Police officers carry portable breath tests, which they may use if they think that a driver is intoxicated. These are often not admissible in court, but they may show the officer that the driver should be taken to the station for a more extensive test.
To avoid drunk driving charges, some drivers have considered buying their own breath tests. These are readily available online. If you put one in your car and check it before you start driving, you can quickly see if you’re anywhere near the legal limit.
But is this always going to get you out of a DUI?
Your test may not be accurate and also can’t be used in court
These can certainly help. If you blow a 0.10% and decide not to drive home, you keep yourself safe from an accident or an arrest. In that sense, there is no downside.
However, you should know that these tests are not always considered accurate or trustworthy. Even the police have specific models they’re supposed to use. Your personal test that you ordered online isn’t going to be admissible in court.
This doesn’t matter if it stops you from driving, of course. When it comes into play is if your test says that you’re under the legal limit and then the police get a reading that puts you over it. You can claim that your device said you weren’t breaking the law, but that is not going to get you out of the charges.
Plus, if you’re impaired, you can get a DUI even if you’re below the legal limit. So your breath test could be accurate and still not protect you from the legal charges. Even if the police say that your BAC is only 0.07%, the court could still charge you if there is evidence you were impaired, no matter your BAC level.
Looking into your legal options
If you do get arrested, you must know what legal options you have. DUI charges can alter the course of your life and you need to know how to protect your future.
Fraud is a class of crimes characterized by the procurement of money or property by trickery or deception. While some people commit fraud with meaningful intent, some commit such crimes without even knowing they were in the wrong. Following are three ways you can commit fraud without even knowing it:
- Accepting overpayment of government benefits: If you are receiving unemployment benefits or funds from some other government program, there is a set amount you are entitled to receive defined by concrete parameters. In the event the government agency overpays you, it is your responsibility to return the overpaid amount. People who simply cash their check without paying close attention to the amount could be guilty of a crime.
- Failing to update your information with insurance companies: Certain changes in your life, such as moving to a different neighborhood or getting into a car accident, may warrant an increase in your insurance premiums. Failure to notify your insurance provider of these changes could constitute fraud.
- Making mistakes when filing your taxes: Taxes are complicated, and it’s easy to make innocent mistakes when filing your own tax paperwork. Whether the IRS views your mistake as innocent is another matter. Some common errors people make when filing their taxes include listing a child as a dependent when the child does not meet residency requirements and failing to give out 1099s (for employers) or save and report 1099s (for independent contractors).
Don’t try explaining yourself
If you have been accused of committing fraud, you should not make any statements about the matter to law enforcement officers (even if you know you are innocent). Anything you say can be used against you and a simple slip of the tongue could turn a minor issue into a full-blown legal crisis. Always talk with an experienced criminal law attorney at the earliest sign of trouble. You could save yourself a world of trouble by doing so.
There was a terrible storm that pulled up one corner of your roof and caused a leak. Your homeowner’s insurance will cover the cost to repair the affected area. However, your brother-in-law runs a roofing and drywall company. He suggests that the two of you exaggerate the damage so that you can file a claim to have the entire roof replaced and all of the second-story drywall ceilings redone.
You benefit because not only do you get the damage repaired but also cosmetic improvements that could increase your home’s selling price, while your brother-in-law gets to make a lot of guaranteed income because insurance money is easier to collect than the money owed by individual homeowners. Situations like this may seem mutually beneficial, but they can potentially lead to insurance fraud charges.
Insurance companies don’t just sign checks blindly.
You paid for coverage for years without ever making a claim. You assume that this first claim will likely fly under the radar because there is enough credible damage to justify a claim. What you may not consider is that the insurance company very well might conduct an independent investigation because exaggerated claims are a leading source of fraud.
They may send an adjuster out to document the damage. They might even require that you get bids from other companies, a process which could show that your initial bid was far too high or overstated the damage.
If an insurance carrier pays out on a claim that it later finds to be fraudulent or has written documentation of you fraudulently exaggerating the nature of the claim, they might not only refuse to pay you but could also bring the issue to the attention of law enforcement, which could potentially result in insurance fraud claims. If you find yourself accused of insurance fraud, discussing your issue with someone early in the process can help you defend against those charges.
The holiday season is rapidly approaching. For a lot of people, this is the season of indulgences. They spend more time relaxing, they eat more and they drink more. That last activity, in particular, can lead to problems — like a drunk driving charge.
The authorities are quite conscious of the fact that the holidays are problematic when it comes to drunk driving. Consider, for example, the fact that roughly 300 people die in drunk driving accidents every year in the short period between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Slightly more than a quarter of the traffic accidents during the month of December are usually attributed to drunk driving accidents.
In part, the increase in drunk driving incidents may be related to the fact that the holiday season tends to bring out the “practice drunks” in every gathering. These are the folks that don’t normally imbibe (or rarely do so heavily). They are often less conscious of their limits, and less prepared to get home without help.
You can absolutely bet that the police will be out on the roads from Thanksgiving onward looking for any signs of impaired driving. To avoid problems, play it smart:
- If you’re attending a gathering where there will be alcohol, either don’t drink at all or strictly limit your consumption. Make sure that you stop drinking several hours before you have to be back on the road.
- Consider asking for a place to sleep. If you’re at a friend’s or family member’s during the holiday season and you want to party, it may be wisest to ask if you can spend the night. That way, you don’t have to risk being on the road at all.
- Get a ride wherever you’re going and then back home. If your car isn’t there, you won’t be tempted to get behind the wheel. If you plan to drink heavily at a gathering, get a ride.
If you do make a mistake, don’t let a single night out wreck your life. A drunk driving charge is serious, so make sure that you have a serious defense attorney by your side building your defense.
The police suspect that you’re involved in drug crimes, but they don’t have enough to get a warrant. They can’t come into your house, and you’ve turned them away when they’ve asked permission to enter. Then, one day, your camera records officers searching through your trash at night. Can they do that?
As an American citizen, privacy is important. You have a lot of rights. This is why you can ask police officers to leave your property, and they can’t force their way in. You have an expectation of privacy in your home.
When you put your trash at the curb, though, you lose that right to privacy. The reasoning is that the trash bin is no longer on your property at all. The city owns the street. Officers have every right to look in your trash, collect it or even bring it in to do a thorough search. They’re not violating your rights by doing that.
This doesn’t mean all trash is fair game. They can’t look through trash cans in your home or garage. They can’t always search you to see if you have discarded trash in your pockets. Your Fourth Amendment rights against illegal searches still hold up. But you do need to know that a trash bin at the curb is no longer protected under the Fourth Amendment.
A search could bring about legal charges or an arrest. Perhaps the police found notes or receipts in your garbage that they say connect to drug sales. It’s important for you to know what rights and legal defense options you have moving forward.
Maybe your boyfriend is sitting in jail because he can’t afford bail, but you think that the charges are utterly bogus. Worse, your boyfriend’s anxiety is (naturally) through the roof, and the jail doctor won’t let him have his Xanax. You decide to sneak a couple of pills to him on your next visit.
That’s a massively bad idea. “Crossing the guard line” in any correctional facility with contraband — which includes drugs and weapons — is a specific crime in Georgia that’s treated differently than mere possession. In addition to the possession charge you’ll get if you’re caught carrying drugs that aren’t yours, you’ll also be charged with crossing the guard line — and that offense carries a mandatory minimum of a year in prison if you’re convicted.
Maybe you’d never be so foolish to try something like that, but it’s still important to understand how this rule works. Why? Because you can end up charged with crossing the guard line due to accidental concealment of drugs or weapons when you’re arrested on another charge.
For example, imagine that you had a few too many drinks one night before heading home and you got picked up for drunk driving. You entirely forgot that you have a marijuana joint hidden in your shoe until you’re asked to turn your shoes over during booking. The next thing you know, you’re charged with another crime — one that’s potentially a lot more serious.
The authorities in Georgia don’t play around when it comes to drug charges. If you’re charged with crossing the guard line or another drug offense, make no mistake: You need experienced legal assistance today.
Do not assume that an officer needs evidence to make a traffic stop. They don’t. All they actually need is reasonable suspicion. This is a much lower standard and can be met when you have not actually done anything wrong.
For instance, say you are driving with your child in the car. The child, who is just old enough to ride in the front seat, accidentally bumps the rear-view mirror. You reach up to fix it. As you do so, you drift over the center line since your attention is momentarily diverted from the road.
A police officer sees this and decides that you may be drunk. They can legally pull you over to investigate whether or not you are. You have exhibited the type of behavior often seen by drunk drivers, and that’s all that the evidence the officer needs to conduct the traffic stop.
Of course, the opposite of this is also true, in that an officer without reasonable suspicion cannot legally carry out a stop. These stops would be little more than random and, therefore, would infringe on the rights of those stopped.
For example, you may be driving home from work at 2 a.m. The officer knows that the bars just closed down and that drunk drivers may be out. If you’re driving flawlessly, though, they can’t pull you over just to check and see if you’re drunk. The time of day is not enough to give them the type of reasonable suspicion that is needed.
If you get a DUI and you think that the officer had no right to stop you, you need to know what defense options you have to dispute the charge(s).
Criminal charges that have to do with fraud, financial deceit and similar factors are white collar crimes. There are many different charges that fall under the umbrella of white collar crime so understanding some of the more common ones might be beneficial.
Some of the most common white collar crimes include:
- Embezzlement: Embezzlement has to do with the misuse of assets that you’re placed over. It’s typically associated with companies that have executives or employees who funnel company assets into personal accounts or use the company’s money for the employee’s own good.
- Securities fraud: This crime that has to do with publicly traded companies. You can’t use inside information that isn’t available to other investors to make decisions about your own stocks. Insider trading is the crime that sent Martha Stewart to prison and branded her a felon.
- Tax evasion and tax fraud: Tax crimes are common. While you won’t face this charge for an honest mistake on your taxes, you can face serious charges if you avoid filing the required returns or make blatant misstatements on them.
- Money laundering: Money laundering tends to be associated with other kinds of criminal activity. It occurs when someone takes money earned through illegal means and tries to make it appear as though it was lawfully earned (so that it can later be spent without problems).
White collar crimes are taken very seriously by the authorities. Convictions come with possible time in prison, fines and other consequences. If you’re facing a white collar crime, you need to work closely with your attorney to determine what defense strategy you need to utilize.
Georgia law forbids drivers from operating a vehicle when they’re impaired. This can come from a host of causes, including alcohol, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and illegal substances. Regardless of what causes a driver to be impaired, they can face criminal charges if they’re driving while they’re under the influence of it.
Police officers who are on patrol will look for signs that a driver isn’t fully sober. In order to conduct a traffic stop, they need to have reasonable suspicion that the driver is breaking the law. Cops are taught several signals that would point to an impaired driver. If they notice any of these, the requirement for reasonable suspicion to conduct the stop is present.
- Driving without headlights from dusk to dawn or in the rain
- Making illegal turns or failing to use a turn signal
- Weaving in and out of lanes or straddling the centerlane
- Stopping for no reason or failing to obey traffic signs and signals
- Driving too slowly or speeding
There might also be other signs present that could make an officer think that a person isn’t sober. As long as they see something that makes this think this is the case, they can work to find out what’s going on. If you’re stopped, you’ll likely be asked about alcohol and drugs. You may be asked to take a chemical test. If the standard of probable cause is met, you’ll be arrested and charged.
Once you’re charged with impaired driving, you need to get to work on your defense. This includes addressing the criminal matter but also need to think about the administrative process. Your attorney can help you to do this.
A word to the wise: If you’re doing something illegal, it might be wiser to keep a low-profile. It’s also smart to know your rights if the police come knocking on your door with a bunch of questions.
According to a recent report, Statesboro police officers went to The Vault apartments following reports that someone at that residence had issued threats in a post on social media. They were seeking to evaluate the sincerity of the threat.
While there, the officers detected the smell of marijuana. After calling for a search warrant (and presumably getting it), the officers discovered a cache of marijuana, Ecstasy and firearms. Following that encounter, the police ultimately arrested four people on a variety of drug and weapon charges.
Cases like this are a reminder that your home isn’t really all that private. it doesn’t take much for the police to get a warrant if they want one. Once you open the door to your home, the police can generally obtain a warrant to enter that home and search it if they have a reasonable suspicion that a crime is occurring inside. That’s why so many criminal defense attorneys recommend that people decline to open the doors to the police and speak with them only in a safe, neutral area — preferably in the presence of an attorney. That can limit their opportunity to notice contraband items or other issues that would justify a warrant.
If you’ve been charged with a crime following a search of your residence, do yourself a favor: Invoke your rights, remain silent and get some experienced legal assistance right away.