The policies and procedures regarding DUI enforcement vary widely across the Atlanta area, leaving the public confused and uncertain about just how the process works in any given jurisdiction. While some departments require search warrants for DUI suspect blood samples, other departments make it optional and still others prohibit the procedure entirely. The rules can change from county to county to such a degree that proving a DUI may be extremely difficult, much less prosecuting it and ensuring that victims of DUI related accidents are adequately compensated.
Some Atlanta police departments don’t even have a written policy regarding DUI stops. What’s more, many of the courts across Atlanta do not easily or readily share information. This breakdown in communication in the system has led to cases like this story. A man reportedly admitted that he was under the influence of drugs while driving in Atlanta but he escaped a guilty charge because of the differences of policies and lack of information sharing. What would have been his third strike was swept under the rug and a month later he drove his car onto an Atlanta sidewalk killing one young boy and seriously injuring two others.
Different Jurisdictions – Different Laws
The Atlanta Police Department has a policy that allows officers an option for seeking a search warrant in order to obtain a blood sample from a driver suspected of DUI if that driver refuses to submit to the blood test in order to prove sobriety. This means that if an officer at that department stopped a motorist and suspected them of DUI they would have to ask the driver to submit to a drug test. If the driver refused, the officer could either choose to force the test with a warrant or choose to forego the warrant and let it go.
In Gwinnett County, the policy is a little unclear. It seems to indicate that seeking a search warrant to obtain a blood sample that would prove an individual was driving DUI is mandatory for certain officers and optional for others. In Cobb County, a supervisor must approve it, but it is optional so the officers aren’t held to it anyway.
The Police Chief of Dunwoody does not believe in forcing DUI suspects to provide a blood sample. Therefore, the Dunwoody Police Department strictly prohibits the act. Officers are not allowed to seek search warrants for that purpose. The Dekalb County and Cherokee County Sheriff’s Officers do use warrants, but there is no written policy that addresses the issue directly.
Possible, Probable, and Actual Repercussions
The most obvious repercussion to this disparity in policies is seen in the case mentioned above. Repeat offenders essentially don’t get caught – and if they get caught, they aren’t prosecuted appropriately. At the very least, this can lead to property loss and injury for innocent victims. At the extreme, it can mean senseless loss of life.
Victims of a DUI accident can have a difficult time getting the compensation that they would be entitled to receive because in areas where policies are lax or nonexistent, the substantive proof simply isn’t there. Even if it is, it can be disallowed in the crossover from one jurisdiction to the other.
What does this mean to you?
Most drivers in an area have a reasonable expectation that the laws and policies regarding motor vehicle operation will be the same, or at least very similar from one jurisdiction to the next. They often believe, and rightfully so, that they are protected by laws and policies that are designed to help prove guilt or innocence and protect them from law breakers.
As a driver on the Atlanta roads, you could find yourself in the position where you are in an accident with an individual suspected of DUI and fall under the jurisdiction of one of the more lax departments. That is why regardless of where your accident is, you should immediately speak to an attorney. Good legal counsel can be the difference in getting just enough compensation to take care of your medical bills and getting the full amount of what you deserve, including lost wages and other punitive damages.
Contact an Attorney
If you have been injured by a drunk driver you probably have a lot of questions. The differing DUI laws across the Atlanta region can be a source of confusion and frustration. You have enough going on; let the personal injury attorneys at The Champion Firm, P.C. sort it all out while you concentrate on getting back on your feet. Give us a call and let us help you get the compensation that you deserve.