The Atlanta DUI News Blog

September 2010 Archives

The murder conviction of Andrew Gallo for a drunk driving crash that killed rookie Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart is part of a growing trend, the Associated Press reported. Simply stated, states are becoming less forgiving of motorists whose impaired driving results in fatal DUI accidents.

Andrew Gallo claimed he was too drunk to know what he was doing when he decided to drive that night. But he had received a written warning from the court that he would be charged with murder if he killed someone while under the influence.

A jury convicted Andrew Thomas Gallo on three counts of second-degree murder for an alcohol-fueled crash that killed promising Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It took place just a few hours after Nick Adenhart made his first start of the season on April 9, 2009, in which he pitched six innings of shutout baseball.

R&B singer Chester "Lyfe" Jennings famously turned his life around after serving a 10-year prison term for arson; but more recent troubles with the law have landed him in prison for three more years, as MTV.com reported. It's not merely a DUI that got him in hot water, though.

CBS News recounts the Oct. 19, 2008 arrest of singer Lyfe Jennings, known for his hit song "Must Be Nice," that reportedly stemmed from an altercation with his ex-girlfriend and mother of his children. He allegedly kicked in the door of a Marietta house where he believed she was staying and fired several gunshots into the house.

The Bulldogs' off-field troubles just keep coming. Most recently, University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt decided to kick freshman linebacker Demetre Baker off the team following his arrest for DUI and other charges, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Demetre Baker, the 10th UGA football player arrested this year and the fourth to be booted from the team, was booked into an Athens jail Sunday morning at 4:26 a.m. and released at about 11:05 a.m. on $2,500 bond.

He already was "redshirted" this season, meaning he either didn't have the grades or was unable to play because of an injury (the article doesn't give the specific reason), and didn't travel with the team for last Saturday's game against Mississippi State. But it looks like his football career, at least with UGA, is over before it even began.

While convicted Macon-area drunk driver Shelby Marwan Heggs accepts the fact that he has sinned, including convictions for drunk driving and charges of aggravated battery, Fox News 5 reported that he has filed a petition to change his name to Saint Jody Almighty Bedrock.

Actually becoming a saint is not that simple; Vatican officials must approve such a canonization, usually after an individual who has done extraordinary things has died. So Shelby Heggs has plenty of work to do if he actually has saintly ambitions.

Excuses from motorists who fail field sobriety tests, conducted by officers to gather evidence for a possible DUI charge, are nothing new. But Clayton County police officer Martin Jones makes the unique claim that head injuries sustained during a tour of duty in Iraq made him appear intoxicated when he was pulled over last fall, according to WSBT News.

The cop and war veteran, a former Army sergeant, faces charges of DUI, reckless driving and speeding.

Martin Jones's Georgia DUI attorneys showed the jury a video of him being injured. But while the lawyers claimed the video illustrated why his behavior made him look drunk, prosecutors said it only would lead the jury to view him as a sympathetic figure regardless of the facts in the case. The judge allowed the jury to watch one video but he allegedly was hit by nine.

The Rome News-Tribune reported on the arrest of 43-year-old Harvey Dwayne Thomspon, who police claim fled the scene after rear-ending a cement truck under the influence of alcohol. He was charged with felony habitual violator DUI, among other traffic and alcohol-related charges.

Police reported finding an open bottle of vodka, in addition to an unopened one, in his car after he fled the crash scene near Ga. highway 101 last Wednesday afternoon.

Just when you thought actress Lindsay Lohan's DUI conviction was finally behind her, she's now heading back to the slammer for a third time, People Magazine reported. She could face jail for a failed drug test, People reported last week, but it's not clear exactly which drug she allegedly consumed. 

The judge in Lindsay Lohan's messy DUI case denied bail at a hearing last Friday and ordered her held until her Oct. 22 hearing. Reporters said the actress "looked stunned" and was crying as police handcuffed and drove her to the women's jail in Lynwood, California.

Cobb County bar The Sports Grill settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $1 million brought by the family of Cuneyt Erturk, who was killed when Sports Grill patron William Paul Davis crashed into his car, according to a Fulton County Daily Report article republished at Law.com. William Davis was arrested and faces charges of DUI and vehicular homicide.

So why was the bar that legally served him the alcohol sued?

Even Drugged Driving Can Result In A DUI

Almost half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug, according to data released by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in 2004, as stated in an About.com article. Not all of those medications cause impairment in drivers but many of them are just as dangerous as illicit drugs or cocktails. It is known as drugged driving and it can result in a DUI.

In Georgia, as in any state, driving under the influence of a prescription drug can get you a DUI conviction just as if you were out drinking.

Pain medications and muscle relaxants are probably the biggest culprits of impaired driving. But other general drug categories that might not mix well with driving include those used to alleviate panic attacks, anti-depressives, anti-anxiety drugs and sleep aids.

Football Season Opens With A Pair Of DUIs

Usually we hear about professional athletes behaving badly during the off-season, but we've already witnessed a couple of DUI arrests in the NFL just a few weeks into the season. And even though the offenders are well-paid celebrities, it doesn't take a Georgia DUI attorney to know they won't get any special treatment. 

The most recent (allegedly) alcohol-fueled performance involves New York Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who was arrested Tuesday, ESPN reported. Officers pulled him over on Manhattan's West Side in the early morning for excessively tinted windows, and then noticed a strong smell of alcohol.

In southern Georgia last Tuesday, 30-year-old Climax resident Derrick Steven Lambert crashed head-on into none other than the Climax Police Chief, the Bainbridge Community News reported. The car was crushed, as you can see in the article, but Chief Joel Jenkins was not seriously injured.

Derrick Lambert is no stranger to Georgia DUI attorneys, as this marks his third DUI arrest in just 17 days.   

Joel Jenkins remembers sitting in his Dodge Charger police cruiser with the blue lights flashing, in the process of checking on a disabled vehicle, as Derrick Lambert reportedly drove right into him without stopping. He expected him to swerve.

A Fulton County judge granted bond for 24-year-old Donis Alexander Hodges in the amount of $310,000, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was arrested on Sept. 4, charged with DUI and vehicular homicide, and has been held in Fulton County jail ever since.

He remained in custody on Monday evening, following his bond hearing. His Atlanta DUI lawyer was not cited in the article but likely was present during the hearing.

Police said Donis Hodges rear-ended the Chrysler Concord being driven by Angel Rivers, ejecting the driver and causing the car to burst into flames, according to a Sept. 6 Journal-Constitution article. Angel Rivers died soon thereafter and three other women were injured in the crash.

As if the legal troubles of "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star and tanning spa spokeswoman Teresa Giudice weren't bad enough, MSNBC reported that her husband, Joe Giudice, will be spending 10 days in jail.

Joe Giudice will be serving time for driving with a suspended license, which is related to his arrest earlier this year for a DUI. He reported to the Morris County jail earlier this week, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger.   

Georgia DUI attorneys would tell you that Peach State motorists who drive on a suspended license after a DUI conviction also face stiff penalties, similar to New Jersey.

MSNBC's Technolog blog reported on a State Farm Insurance survey finding that more teens believe driving drunk is way more dangerous than texting while driving. But distracted driving accounted for 16 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Legally, driving drunk is taken much more seriously than driving distracted. While Atlanta motorists caught texting while driving receive a $150 fine, according to DrivingLaws.org, those charged with a DUI usually end up hiring Georgia DUI attorneys, paying much stiffer fines, losing their license and sometimes serving time in jail.

The Web site OpposingViews.com reported that Grammy-winning hip-hop star T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris Jr., was in possession of illegal pills and marijuana and tested positive for opiates, according to his probation officer. T.I. and new wife Tameka Cottle were stopped by the police on Sept. 1 after making an illegal U-turn; he was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs.

While the traffic stop occurred in Los Angeles, the possession charge and failed drug test are violations of his probation for gun possession in the Atlanta area. Officials said his contact with another convicted felon the day after his DUI arrest also could be charged as a probation violation. 

And while he likely has retained an Atlanta DUI attorney for his DUI case, his criminal defense lawyer will be handling the probation violations.

The Reliability Of Field Sobriety Tests

Assuming the machine is properly serviced and calibrated, breathalyzer tests are fairly accurate. Blood draws are even more accurate, since they go straight to the source. Most DUI charges result in a guilty plea precisely because blood-alcohol tests are so difficult to challenge.

But what about the infamous field sobriety test? Georgia DUI attorneys have probably heard plenty of complaints about the test from clients; but is it accurate?

The evaluation at least seems very subjective, especially since the results are dependent upon the officer's judgment.

Motorists cutting z's behind the wheel, even for just a split second, claim numerous lives each year. In fact 60 percent of adult drivers (or about 168 million people) said they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy at least once in the past year, according to a 2005 National Sleep Foundation poll.

What does this have to do with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs? A Georgia DUI attorney probably won't be able to help you beat a reckless driving charge if your drug of choice is sleep-deprivation, but drowsy driving is not all that different from drunk driving.

In case you missed it, the University of Georgia was named the nation's No. 1 party school by the Princeton Review, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last month. But while some students cheered the ranking, administrators viewed it as sobering news.

So did the police, and perhaps a few enterprising Georgia DUI attorneys as well. A whopping 43 drug- and alcohol-related arrests were made in the first two weeks of the 2010 school year alone, according to a more recent AJC article.

And 20 UGA students were arrested for alcohol-related charges on August 19 alone, the first Thursday of the new school year, including underage possession of alcohol, carrying open containers of alcohol and driving under the influence.

The Macon Telegraph reported last week that several sobriety checkpoints set up throughout the middle of Georgia netted 139 traffic citations in just two hours. While at first glance it might support the use of such methods, only two of those citations (or 1.4 percent) were for DUI.

While no one would argue that impaired driving is not a serious problem, some Georgia DUI attorneys and their clients are fighting back against the use of checkpoints.

Miami Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown was granted yet another continuance (i.e. delay) of his DUI case, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, thanks to his Georgia DUI attorney. The Georgia native was arrested on March 20 in Marietta and charged with a DUI.

The 28-year-old professional football player, who had no previous arrest record, was pulled over after he failed to signal while changing lanes, according to a March 22 Miami Herald article. He reportedly spent the night in jail and was released the following morning.

Singer George Michael, perhaps best known for his work with the 1980s band Wham and his solo debut album "Faith," was sentenced to eight weeks in jail for driving under the influence of marijuana, the Washington Post reported.

He was sentenced in London under English law, although a Georgia DUI attorney might be better able explain how impaired driving laws differ between the UK and the Peach State.

The singer pleaded guilty in August to charges of driving under the influence of drugs and possession of cannabis (aka, marijuana) after crashing his Range Rover into a Snappy Snaps photo shop in north London on July 4.

A LaGrange Daily News article profiles repeat DUI offender Lee Mock, who faced the prospect of going to jail after his latest drunk driving arrest. He would have been locked up in most Georgia counties, but Troup County has a unique program designed to treat those with substance abuse problems.

Lee Mock is about to graduate from the drug and alcohol program he entered in lieu of going to jail and said it literally saved his life:

"It was either jail or enter the program... Who wants to go to jail?"

Unfortunately DUI offenders don't have that choice in Fulton County or other Atlanta-area counties. But skilled Atlanta DUI attorneys can often help their clients get a reasonably favorable outcome in court.

Before troubled actress Lindsay Lohan was sentenced to one month in the slammer for violating the terms of her probation for a 2007 DUI, as recounted by a Fox News article, she brought national attention to a new technology that monitors alcohol usage.

In fact one could say she actually made the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM) bracelet quite fashionable, as this CBS News article suggests. Still, it's important to remember that you have to be in trouble with the law to get one.

For those of us who are not celebrities, for whom meeting with an Atlanta DUI attorney is actually a big deal with real consequences, the hot new accessory may not be worth the trouble.

If you think hopping on your bicycle to heavily imbibe at the local pub will prevent you from getting arrested for a DUI, think again. Bikes are indeed vehicles, as a Rome News-Tribune article points out, which means biking under the influence carries the same potential legal consequences as driving a car while intoxicated.

A Georgia police officer answering a question in the "forums" section of Officer.com said that while it's tougher to catch drunk bicyclists, they're often individuals who already had lost their driver's license due to a prior DUI. And, as Georgia DUI attorneys would attest, the main difference is that there are no license suspension penalties for a DUI on a bicycle.

It's not often that a DUI case involving a non-celebrity gets national attention, but this one is quite unique. The Denver Post reported on the hijinks of 32-year-old Greeley, Colorado man Adam Segura, who allegedly stole the squad car he was put into after his DUI arrest.

Georgia DUI attorneys regularly offer advice on what to do (and what not to do) following an arrest for DUI. But who could have ever thought to tell their clients that stealing a squad car -- while (allegedly) intoxicated -- is not advised?

Now he and his lawyer will have to figure out the best way to defend against the charges (if there is no guilty plea, that is), while enjoying his 15 minutes of fame.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle cited a report by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation finding that traffic fatalities in Georgia fell by 14 percent between the 2008 and 2009. A sizeable portion of traffic fatalities traditionally has been linked to alcohol or other causes of impairment.

While neither the Web site for Georgia's Dept. of Driver Services nor FindLaw specify the typical penalties for DUI involving death, Georgia DUI attorneys can provide details and possible outcomes.

Those who violate Georgia's DUI laws often lose their driver's license for at least one year, which can have the unintended consequence of making it really difficult to get to work or other vital appointments. Since the state must also keep the roads safe, the Georgia Dept. of Driver Services (DDS) offers limited driving permits that attempt to balance these competing interests. 

If you believe you would be adversely affected by a suspended license, ask a Georgia DUI attorney about such options.

While first-time DUI offenders may apply for a permit to get to work, medical appointments, university classes, driver education or treatment programs; second-time DUI offenders have the option of driving with an ignition interlock device (IID).

Police departments all over the greater metropolitan Atlanta area are ramping up the use of new video surveillance cameras in public places and in patrol cars, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. While the Big Brother aspects of public surveillance has drawn ire from civil libertarians, in-car cameras can help keep officers honest.

The DUI units of DeKalb and Gwinnett County police departments, for example, have digital in-car cameras; Cobb County plans to install them across its 600-car fleet within 2011.

That means Atlanta DUI attorneys who believe their clients were unfairly stopped or otherwise subject to improper procedures will have access to video that could make (or break) their case.

Repeat offenders of DUI laws are deficient in their ability to reason, according to a new study that tracked 34 male, second-time DUI offenders, as reported by Bloomberg BusinessWeek. While seasoned Georgia DUI attorneys are probably not surprised, now scientists are able to point to physiological differences in the brains of repeat DUI offenders.

But these subtle reasoning deficits may not be detected through standard tests, the study concludes.   

Researchers compared the repeat DUI offenders, all of whom were enrolled in a rehabilitation group, with a control group of 31 non-offenders matched for age, education and alcohol consumption. Personality and decision-making patterns of the subjects were tested using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), which simulates real-life decision-making.

Labor Day weekend typically sees more than the average volume of alcohol-related traffic accidents and this was no exception. The Macon Telegraph reported that 13 people in total were killed in traffic incidents over the long weekend.

And of those, the driver allegedly responsible for the death of Bonaire resident Amy Vanhoose may want to find a good Georgia DUI attorney.

She was driving north with her husband, who survived the crash, on Moody Road when the car belonging to 41-year-old Warner Robins resident Mario Gutierrez-Gonzalez ran into the passenger side of their car.

Donis Alexander Hodges was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, first-degree homicide, following too closely and reckless driving after a four-car collision claimed the life of 21-year-old Angel Rivers, WSBTV reported.

Those are particularly serious charges, which means Donis Hodges may want to choose his Atlanta DUI lawyer carefully.

Police said Angel Rivers and three friends were driving on Interstate 20 in Atlanta at around 3 a.m. last Saturday, when Donis Hodges rear-ended them with his BMW M6 and caused a fiery explosion. Angel Rivers was thrown from her vehicle, while a soldier rescued her three friends.