The principal difference when defending a second DUI versus a first DUI is that it is much harder or it is more difficult for a person charged with a second offense DUI than a first offense DUI.
If a client approaches a lawyer shortly after they have been arrested for a first DUI, in most situations, the lawyer can keep them on the road. If it is an adult driver and there are certain steps to take, even if the case results in a guilty verdict, the defense can generally maintain the client’s ability to drive. With a second offense DUI, however, it gets much trickier, and is much harder to keep the person on the road. That is one of the key differences, so it is critically important to address these issues as soon as an individual has been arrested.
When representing a person charged with a second DUI in DeKalb County, defense attorneys still do the same intensive investigation that they do on a first offense, requesting all the documents they can, such as records from any roadblock, the officer’s training records, 911 records, radio dispatch records, police report videos, and other materials. Additionally if it is a second DUI, lawyers also encourage their clients to think about taking some steps toward mitigation of any possible sentence.
The most important thing is for the client to undergo an evaluation for drug and alcohol dependency issues, and if there are problems found, to go ahead and start that treatment before going to court, and if they have to go to court and enter a guilty plea on a second DUI, then the judge is going to want to know from the client what they have done to correct their behavior and to address any possible problems.
Now, the truth be known, it is very easy to get arrested for DUI in DeKalb County, but very many times people have actually fairly low blood alcohol levels. So, not all DUIs involve drunk driving, but when someone is standing in front of a judge it is important to get them to see the person as a human being and not just a drunk driver. In that regard, counseling and other steps made are much more important with a second DUI than they are with first.
After we investigate a second DUI, it is very important to look for any sort of technical problems that there may be with the case. For example, the DeKalb County Star Team, which is the DUI task force for DeKalb County, likes to set up alcohol sobriety check points commonly called roadblocks, and they are allowed to do that under the Georgia Supreme Court rulings. However, there are very tight restrictions about how these roadblocks must be set up and operated.
In a second DUI case, if it is a roadblock, we want to get the records from that DUI arrest to look to see if there are any problems with how the roadblock was set up and operated.
Once again, it is very important that we look everywhere we can to uncover either technical problems or the factual issues that may support the finding of reasonable doubt in a DUI case.