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DUI May Be in Question if Intoxication Is Not a Voluntary

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2,597 people were killed in United States traffic accidents in December 2010. Of those, 775 deaths involved alcohol-impaired drivers. A 2006 study by the NHTSA estimated that there is one drunk driving fatality in the United States every 30 minutes.

 

Georgia's Driving Under the Influence Laws are complex. Clayton DUI injury attorney Shane Smith can sort through the intermingled laws that potentially create complications in a DUI case.

 

A case in another state potentially has ramifications in Georgia when the state Supreme Court ruled on the application of a "voluntary act" to a DUI charge. A woman was pulled over by a police officer in 2010 and admitted she had consumed a small amount of alcohol. She contended that she had not consumed enough to render her intoxicated and that she must have been slipped a date rape drug by an unknown third party. The woman was arrested and charged with DUI.

 

A Municipal Court granted a motion by the city preventing the woman from using the date rape drug defense, a decision affirmed by the district court. But a majority on the state Supreme Court disagreed.

 

According to the police report the woman was stopped after an officer saw her run a stop sign and then slam on her brakes to stop at another sign. Court documents indicate that the woman's breath smelled of alcohol and her speech was slow and slurred.

 

The defense noted that there had been several reports of the date rape drug in the same geographic area at around the same time.

 

The Court reversed the district court's ruling and held that the woman could use the automatism defense to challenge the voluntary act element of her DUI charge. The Court noted that a material element of every charge is a voluntary act. It remained to be seen if the woman could prove that she was slipped the date rape drug and therefore that her driving impairment was involuntary.

 

If you have questions about Georgia DUI laws, get the answers in Clayton County DUI injury attorney Shane Smith's book, I Was Hit By a Drunk Driver: What Do I Do Next? Contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith to schedule a free legal consultation.

 


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia