Atlanta Legal Blog

Impairment and open container laws in Georgia

Many traffic stops often include more than just a suspicion of being impaired. An officer may cite a driver for speeding, weaving or even reckless driving, depending on the circumstances. Any of these driving behaviors could provide further evidence of an impaired driver. Furthermore, if a driver is also accused of violating the state's open container laws, the situation could become more complicated.

If someone in the passenger compartment of a vehicle broke the seal on a container that contains alcohol and part, or all, of its contents are gone, that could violate Georgia's open container laws regardless of whether the vehicle is on the roadway or stopped on the shoulder. The individual in possession of the open container receives the violation, but that might not save the driver from a DUI arrest. An open container may create probable cause for an officer to believe that the driver is impaired, especially when the driver is alone in the vehicle.

Are there such things as prescription drug crimes?

Yes. When a Georgia resident uses a medication intended to treat an injury or illness, especially a narcotic such as an opiod, he or she is cautioned only to take the medication in accordance with the instructions on the bottle and in any information provided when received. In addition, most people have heard at one time or another that they should never share their medications with others. These are more than just cautionary tales since an individual's actions and use of prescription medications could fall under prescription drug crimes.

With an increasing black market for certain prescription medications, a Georgia resident might be tempted to sell the medication. In the alternative, some doctors end up being criminally charged for trafficking or even homicide if a patient overdoses. Periodically, news outlets carry stories of "pill mills" being run out of clinics. The doctors and staff at these clinics are accused of writing bogus prescriptions and receiving a portion of any profits from black market sales or for selling the drugs themselves and writing prescriptions to cover their tracks.

Racial profiling played a role in charges of drug crimes

Approximately two years ago, Mike Scott, a former Atlanta Hawks basketball player, and his brother were arrested after a traffic stop. They were charged with felony drug crimes after police allegedly found marijuana and Molly (powered MDMA) in the vehicle. As it turns out, a judge recently ruled that the traffic stop that started it all was racially motivated, and more than likely, Scott and his brother were not the first victims of this treatment.

According to reports, Scott and his brother were stopped by police. Evidence suggested that police had no probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle, and the judge agreed. Since the initial traffic stop was not proper and in violation of the rights of Scott and his brother, the subsequent search of the vehicle was also not legal.

Some traffic offenses come with more than just a fine

All drivers owe a duty of care to their passengers and everyone else on the road with them. When drivers fail to follow the rules of road, they could receive citations for traffic violations such as speeding, failure to signal and the like. However, some traffic offenses are more serious than others are. For instance, Georgia considers reckless driving more than just a violation of the traffic laws, and a driver accused of this actually faces a misdemeanor charge.

Most Georgia residents would agree that activities such as racing, eluding police or ignoring traffic signals would fall into the category of reckless driving. However, a variety of other circumstances could result in this charge as well. For example, driving at speeds considered excessive, passing another vehicle in a no passing zone and passing a stopped school bus can also result in this charge.

Dealing with Georgia traffic violations

The flashing lights behind the car often momentarily leave Georgia drivers stunned. Once they realize that they are being pulled over, they get off the roadway and wait. An officer comes to the window, and by the time the conversation is over, those drivers have citations for traffic violations.

Many people get home and figure they will just pay the ticket and plead guilty, but that might be a mistake. Their auto insurance rates could go up, and points could be added to their driver's licenses. If a driver accumulates enough points, his or her license could be suspended.

Defending yourself from charges of violent crimes in Georgia

You suddenly find yourself in handcuffs, accused of hurting one or more people in some way. You know that violent crimes often come with serious penalties here in Georgia. The next move you make could affect the course of the rest of your life.

You may be facing charges for crimes ranging from assault to homicide to hate crimes. Regardless of the criminal charge, you could end in prison, paying fines and/or restitution to those who supposedly hurt. You need someone on your side who understands the criminal laws here in Georgia, regularly works with the prosecutors involved and understands how the courts tend to rule.

Sting operation causes charges for drug crimes against jailer

Once released, some of the inmates who spend time in Georgia's jails and prisons might remain in contact with other inmates or even their jailers. Sometimes, those relationships turn sour when the former inmate accuses a jailer of drug crimes. This recently happened to a former jailer who now faces charges after a drug sting.

According to reports, the now former jailer, who allegedly wanted to purchase methadone (a prescription narcotic) from him, approached the former inmate. The former inmate went to drug agents regarding the request, and a sting operation was set up. The former inmate arranged to meet with the former jailer to deliver the methadone.

Did a Georgia department store detain you for shoplifting?

Georgia department stores and other shopping locations are permitted to detain suspected shoplifters whom they believe pose a threat to the store under certain circumstances. Stores, for example, can apprehend and hold an individual they suspect of stealing until authorities arrive to assess the situation.

That said, the detainment of the suspected shoplifter has to be reasonable, both in manner and in length. The use of unreasonable force, for example, could create a liability issue for the store. Also, a detainment that happens without probable cause, or for too much time, creates the environment in which a false imprisonment claim could take hold.

Former football player arrested for assault and battery

In the last few years, numerous current and former professional football players have made headlines involving domestic violence charges. Recently, yet another former NFL player made the news after an alleged incident at a child's birthday party. By the time police left the Georgia residence, former wide receiver Mike Thomas was under arrest for assault and battery.

According to the alleged victim, Thomas showed up at the residence intoxicated during her daughter's birthday party. He reportedly attempted to drive off in a vehicle, but she begged him to just go sleep it off instead. She claims that is when he became enraged and punched her in the face.

Georgia teacher arrested for more than mere drug possession

Georgia's teachers are human. They make mistakes and even get arrested periodically for a variety of offenses. However, one Georgia teacher faces much more than basic drug possession charges after a officials allegedly found approximately $6 million worth of what they believe to be heroin and cocaine in the home in which she was living. 

Police somehow received information that a substantial amount of drugs was "probably" in the residence. At least three people occupied the home. One was the 28-year-old middle school teacher and girls' soccer team coach. The other two occupants of the home could be brother and sister. Police also arrested the 24-year-old woman, but that woman's 25-year-old (possible) brother remains at large.

Mr. Teiger, Thank you very much for your time and results. I will definitely recommend you & your firm to anyone who wants to be treated professionally courteously and needs results.Hope all is well.Again...thank you. Regards, Paul L.

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