My Job is Written into the Constitution:
As an attorney who has defended DUI cases in Georgia for almost twenty years, I am often asked why I “support” or “condone” drinking and driving.
For the record, I do NOT support or condone ANYONE driving while intoxicated. I did not become an attorney because I want to promote the causes of criminals; nor did I choose to specialize in DUI defense because I support drinking and driving.
Drunk driving is dangerous and the cause of senseless deaths and injury each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 345,000 people were injured, and 10,322 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in 2012 ALONE. Those deaths accounted for almost one-third of all traffic deaths in the United States. Why would anyone want to “support” something like that?
However, the question of why I defend those arrested for DUI is more than fair. As an Atlanta DUI Attorney, I am an advocate for personal rights and systems change because many (too many) people are falsely arrested and later convicted of driving under the influence. The issues associated with these arrests put us ALL at risk of being falsely accused and convicted. Below are a few of those issues:
- Police officers often do not have enough (sometimes ZERO) training to detect DUI;
- Incorrect usage of breath testing machines that lead to inaccurate results;
- Lack of routine testing to check that breath-testing equipment is in optimum working order;
- Field sobriety testing is scientifically invalid and often misinterpreted;
- Field sobriety testing is not an indicator that someone is drunk; many of us would not pass these tests stone cold sober;
- Blood test results can be inaccurate due to issues with the chain of custody and blood preservation issues;
- Lack of oversight in our crime labs and Crime lab technicians that act as advocates for the state, rather than as impartial scientists;
- Police officers often intimidate those suspected of DUI and make them feel bullied;
- Prosecutors have been known to hide evidence that could prove a defendant to be innocent.
Our system of justice is delicately balanced to help control crime while simultaneously protecting the accused. Doesn't just about everyone believe that people should have a fair trial and competent legal representation before being imprisoned or even executed?
My job is not to “get crooks off the hook.” To the contrary, my job is to make sure the Constitution of the United States is protected in each of my cases. If we applied the Constitution only to those who are believed to be innocent, then we would all be in danger of losing our rights. That is because anyone can be accused of a crime he or she did not commit.
Speaking of the United States Constitution, let's look at the Sixth Amendment: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”
See that last part with the bold type? The defense attorney's job is so important that it was written into the Constitution. My job was written into the Constitution. Pretty cool, huh? Not many jobs can boast something like that.
Then comes the next question: “How can you defend someone who you KNOW is guilty?” That is another good question I have often been asked.
Lots of times, in the beginning, I do not know if my client is or is not guilty. Maybe they are guilty of some of their charges, but not all of them. In instances where evidence of guilt is substantial, it is my job to negotiate the best outcome for the client. Many of you would be surprised to know that often, my clients are not guilty of ANYTHING at all. Yes, it is true; many people are falsely accused of crimes every day.
Even people who profess to HATE attorneys have a change of heart when they or their child are arrested. I have seen this happen many times.
Another reason I do the work I do is that I enjoy helping people. My clients have typically been arrested for alcohol and drug-related offenses. If I can assist my client in getting the help they need, judges and prosecutors take that into consideration when sentencing.
When the Government, with all its unlimited resources, are prosecuting someone accused of committing a crime, it is up to me to stand up for them and defend them, no matter what. That is what freedom is all about.
All of this being said, I am not surprised when I am asked why I defend those accused of DUI. Attorneys, in general, are portrayed as villains without morals or conscience in the media. People often think that we protect and condone criminal activity and behavior. Nothing could be further from the truth.
DUI punishments and penalties are harsh, and their effects will linger longer than you ever thought possible. As an Atlanta DUI Lawyer, it is my job to fight injustice and protect the rights of citizens. I want to make sure that innocent people are not falsely accused and that all, including the guilty, are treated fairly and proportionately.