According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, early on the morning of October 18th, a driver ran his car off the road and through the front of a pharmacy, located near the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and Cheshire Bridge Road. Ironically, the pharmacy is located between a DUI school and the Anchor Bar at 1878 Piedmont NE in Atlanta.
Police received a 911 call and, responding to the scene they were led to the bar, where the alleged driver of the vehicle, 38 year old Rashad Williams of Lithonia, was sitting at the bar enjoying a beer. When asked about the fact that his car was parked INSIDE the pharmacy, Williams allegedly told police that he had been driving down Cheshire Bridge Road, around 3:30 in the morning when he lost control of his vehicle, jumped a curb and crossed a parking lot, ending up inside the Walgreens Community Pharmacy.
They waited for him to pay his tab before escorting him out of the bar and placing him under arrest for DUI.
At first glance, this case may seem cut and dried, but if we look at this from the perspective of a good DUI attorney, you'll see that it is anything but.
If we only go on what is reported in the newspaper, this case is going to have a hard time standing up in court, particularly if Mr. Williams hires a competent Atlanta DUI lawyer.
First we look at the evidence of driving. The time was approximately 3:30 am and police were responding to a 911 call. There is no mention of the identity of the person reporting the accident, which is typical of a 911 call. If the person reporting the accident is not available at trial, there is little evidence that Mr. Williams was actually driving the car.
Mr. Williams does apparently admit to driving, though we do not know his exact words, let's assume the case will go beyond the issue of whether he was actually driving the vehicle at the time of the accident.
Police were sent to the Anchor Bar by the 911 caller. They found Mr. Williams seated at the bar, drinking. The consumption of alcohol AFTER driving and BEFORE police contact throws a serious wrench in the prosecution's case.
Now they must determine the exact time the driving occurred, and how much Mr. Williams had to drink AFTER the accident. The blood or breath testing part of a DUI case is heavily dependent on a certain series of events...i.e. drinking, then driving, then the stop and testing. The way in which a body absorbs and eliminates alcohol from the system is pretty standard. Introduction of alcohol after the person got out of the car, though not impossible to deal with, makes any testing of blood or breath suspect.
How much alcohol did he drink after driving and can that be easily subtracted from the subsequent test results? Not only that, but can the prosecution's expert explain the calculations well enough for a jury to understand?
It's obvious in this case there is a 'gut feeling,' maybe even a 'clear indication' that Mr. Williams could be guilty of DUI. But that's not the point of a jury trial.
The point of a jury trial is 'Can the State prove each element of the offense BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT?'
Without substantially more evidence than is listed in the news report, it is entirely possible that they can't.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Atlanta, or anywhere in Northern Georgia, contact the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson immediately for effective and experienced legal representation. Richard Lawson and his associates and staff have been representing DUI clients in Georgia for over 20 years. He is one of the most recommended lawyers in Georgia, and his reviews can be found on AVVO.