Lawyers regularly and rightfully hammer the point that an arrest is not a conviction. When a person is arrested, that is merely an accusation. Just because an individual has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, does not mean that they are guilty of that crime or that they will be convicted on that exact charge. With this in mind, it is worth evaluating how Georgia's DUI Conviction Rates actually stack up against the number of arrests and charges handed down in Georgia.
Since 2010, the figure of DUI convictions in Georgia has steadily fallen. Organizations like Mother's Against Drunk Driving claim this is a major failing, but their statistics belie the truth. Firstly, the number of DUI Arrests in Georgia has declined by 1/3 since 2010. So, reporting the number of convictions without first reporting a decline in arrests is entirely misleading.
Secondly, when they claim the conviction percentage rates for the following metro-Atlanta counties, they do not tell the general public that these are the rate of convictions after a jury trial. About 2% of cases actually go to trial. Most cases are settled with a plea bargain. Most people plead guilty to some or all of what they have been charged. As a result, even Fulton County would have a 98.24% conviction rate for all of their DUI arrests.
These above-listed statistics are designed to pressure Georgia politicians to toughen the DUI laws in Georgia, eliminate legal defenses, and increase punishments for those accused of driving under the influence. They are dishonest and were reported in the news to alarm the public and to make people think that people accused of a DUI were getting away with it more often than not. This is simply not the truth.
However, the statistics do punctuate the point that a DUI arrest does not always result in a conviction. This does not imply any sort of deficiency on the part of the justice system. When our clients tell us they have been falsely arrested, we fight their case. Many times we are able to get the case reduced to reckless driving, or we take the case to a jury trial. At trial, yes people have a good chance at success when they have viable defenses. Through good legal representation, we can effectively reduce these otherwise life-changing consequences and come to a fair outcome in our client's cases. We are able to prevent injustice when a person is falsely accused.
The truth is Georgia has done a good job of prosecuting DUI drivers and Georgia's DUI Conviction Rate matches up with conviction rates throughout the United States. There is no actual story here, yet every six months someone in the media does an "investigation" designed to alarm the public.