The Georgia Code defines obstruction of a law enforcement officer in Georgia as when a person “knowingly and willfully resists, obstructs, or opposes any law enforcement officer, prison guard, correctional officer, probation supervisor, parole supervisor, or conservation ranger in the lawful discharge of his official duties by offering or doing violence to the person of such officer by offering or doing violence to the person of such officer or legally authorized person.” O.C.G.A. §16-10-24(b).
Why obstruction and DUI?
Obstruction of a law enforcement officer tends to be a typical, additional charge for a DUI offense in Georgia. Obstruction can be a single offense, but there is a reason as to why we commonly see it alongside DUIs. Someone who has just been pulled over and accused of driving under the influence will probably behave desperately and erratically.
What are examples of obstruction?
This state of mind can lead to many different actions that are considered as obstruction in the state of Georgia. If you do any of the following actions to an officer during a stop, you will most likely be charged with obstruction:
- Giving false information
- Consuming/attempting to consume drugs inside the vehicle
- Using profanity
- Refusing to accept citation
What about passengers?
Passengers can also be charged with obstruction of a law enforcement officer. Most of the time, passengers feel protective of the driver, especially when they are being questioned or tested for DUI. They may get out of the car in an attempt to ease tension or help the driver, but unfortunately, they usually make the situation worse.
What are the penalties for obstruction?
Obstruction can be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony in Georgia. As a misdemeanor obstruction charge, any penalties or punishments under misdemeanor sentencing laws in Georgia can apply. Usually, a misdemeanor obstruction charge results in a twelve-month maximum sentence, community service, up to $1,000 in fines, and anger management classes. The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony obstruction charge is a threat of violence. A felony obstruction charge means that the obstruction constituted a threat of violence to the officer. Looking to the list above, this could be shoving, kicking, etc. even if these acts do not result in injury to the officer. A felony obstruction charge can result in one to five years in prison, community service, anger management classes, and thousands of dollars in fines.
What do I do if I've received a charge for obstruction of a law enforcement officer?
Obstruction (misdemeanor or felony) and DUI charges are taken very seriously in Georgia. We can help. Our Georgia DUI Defense Lawyers are experienced in getting charges dropped or reduced to a less severe offense. We can work the case out to the advantage of all involved. If you have been arrested for obstruction or DUI or both, call the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson today.