If you are facing criminal charges for driving under the influence (DUI) in the state of Georgia, a strong defense is your best ally in court. To determine the ideal defense strategy, you must know everything you can about your case. Your DUI records will often give you just what you need to challenge your arrest and avoid a drunk driving conviction.
The Georgia Open Records Act
State law requires certain legal documents to be made available to the public. However, you must submit a separate Open Records request to each agency involved in your case to obtain this information. For example, if you were arrested by the Alpharetta Police Department for DUI, but a person placed a “be on the lookout” call for your vehicle from the Johns Creek, you must contact the police department for a police report, the 911 center for call logs, the jail for an arrest video, and so on. Oftentimes, several jurisdictions participate in roadblock enforcement. It is common for the City of Roswell, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, City of Atlanta, and the Georgia State patrol to coordinate on a joint roadblock to look for DUI drivers.
While most DUI records are accessible through the Open Records Act, certain documents may not be treated as public information. The information made available to you can also vary from one agency to another—some may give you access to everything they have, while others may provide only what is legally required under the Open Records Act. Check with each agency to determine what information they have and whether or not it is available to you.
Keep in mind that while the information you are requesting may be available to the public, it isn’t free. Depending on the agency, you may be charged by the page and/or for any time spent searching for your files. Before you submit an Open Records request, be sure to ask about these fees. If the agency charges a per-page fee, ask for an estimate before submitting an official request so you know what the final cost will be.
In some instances, it may be beneficial to obtain information about the officer who arrested you. The Georgia Peace Officer Standard and Training Council will provide a detailed report on the officer, with information about his or her training, employment history, and disciplinary actions. You may also want to obtain other materials such as maintenance records for the device used during your breathalyzer or copies of any training manuals used by law enforcement, as this information may prove helpful during the officer’s cross-examination. Some of these documents are maintained by the GBI division of Forensic Science Implied Consent section.
How an Attorney Can Help
To improve the outcome of your Georgia DUI trial, it is important to have an experienced defense attorney review all of the records related to your case. The skilled attorneys of Kohn & Yager can assist you every step of the way—from helping you submit an Open Records request to determining the ideal defense strategy for your case.
With 24/7 availability, we’re here whenever you need us. Keep in mind that many DUI cases start in a Municipality like the City of Milton and then are able to be moved by a jury demand to the State Court of Fulton County. Some smaller jurisdictions like Johns Creek or Marietta are very helpful in providing documents, while other places like Decatur will assert that any document you request is not subject to the Open Record Act. A qualified Atlanta DUI lawyer like Larry Kohn and Cory Yager will be able to sort through the mess and hopefully find a way to help.