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Law News & Opinions

High Crimes & Misdemeanors

Lower Charges When High?

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DUI while high?

No prosecutor want to reduce DUI charges. But evidentiary concerns are key for “go or no” in prosecutorial decisions.

Question: (from Avvo.com) Can I get a DUI charge reduced if I’ve never been in trouble before? I was charged with being under the influence of marijuana while driving?

My answer: Without far more information, there is simply no way to know whether your charges, from the perspective of the prosecutor, could or should be reduced.

As a former prosecutor, there were many factors that went into my decision whether or not to offer a reduction in charges to a defendant. Among those factors were (1) what driving manifestations (if any) led up to the arrest; (2) did the defendant perform field sobriety tests and, if so, how did they perform; (3) was the defendant properly advised of their rights and obligations per Georgia's implied consent law; (4) was there an admissible test of the defendant's blood, breath, urine and/or other bodily substance confirming the presence of an intoxicating substance; (5) was there video evidence of the incident and what does that evidence show; and (6) what was the driving and criminal history of the defendant.

These above listed factors are not at all exhaustive, nor were they alone or in combination necessarily determinative of my assessment. Also important is the amount of discretion allowed an individual prosecutor. Depending on the jurisdiction you are in, the final decision on a reduction may be with the assigned prosecutor, it may need to be reviewed by a senior prosecutor, or it may be ultimately only the elected Solicitor General or District Attorney may be authorized to reduce a DUI charge.