Question: I still can't believe I was arrested in Lawrenceville for DUI. It's my first arrest ever and it wasn't a pleasant experience. I don't think I should have been charged with drunk driving. I'd really like them to drop the charges against me. The whole thing was a mistake.
I was at a party and I didn't think I was drinking alcohol. I thought I was just drinking my friend's punch. The punch was good and had a very fruity, sweet taste. He called it “tropical punch.” I had a few cups of punch and I turned down the beers that were at the party. I was there with my wife and told her that she could drink so I'd take a night off.
But I got stopped by a Gwinnett County cop for speeding on our way home. The cop said I was going 24 miles over the speed limit. The cop asked if I'd been drinking; I told him that I hadn't. He said he smelled alcohol. I told him it was my wife that smelled of booze because she was drinking all night. She was actually sleeping in the backseat and she vomited.
The cop asked me to get out of the car and do some tests, which I did. He asked me to do a blow test on the street, which I did. Then he arrested me and took me to the jail. At the Gwinnett jail I took a breathalyzer test and blew a .177. I was twice the legal limit.
Do you think that I have a winning defense to the DUI charge if I plead ignorance, that it was a mistake because I didn't think I was drinking alcohol?
Answer: Ignorance or mistake as a defense will not work in your case. Since DUI is not a crime of intent, the prosecution does not need to prove that you intended to drink alcohol. The Gwinnett County solicitor’s office needs to prove that you were driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration, which you were.
If your defense prevailed, every DUI defendant would claim that they did not know they were consuming alcohol.
You may, however, have other defenses. A DUI attorney would also want to evaluate whether the stop of your car by the police was proper. But as for a defense based on mistake/ignorance, that is unlikely to prevail.
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