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Student Legal Services Series 1: DUI


Stephens & Brown, Athens Georgia’s premier DUI and criminal defense law firm, welcomes University of Georgia, University of North Georgia, Athens Technical College, and Piedmont College students back to Athens. The fall is an exciting time in Athens, with students returning to the city, and football season just around the corner. Former Bulldog All-American and criminal defense attorney Kim Stephens encourages incoming students to study, work hard, have fun, and be careful to avoid being arrested and forever branded as a criminal.

For the next several weeks our blog will focus on educating students about local laws and ordinances and helping them avoid legal problems and academic disputes.

Remember, if you are charged with a crime or asked to meet with school administrators about alleged crimes, it is essential that you hire an attorney who can provide you with a powerful defense and protect your future.  Kim Stephens defends students every day against false or inflated accusations, winning in court, and preventing incidents from impacting students’ education and lives beyond college.


Student Legal Services Series 1:


  1. If you are under the age of twenty-one and drive any vehicle after consuming alcoholic beverages (0.02 BAC or 1 alcoholic drink for most people), you may be charged with DUI. Even if you are lucky enough to avoid a DUI charge, your driver’s license would likely be suspended if you are charged with MIP while driving.  Don’t put yourself or others at risk.  Walk (preferably with a friend so that you won’t be a good candidate for being robbed or mugged), call a sober friend, have a designated driver, take a cab, or let Uber help you.
  2. If you are over the age of twenty-one and drive a vehicle (including bicycles, scooters, Segways, golf carts, horses, or any moving vehicle) with a blood alcohol level of .08, you will be charged with DUI in Athens. While television, radio and billboard advertisements call a DUI a $10,000.00 mistake, I know of a DUI conviction costing a person more than $200,000.00 because he lost his job, lost his company car, couldn’t find other work for over a year, almost lost his home, and suffered the more typical DUI I’ve also seen commercial drivers lose their licenses for a year or, for a second DUI permanently taking away their ability to work.  These cases demonstrate the severe impact a DUI can have whether you are a college student or a working adult.
  3. If you drive a vehicle improperly (speeding, failure to maintain lane, etc.) after consuming alcohol or using drugs, you may be charged with DUI less safe even if you refuse the breath or blood test. Often police officers will request that you take “a few tests” to determine if you are impaired.  You are not required to take these field sobriety tests.  Understand that police officers use the test to gather evidence against you, not to help you.  So, in almost every circumstance, you should refuse to do field sobriety tests at the scene of your stop.

2016 Update: Recent Georgia and United States Supreme Court cases have called into question the legality of blood tests to determine blood alcohol level in DUI cases without a valid search warrant.

  1. If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident after consuming alcohol or drugs, you may be charged with crimes ranging from misdemeanor reckless driving to felony vehicular homicide. A conviction for vehicular homicide almost always results in many years of prison time though Stephens & Brown has successfully kept clients out of jail in these serious cases including one client recently who caused the death of two elderly people after smoking marijuana.  Don’t take a chance of killing someone, ruining your life, and devastating the lives of family members for you and the person you might injure or kill.



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What Are Your Rights if You Are Pulled Over?


It never feels good to see the red and blue flashing lights of a police car in your rearview mirror, signaling you to pull over. Right away, your mind begins to race. What could you have done wrong, and how will you pay for any tickets you get? However, what you may not think about are your rights as an American citizen.

Under the law, you have some protection from unintentionally incriminating yourself. If you are pulled over by the police, keep these basic rights in mind:

  • An officer must have a reason to pull you over: A police officer cannot just pull you over without probable cause. Most drug busts happen because a driver was speeding or had a broken tail light. Without a firm reason such as those, the police cannot pull you over.
  • Don’t pull over if it’s not safe: If you believe that pulling your car over on a dangerous road would put your safety at risk, you can signal to an officer that you will continue driving until you are able to go off to the side of the road in a secure spot.
  • You can refuse a Breathalyzer® test at your own risk: It’s within your rights to refuse a Breathalyzer test in Georgia; however, such a refusal violates the state’s implied consent law. Your refusal could lead to a suspension of your license and a heavy fine unless you challenge the ruling.
  • A police officer can’t search your vehicle without cause: The police do not have the right to search your car without your permission, unless an officer notices something illegal — such as a container of alcohol — in plain view. However, a police officer can begin to search without a warrant if he or she notices exigent circumstances that force the issue, such as the destruction of evidence. This situation is most common in drug stops. However, without cause, evidence or exigent circumstances, the officer has no legal right to enter your car.

To better understand your rights, call Georgia criminal defense attorneys Michael S. Brown and Kim Stephens immediately after you are pulled over.

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