On June 23, 2011, the United States Supreme Court upheld the 6th Amendment to the Constitution that requires testimonial witnesses against the Defendant to be subject to cross examination. In Bullcoming v New Mexico, the trial court allowed a coworker of the blood test examiner to testify about the blood test results of the Defendant. The coworker testified, instead of the examiner who performed the test, because he was on unexplained leave of absence from the lab. Since the test results were testimonial as to the results and how the test was performed, the Supreme court reversed the conviction because the Defendant was not allowed to cross examine the person who performed the test during the trial. This is a very important decision since the crime lab personnel are very busy and not always available in a timely fashion when a case is taken to trial. Although this is a DUI case, this Supreme Court decision will apply to all cases where evidence was tested by the crime lab and the results are needed to help convict the accused.
Georgia's Super Speeder law:
The law in Georgia on the Super Speeder tickets went into effect on January 1, 2010. It provides that anyone pleading guilty to the charge of exceeding the speed limit by 75 mph on a two lane road, and 85 mph on any road shall be issued an additional fee by the Department of Driver Services in the amount of $200.00. The Department has 30 days upon receipt of the notice of conviction to issue the additional charge.
If the offender fails to pay the additional fee within 90 days, the Department of Driver Services shall suspend the driver's license of the offender. Said license will remain suspended until the offender pays the additional fee, plus $50.00 to apply to have his license reinstated.
The additional fee of $200.00 goes into the General Fund of the State of Georgia, with the "intent" that said fees will be used to fund a trauma care system. That remains to be seen.
The courts handling the super speeder cases will not get any of the money paid by the offenders for the super speeder fee of $200.00. Accordingly, I suspect that many courts will be willing to reduce speeding cases below the 75 and 85 mph level to encourage people to enter pleas of guilty and avoid the super speeder fees. I've talked to at least one prosecutor who states that is what he expects to happen.
Traffic deaths for 2008 were the lowest number since 1961 at 1.28 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled, down from 1.36 in 2007. This news comes with reports that seat belt usage has continued to climb.
The Department is investing $13 million in advertising over the Labor Day holiday for a campaign named "Drunk Driving. Over the limit. Under arrest." No doubt there will be roadblocks to catch DUI drivers over that holiday period.
Recent case law in Georgia makes it easier for people to be arrested for DUI. All you have to do is blow into the portable breath testing device at the pullover. Police frequently lie to drivers and state that the PBT only indicates positive or negative for alcohol, but it actually prints out a number, so the police will be able to tell where you are on the range of alcohol consumed and decide whether or not you are over the limit and should be arrested. They can't use the PBT number in court to prove that you scored at a certain level, but they can use the Intox 5000 breath test results to show you were over the limit.
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