Elmer H. Young - Georgia DUI Attorney

Free Strategy Session Augusta and Macon: 706-284-4380 Savannah, Statesboro and Effingham: 912-400-0955

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Motion Hearings

In nearly all DUI cases a driver will attempt to avoid the introduction by the state of unfavorable evidence. Motions are used in this attempt. Motions may be in writing and in some cases made orally, but for this discussion I will focus on written motions. You may remember motions were expected to have been filed at or before arraignment. It is these same motions, perhaps amended with the discovery and investigation previously discussed, that will be involved here.

There is no limit to the type or scope of these various motions, except the imagination and innovation of the DUI defense attorney you choose to hire. These motions are asking the court to do certain things and rule on certain evidence the lawyer believes will be helpful. The prosecutor will counter by asking that the state be allowed to present whatever evidence necessary to obtain a conviction. These motions, drawn upon the specific facts of each case, are presented at a hearing, usually prior to the date of trial, for the judge to rule upon. There are innumerable variations of outcomes that can be expected. These variations are sometimes brought about by the personalities, politics and reputations of different judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys. The same facts may bring about different rulings in different counties. Understanding this apparent inconsistency in the administration of criminal justice is difficult for even people in the legal community to deal with, so confusion and apprehension by defendants and their families is easy to see. That is why so many appeals are filed each year.

Among the most important of these motions are the motions to suppress or exclude evidence. There are pieces of tangible evidence in each case ranging from open containers of alcoholic beverages to written reports of alcohol concentration, certificates, video and audio tape recordings and many other items, the disclosure of which could be damaging to the case for the defense. These items, if illegally obtained, may be suppressed. This illegal action may come about through an illegal search of vehicle, other property or the person. It may also come about because the officer or prosecutor or some person acting for the state used some improper method, or procedure in obtaining an otherwise admissible piece of evidence.

Motions to exclude testimony, or something that may be expected to be stated in court that is blatantly illegal, prejudicially harmful and otherwise irrelevant are referred to as motions in limine. These motions may be in writing or brought orally at any time, and are useful only before that testimony is offered, as opposed to after the damage has been done by have the testimony heard by the judge or jury. Then a simple objection and request to strike may be offered but it is difficult to "un-ring the bell".

The better practice is to have these hearings recorded by a court reporter and transcripts prepared well in advance of trial. Some judges will postpone these hearings until just prior to trial, perhaps even immediately prior, in which case no allowance in time can be made for alternative planning or "strategizing" based on the results of these hearings. That is where experience comes into play.