Georgia DUI Cases of Note


State v. Hughes – the seige on standard of review continues and de novo wins again

Thursday, December 12, 2013

georgia DUI appeal standard of review State v. Hughes, A13A1399, Court of Appeals of Georgia, November 21, 2013. The Court of Appeals reversed the Trial Court in Columbus after granting a motion on probable cause that suppressed a blood test in a felony vehicular homicide.  This case represents another in a long line of recent cases where traditionally a clearly erroneous or any evidence standard has been replaced by de novo appellate review standard.  In Hughes, a 17 year was in an accident involving a fatality.  He allegedly ran a red light, hit a car and an utility pole.  The Officers initially arrested him for the traffic violation of running a red light and misdemeanor vehicular homicide.  No DUI field sobriety evaluations were performed or was DUI even suspected.  It was only after a search incident to arrest disclosed pills in his pocket, that the Officers arrested the Defendant for a Drug DUI less safe and read him implied consent for a blood test.  The Defendant challenged teh arrest arguing the pills changed nothing if there was no evidence of DUI before arrest.  The Muscogee State Court agreed and granted the motion for lack of probable cause to arrest for DUI and allow a blood test.  Traditionally probable cause cases have been reviewed under an any evidence or clearly erroneous standard, (See State v. Gray, 267 Ga.App. 753, 600 S.E.2d 626 (2004); State v. Ellison, 271 Ga. App. 898, 611 S.E.2d 129 (2005); and State v. Damato, 302 Ga. App. 181, 182 (1) (690 SE2d 478) (2010)) but here under the guise of undisputed evidence, the Court applied a de novo review of the admissible evidence to reach its own conclusion.  The Dissent argued that the Court disregarded any implicit credibility determinations and substituted its own judgement obtained from a cold record for that of the Trial Court which actually heard and weighed the live testimony in open court.  The Defendant intends to petition the Georgia Supreme Court to review this matter and has recently reversed the Court of Appeals regardings its standard of review creep in Brown v. State, No. S12G1287, Supreme Court of Georgia, October 21, 2013.







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