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Georgia lawmaker arrested for DUI

Georgia readers may recall reading about a state lawmaker's efforts to extend the war against drugs and drunk driving into the welfare arena. The lawmaker, state House Rep. Chuck Simms, wanted welfare recipients to be subject to certain chemical testing requirements, perhaps at periodic intervals.

Yet the Georgia lawmaker will soon get a new perspective on the criminal justice system's approach to drug offenders. Simms was recently arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence. He reportedly came under suspicion when a local officer observed him driving erratically in Coffee County, Georgia.

Notably, this is not the lawmaker's first brush with potential career devastation. In 2010, Sims was involved in a similar DUI allegation. However, effective plea bargaining -- perhaps with the assistance of a skilled DUI defense attorney -- resulted in a lesser charge of reckless driving.

State law imposes severe penalties for impaired or drunk driving, perhaps in an effort to deter multiple DUI offenders. Regardless of whether the impairment was caused by drugs or alcohol, a criminal defendant arrested on DUI charges will need to mount an aggressive defense. In that regard, all aspects of the arrest might provide basis for a defense challenge. Although a traffic violation or erratic driving might satisfy the requirements for an initial stop, any further field sobriety or breath tests must be justified by probable cause.

Yet prosecutors might be open to negotiation for lesser charges, especially for first time DUI offenders. In addition, other factors might help mitigate a charge into a lesser punishment, such as an accidental additional dosage of prescription medication, or a physical condition that exaggerated the effects of alcohol or drugs on the day in question.

Source: Huffington Post, "Chuck Sims, Georgia Lawmaker Who Supported Welfare Drug Testing, Charged With DUI," Preston Maddock, April 10, 2013