How have some DUI defendants not gotten a chance to prove their innocence, even three years after their initial arrest?
One Atlanta, Georgia woman knows this situation too well. Lauren Thomas was arrested in May 2015 for DUI, even though she claims she was not intoxicated. She was arrested because of her refusal to take a chemical test. She did submit to a field sobriety test at the time of the arrest. Her license was suspended for a year based solely on the results of the field sobriety test (many kinds of which are known to be unreliable) and her refusal to take the chemical test. Three years later, her case is still open.
In December of this year, a judge dismissed Thomas’s case and 26 others in Georgia, claiming the Fulton County Solicitors Office was unprepared in court and unable to call any of its witnesses. Seeing how long the cases had been stagnant, the judge made the decision not to give the prosecutors any more time. The judge dismissed the cases for “want of prosecution.”
The court’s prosecutors are short-staffed, causing major delays. Thomas ended up going to court with her attorney without ever seeing her own field sobriety test results or the full witness list for her case, documents that every defendant and their counsel should have before going to court.
In response to the judge’s dismissal of the DUI cases, the Solicitor’s Office has filed an appeal in all but one of the 27 cases, in which lawyers had already decided to dismiss.
Thomas and the other drivers must now hire a lawyer to file an appeal, and could very well end up back in court if the decision of the judge is overturned.
Thomas believes, as do many, that justice delayed is justice denied.