Football Star Hines Ward Arrested for DUI in DeKalb County

Posted by Richard Lawson | Jul 08, 2011 | 0 Comments

Early Saturday morning, around 2:30 a.m., Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol - DUI - in DeKalb County, GA.  He was reportedly taken to the DeKalb County jail and released on a $1,000 bond.  Ward played football for the University of Georgia and owns a home in the Atlanta area. 

The police officer allegedly observed Ward's vehicle not maintaining his lane and hitting against the curb.  Ward was reportedly cooperative and submitted to field sobriety testing.  He told officers he was returning from a club and had a couple of drinks.  However, once placed under arrest from DUI, Ward refused to submit to a breathalyzer

Ward's manager released a statement that Ward was not driving under the influence. Ward has had encounters with DeKalb law enforcement officers in the past.  In 2006, he was charged with speeding and reckless driving in DeKalb County.  He plead guilty to speeding and the reckless driving charge was dismissed.  

Ward is risking a one year suspension of his Georgia driving privileges.  As Ward also resides in Pittsburgh, he may not hold a Georgia license.  The state of Georgia only has the ability to suspend a Georgia drivers license, but may suspend the ability to operate a vehicle in the state of Georgia for an out of state licensee.  

If a driver refuses a breath or blood test when accused of DUI by a DeKalb County officer, Georgia Department of Driving Services ( DDS ) may suspend the license for one year without any temporary or limited driving permits available.  Within ten days of the date of the DUI arrest, the accused driver may appeal the suspension of his or her drivers license and will receive an  administrative license suspension ( ALS ) hearing.  

Ward will also have to go to Court in DeKalb County for his arraignment.  At arraignment he will formally enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.  A guilty plea is a conviction for DUI.  If this is Ward's first DUI conviction, he will face potential jail time, probation, hefty fines and court costs, a license suspension for one year, community service, alcohol and drug testing and counseling, and other terms of probation.  In addition, a DUI conviction stays on ones record forever and is not eligible for expungement at a later date.  It causes many drivers to be dropped from their auto insurance, or at the least, to see a significant increase in their premiums.     

If Ward enters a plea of not guilty at arraignment, he will likely file motions for discovery and suppression.  He will also begin his preparations for trial while at the same time, continue to plea bargain with DeKalb County DUI prosecutors.  At trial, prosecuting attorneys will have to prove the Ward was driving the vehicle and the was an impaired driver due to alcohol intoxication.  They will have to prove that the alleged poor driving the officer claims to have observed - failing to maintain lane and hitting the curb - were the result of being drunk.  Ward had a passenger in car who was determined to not be under he influence and was allowed to drive the car from the scene following Ward's arrest.  There were no  children in the car and there was not an accident.  That is a good thing as those conditions can elevate the punishments upon conviction and even get the case to be accused as a felony instead of a misdemeanor.  

If it goes to a jury trial (as opposed to a bench trial before a judge), the jury decides the issue of guilty or not guilty.  If not guilty, that is the end of the case.  If guilty, the judge determines the sentence.  Typically, the sentence the judge gives upon conviction is more severe than what is offered by DeKalb County prosecuting lawyers prior to trial.  

There are many potential defenses to DUI offenses in Georgia.  A skilled DUI attorney can examine the issues - from the initial police stop through the field sobriety testing and subsequent arrest.  In this case, Mr. Ward refused the breath test, which while having severe license suspension implications, also means the state has no over the limit breath test to use against him.  They have to rely on police observations such as the odor of alcohol, the drivers admissions to drinking, the drivers speech and eyes, and how the driver performed on the field sobriety tests in order to convict.  Mr. Ward has the right to testify or to not testify on his own behalf. 

ADeKalb County DUI defense lawyer can help you sort through all these issues and mount a strong defense to the charges.  An arrest alone does not mean a conviction.  DUI cases are fought and won in DeKalb County GA all the time.  If you or a loved one is facing a DUI in the Atlanta or Decatur area, call DeKalb DUI defense attorney Richard Lawson for a free case analysis.  Mr. Lawson and his team of lawyers have had years of experience getting their clients the best possible outcomes on their DeKalb Co. DUI charges.  Mr. Lawson devotes his practice to the aggressive defense of DUI cases.  So if you need a lawyer who gets results, call our office as soon as possible following your DeKalb DUI arrest.  Saving your Georgia drivers license may depend on it and the sooner we talk, the sooner we can begin to preserve evidence and mount a defense. 

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Richard S. Lawson is passionate about intoxicated driving defense. Unlike some attorneys, Mr. Lawson devotes 100% of his legal practice to helping people stand up for their rights against DUI charges. For more than 20 years, Mr. Lawson has dutifully fought for his clients' freedom, resolving more 4,900 impaired driving cases during the course of his career. Today, Mr. Lawson has developed a reputation as a skilled negotiator and continues to help clients by fighting to keep them out of jail.


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