Strickland v. State: A Victory for Defendants charged on traffic violations like DUI and charged on a paper Uniform Traffic Citations in Georgia
In a 2019 case, Strickland v. State, 349 Ga. App. 673, 675(2), 824 S.E.2d 555 (2019), the Georgia Court of Appeals held that a traffic citation or paper traffic ticket that fails to allege the essential elements of the offense is fatally defective. This decision, Strickland v. State, could be beneficial to people cited for DUI in Georgia. There are six different ways a DUI can be charged in Georgia: less safe alcohol, less safe drugs, inhalants, alcohol and drug in combination less safe, over the legal limit alcohol, and illegal drugs.
In Strickland, the defendant was charged with following too closely in violation of OCGA § 40-6-49. The citation alleged that Strickland “followed too closely” and cited OCGA § 40-6-49. However, OCGA § 40-6-49 requires that the driver of a motor vehicle “shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.” To withstand a motion to dismiss otherwise known as a general demurrer, an “indictment [accusation, or traffic ticket] must either (1) recite the language of the statute that sets out all the elements of the offense charged, or (2) allege the facts necessary to establish violation of a criminal statute.” The citation did not allege that Strickland’s following was unreasonable or imprudent, and it did not allege the speed of the vehicles or the condition of the highway. As a result, the citation failed to allege the essential elements of the offense.
The trial court denied Strickland’s motion to quash the citation, and Strickland was convicted of following too closely. However, the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed Strickland’s conviction, holding that the citation was fatally defective because it did not allege the following was unreasonable or imprudent.
The Strickland decision is a victory for DUI defendants in Georgia because it sets a precedent that citations that fail to allege the essential elements of the offense in the statute or facts necessary to establish a violation are invalid. This means that if you are cited for DUI in Georgia, you may be able to have your citation dismissed if the citation fails to allege the essential elements of the offense for example “did drive or be in actual physical control of a moving vehicle” while less safe or while over the legal limit for alcohol of 0.08 grams or does not allege facts on the face of the ticket.
If you have been cited for DUI in Georgia, it is important to speak with an attorney to discuss your case. An attorney can help you determine whether the citation against you is valid and can represent you in court if necessary.