DUI: License Suspension

How can my license to drive be suspended administratively and again if I am convicted of DUI? 

This is a good question.  Georgia law thinks of driving as a privilege and not a right.  On the administrative end, the law provides the Department of Driver Services (hereafter “DDS”) may take your license (viewed as a privilege) if there is a showing that you were more likely than not driving under the influence.  This standard of proof is much lower than in a criminal case where the standard is beyond a reasonable doubt.  

Where does license suspension begin?

The administrative license suspension (ALS) process begins when the arresting officer takes your driver’s license and issues you a “1205 Form” which acts as a 45 day driving permit upon a DUI arrest. DDS must receive a copy of the 1205 Form from law enforcement before a hearing can be scheduled or a limited driving permit can be issued.

Despite the arrest, the driver’s license is still valid until DDS receives the 1205 Form and 45 days have passed since the 1205 Form was served. The suspension is “pending” once DDS receives the 1205 form until the outcome of the administrative hearing.  Once DDS receives the 1205 Form this 45 day driving permit will take effect and your driver’s license status will remain “pending.” This 45 day permit can be extended if the OSAH hearing is not held within 45 days. There are no limited driving restrictions with respect to this 45 day permit.

What are my options?

There are two approaches to dealing with an administrative license suspension: (1) request a hearing to appeal the suspension; or (2) elect to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. 

DDS must receive the request for a hearing within 30 actual days (not business days) of the service of the 1205 Form. The hearing request must contain a $150 filing fee, the correct date of the arrest or incident, and the correct name of the driver, date of birth, and driver’s license number. Incorrect information could delay the hearing or cause a delayed suspension. Once the hearing request letter is received, your driver’s license will not go into suspension until you are afforded the ALS hearing before the Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH).

What happens at the hearing?

If you requested a hearing, the DDS will send you and your attorney a notice of a hearing date, time and location.  The officer who stopped you is required to testify in front of an administrative law judge. The scope of the hearing is limited to the following:      

  • (A) Whether the law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving or in actual physical control of a moving motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and was lawfully placed under arrest for violating Code Section 40-6-391; or
  •   (B) Whether the person was involved in a motor vehicle accident or collision resulting in serious injury or fatality; and
  •       (C) Whether at the time of the request for the test or tests the officer informed the person of the person’s implied consent rights and the consequence of submitting or refusing to submit to such test; and
  •       (D) Whether the person refused the test; or
  •       (E) Whether a test or tests were administered and the results indicated an alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams or more or, for a person under the age of 21, an alcohol concentration of 0.02 grams or more or, for a person operating or having actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle, an alcohol concentration of 0.04 grams or more; and
  •    
      (F) Whether the test or tests were properly administered by an individual possessing a valid permit issued by the Division of Forensic Sciences of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on an instrument approved by the Division of Forensic Sciences or a test conducted by the Division of Forensic Sciences, including whether the machine at the time of the test was operated with all its electronic and operating components prescribed by its manufacturer properly attached and in good working order, which shall be required. A copy of the operator’s permit showing that the operator has been trained on the particular type of instrument used and one of the original copies of the test results or, where the test is performed by the Division of Forensic Sciences, a copy of the crime lab report shall satisfy the requirements of this subparagraph.

If the judge believes the officer legally satisfied the aforementioned requirements, your license shall be suspended.

What if I lose the ALS hearing?

If you took the requested test, your breath/blood results were over .08, and you lose the ALS hearing:

Your license/privilege to drive will be suspended for 1 year; however, after 30 days from the effective date of suspension, you may apply for reinstatement of your license, provided you do the following:

  1. 1. Submit an original certificate of completion of an approved DUI Alcohol/Drug Use Risk Reduction Program;
  2. 2. Remit a $210.00 restoration fee (or $200.00 if reinstatement is processed for by mail).

This suspension will not age off, but will remain active until you have completed the requirements listed above.[1]

If this is your first DUI in the last five years, you may be eligible for a Non-Ignition Interlock limited driving permit.[2] Your license must be under suspension (lose ALS hearing or no request for hearing is made). These types of limited permits are issued at DDS locations and are renewable in 30 day increments. They’re also referred to as “ALS Permits.”

What if I refused to take the requested test and lose the ALS hearing?

If you refused to take the State’s breath test, your license/privilege to drive in Georgia shall be suspended for one year.  You will not be eligible for a temporary/limited driving permit.  The suspension ages off at the end of 1 year.

What if you request a hearing but the officer never submits the 1205 Form to DDS?

Georgia law requires the officer to submit the 1205 Form to DDS within 10 days of serving you with notice.[3] If the 1205 Form is not received, OSAH will send you a 91 day letter stating they have not received the 1205 Form. You will be entitled to a refund of your $150 filing fee. You must request the refund through the DDS form.[4] In addition, the 1205 Temporary Driving Permit Extension is no longer valid. As a result, you can obtain a new driver’s license from DDS so long as you indicate on your application for new license that your previous license was taken by an officer.

The Ignition Interlock Device Permit Approach[5]

The issuance of an “Ignition Interlock Device Limited Permit”, is conditioned upon you waiving your right to an administrative hearing and having an ignition interlock device installed your vehicle.  The current ALS process, including the right to an administrative hearing, will remain in place as an option if you do not qualify for or do not wish to obtain this type of permit.     

In addition to waiving your right to an administrative hearing and having an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle, you must also meet the following conditions:

  • Application for the permit must be made with DDS within 30 days of the person being served notice of the ALS by the arresting officer through the DS-1205 form, or—in the event of a DS-1205S form—within 30 days of receiving such notice of the ALS from DDS;
  • The ALS cannot stem from a motor vehicle accident involving fatalities or serious injuries;
  • You must be licensed in Georgia and not have any other suspensions, cancellations, or revocations against his or her Georgia driver’s license;
  • If you hold a Georgia commercial driver’s license (CDL), you must downgrade to a non-commercial Georgia driver’s license in order to obtain and maintain the permit;
  • You cannot have any prior convictions for DUI in the 5-year period preceding application for the permit;
  • You must surrender his or her Georgia driver’s license, either to the arresting officer at time of arrest or to DDS prior to issuance of the permit; and,
  • You must pay a $25.00 permit fee.

The period of time in which you must successfully maintain the ignition interlock device on their vehicle depends on whether you consented to or refusedS the state-administered chemical test requested by the arresting officer.

Consent v. Refusal

A person who consents to the state-administered chemical test and opts for the new permit will be required to successfully maintain the ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a period of 4 months.  If you are subsequently acquitted of the underlying DUI charge, or the underlying DUI charge is dismissed or reduced, the ignition interlock restriction may be removed at no cost and the driver’s license may be replaced.  The decision as to whether a fee is charged for removal of the ignition interlock device from your vehicle under such circumstances will be at the discretion of the device provider. A person who refused the state-administered chemical test and opted for the Ignition Interlock permit will be required to successfully maintain the ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a period of 12 months, regardless of the outcome of the underlying DUI charge.   

Successful maintenance of the ignition interlock device must be evidenced by the permit holder to DDS through the production of satisfactory monthly monitoring reports prior to DDS removing the ignition interlock restriction from the permit.  A permit may be renewed for a fee of $5.00 if additional time is needed for the permit holder to comply with the terms of the ignition interlock device, but it may only be renewed one time once the permit holder becomes eligible to reinstate his or her driver’s license. Following the designated term of successful compliance, the ignition interlock device restriction may be removed from the limited driving permit in person at a DDS customer service center for a fee of $100.00 (or $90.00 if removal of the restriction is requested by mail or other approved alternate means).  The removal fee is in addition to any reinstatement fee that may be required.

Driver’s License Suspension Under Criminal Law

O.C.G.A. § 40-5-63 provides for the terms and conditions governing the driver’s license suspension for any person convicted of DUI. Upon the first conviction, the suspension period is for 12 months. Like we saw before, after 120 days, you may apply to DDS for a reinstatement of your driver’s license (upon proof of Risk Reduction and restoration fee, discussed above).

Upon a second DUI conviction in the last five years (measured from the date of arrest), the suspension period is three years. You can still apply for reinstatement but would not be eligible for reinstatement until after ten months (as opposed to 120 days).

Upon a third conviction within the last five years, you will be considered a habitual violator and your driver’s license shall be revoked.

Periods of suspension under this code section begin on the date you are convicted of the offense. It is important to note that suspension time pursuant to an Administrative License Suspension under to O.C.G.A. § 40-5-67.1 shall be counted toward fulfillment of any period of suspension subsequently imposed as a result of a conviction of violating O.C.G.A. §40-6-391 which arises out of the same violation for which the Administrative License Suspension was imposed. O.C.G.A. § 40-5-67.2(b). For example, if your license was suspended for 6 months after an adverse ALS hearing and you are ultimately convicted of DUI, then you will receive credit for those six months towards time your license is to be suspended as a result of the conviction.

Call Us Today

If you or someone you know has been arrested for driving under the influence, contact the law firm of W. Scott Smith at 404.581.0999 today for a free case evaluation. You’ll find a local Atlanta DUI attorney ready to aggressively fight on your behalf. You can also find out more detailed information about Atlanta laws here.           


[1] Suspension time pursuant to an Administrative License Suspension pursuant to O.C.G.A. §40-5-67.1 shall be counted toward fulfillment of any period of suspension subsequently imposed as a result of a conviction of violating O.C.G.A. §40-6-391 which arises out of the same violation for which the Administrative License Suspension was imposed. O.C.G.A. Code Section 40-5-67.2(b).

[2] O.C.G.A. § 40-5-64

[3] O.C.G.A. § 40-5-67.1

[4] https://dds.georgia.gov/documents/refund-request-form

[5] The information contained in this section is taken from DDS’ website: https://dds.georgia.gov/press-releases/2017-06-27/new-ignition-interlock-device-limited-permit-available-july-1st-updated

Georgia DUI – License Hearing and Ignition Interlock Device

Do I fight for a license hearing or choose an Ignition Interlock Device? This is a tough question but one that must be answered within thirty days of your arrest. The Ignition Interlock device is a decent option for those individuals charged with a DUI-Refusal where they are facing a hard one-year suspension if they lose the administrative license hearing. The license hearing is the only recommended route for a DUI-Per Se case where you ultimately submitted to a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine. This recommendation is based on the fact that you are eligible for a limited driving permit even if you lose the hearing. Installing the Ignition Interlock in this situation will just add unnecessary burden and expense. Still, many times we will advise you to submit a request for an administrative hearing even if you are facing the one-year hard suspension , but that decision is based on your personal needs and the facts of your case.

If you wish to file an appeal and request an administrative hearing, then the formal request must be mailed off within thirty days from the date of your arrest. Those are not thirty business days and that is a strict deadline so you must mail your request the Friday before the deadline if it falls on a weekend.

If you wish to go the Ignition Interlock route, then you must first install the Ignition Interlock device at a certified provider. With the Ignition Interlock installed, you must then go to your local DDS branch to show proof of installation and file a waiver of the administrative hearing.

Making this decision isn’t easy, but it’s often the first step of the DUI process. For an in-depth evaluation of all your options, call us today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

Atlanta DUI Lawyer

by Mary Agramonte

If you or a loved one has been charged with an Atlanta DUI, picking the right criminal defense attorney can be challenging. You need to look to the credentials, success rate, and reputation of the attorney in the field. Even if you believe you are guilty of the DUI, it is still important to contact an attorney experienced in complex area of DUI law as having a knowledgeable DUI attorney can be the difference in saving and losing your driver’s license. There are some DUIs that if you plead guilty, your license is suspended without a limited permit. The license repercussions of a DUI conviction are one of many reasons to contact a DUI attorney.

Call our firm to speak with experienced DUI attorneys on how to best defend your case. Experienced Atlanta lawyers in our firm are available any time, including nights and weekends, to provide you with the best possible outcome and advice. We can be contacted 24/7 at 404-581-0999 and provide free consultations.

Our firm consists of six highly trained Atlanta and Fulton County attorneys. We have an office near the Municipal Court of Atlanta – and have successfully defended against hundreds of Atlanta DUIs. W. Scott Smith has 18 years of DUI under his belt. He is active The National College of DUI Defense, Georgia Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers, The Lawyer Club of Atlanta, the Cobb County Bar Association and the Sandy Springs Bar Association.

The address of the Atlanta Municipal Court is 150 Garnett Street. This court handles all cases where defendants are charged with traffic misdemeanors and local ordinances within the City of Atlanta in Fulton County. Atlanta has its own police department, and so if you are arrested for a DUI in Fulton County by an Atlanta Police Officer, your case will begin in the Atlanta Municipal Court. Additionally, if you are pulled over and arrested by a Trooper with the Georgia State Patrol within the City of Atlanta, your case will also begin in the Atlanta Municipal Court. DUI Court is currently held by Judge Bey at 1pm and 3pm daily. If you’ve been arrested and are in custody, Atlanta Muncipal Court Judges hold bond hearings Sunday through Friday, daily. The Atlanta Municipal Court does not always hold bond hearings Saturdays, so if you were arrested late Friday night or early Saturday morning you may not see a Judge until Sunday.

If you have been arrested with a DUI in Atlanta or in Fulton County, our lawyers are ready to fight to avoid a DUI conviction. We are a group of knowledgeable attorneys prepared to defend against your Atlanta DUI in order to best protect your freedom and your license. If you have been charged with Driving under the Influence and your case is in the Atlanta Municipal Court, call a law firm with the experience necessary to achieve the most favorable result for you.  We are available 24/7 to speak with you about your Atlanta DUI at 404-581-0999.

 

Marietta Driving under the Influence (DUI) Lawyer

by Mary Agramonte

If you or a loved one has been charged with a Marietta DUI, contact our firm to speak with experienced DUI attorneys on how to best defend your case. Experienced Marietta lawyers in our firm are available any time, including nights and weekends, to provide you with the best possible outcome and advice. We can be contacted 24/7 at 404-581-0999 and provide free consultations.

Our firm consists of six highly trained Marietta and Cobb County attorneys. We have an office near the Marietta Square and Cobb Courthouse – with the Peach State Lawyer Hummer parked out front. W. Scott Smith has 18 years of DUI under his belt, and is active The National College of DUI Defense, Georgia Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers, The Lawyer Club of Atlanta, the Cobb County Bar Association and the Sandy Springs Bar Association. Mary Agramonte is an associate of W. Scott Smith and is a Marietta and Cobb County DUI lawyer and has successfully completed multiple advanced DUI seminars, as well as attended the renowned Bill Daniels Trial Lawyers College.

The address of Marietta Municipal Court is 240 Lemon St NE, Marietta, GA 30060. It is located in the same building as the Marietta Police Department. This court handles all cases where defendants are charged with traffic misdemeanors and local ordinances within the City of Marietta in Cobb County. The City of Marietta has its own police department, and so if you are arrested for a DUI in Cobb County by a Marietta Police Officer, your case will begin in the Marietta Municipal Court.

If you have been arrested with a DUI in Marietta or in Cobb County, our lawyers are ready to fight to avoid a DUI conviction. We are a group of knowledgeable attorneys prepared to defend against your Cobb County DUI in order to best protect your freedom and your license. If you have been charged with Driving with a Suspended License, a Super Speeder Speeding ticket, or Possession of Marijuana, and your case is in the Marietta Municipal Court, then call a law firm with the experience necessary to achieve the most favorable result for you.  We are available 24/7 to speak with you about your Marietta DUI or Marietta traffic case at 404-581-0999.

VIDEO – What Happens to Your Georgia Drivers License After You Are Arrested for DUI in Georgia

You’ve been arrested for DUI in Georgia. The officer has read you Georgia’s Implied Consent Notice, requesting a blood or breath test. What do you do? What happens if you refuse to take the State’s test? Can you get a permit to drive to work or school? What happens to your drivers license after DUI arrest in Georgia?

Watch the video below and call us today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation or to answer your questions.

What happens to your Georgia Driver’s License after DUI arrest in Georgia?

Hello, I’m attorney Scott Smith and today we’re talking about what happens to your Georgia Driver’s License after you’ve been arrested for DUI here in Georgia.

You’re arrested for DUI. You’re read from an orange card asking for a blood or breath test and then later the police officer takes your license from you. In its place he hands you a sheet of paper called a DDS 1205 form. I’ve got an example right here. It has some basic information on the top and on the bottom it says notice of license suspension and temporary driving permit.

Can the officer take my license from me? What is this sheet of paper? Why did I receive it?

That piece of paper is going to act as your temporary Georgia driver’s license. In Georgia, our law allows the police officer to take your license from you and return it to the Department of Driver Services, also known as DDS for suspension by simply being suspected of DUI. That piece of paper that the officer gives you in place of your license states your license will be suspended in thirty days if you do not request an appeal of the suspension within ten business days from the date of your arrest. In essence, you only have ten days to prevent an automatic suspension of your license. If you don’t appeal the pending suspension, your license gets suspended.

You may lose your ability to drive for one year. If you are arrested for DUI and you did not give the officer the test they requested, that means a one year suspension with no ability to get a work permit to drive for work. If you did give the requested sample, and the result was over the legal limit, you may be eligible for a work permit.

At our office of experienced Atlanta criminal defense attorneys, we can look at your case, let you know if you need to submit a request for appeal, help you make sure your appeal is submitted correctly so you do not lose your right to drive, and we’ll even give you a copy of the ten day letter which you can submit on your own to get the process started.

Don’t lose your ability to drive after a DUI arrest. Call us today at 404-581-0999. Thank you.

DUI Refusal Reaches the Supreme Court

SUPREME COURT UPDATE:  Can they charge me with a crime for refusing the breath test?

On April 20, 2016, the Supreme Court heard argument on Birchfield v. North Dakota.  The case addressed the question of whether a State can criminalize the refusal to submit to a chemical test of blood, breath, or urine without a warrant.   In both Minnesota and North Dakota, it is a separate crime to refuse to take the State chemical test.   Prosecutors for both the State of Minnesota and the State of North Dakota argued that an officer’s request for a breath sample without a warrant protects against evidence spoiling (BAC dropping over a period of time).  Interestingly, the Supreme Court Justice’s peppered both lawyers with factual scenarios about the reality that, with today’s technological capabilities, it is fairly easy for a police officer to contact a magistrate judge to obtain a warrant.   Interestingly, the Justices did not focus all of their tough questions towards the State.  It appears that the Justices had significant feelings about the minimally invasive nature of a breath test in comparison with a blood test.  There also seemed to be some confusion about the use of a roadside portable breath test versus a State administered breath test at the jail.

Georgia currently does not have a criminal penalty for refusing to take the State administered breath test.  Instead, Georgia law allows officers to request a civil penalty (loss of your license for 12 months) for refusing to take the State administered blood/breath/urine test.   However, the decision of the Supreme Court will almost certainly impact Georgia DUI cases going forward.   If the court were to side with the defendants in this case, we certainly can expect the opinion to express strong 4th amendment language that could impact other types of DUI cases.   On the other hand, if the court were to side with the State of Minnesota and North Dakota, we can expect other States, Georgia included, to introduce legislation that would criminalize the refusal of a State administered test.

Our lawyers will be watching closely when the Supreme Court releases their opinion this fall.  For more information about the case, check out the oral arguments at:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/audio/2015/14-1468   and

http://www.scotusblog.com/2016/04/argument-analysis-criminal-penalties-for-refusal-to-take-a-breathalyzer-test-in-jeopardy/

We will certainly provide an update when the Supreme Court releases their final ruling.

MULTIPLE DUIs

MULTIPLE DUIs

Dealing with a DUI is never easy.   More often than not our clients come into our office confused about the process in front of them and the consequences they may face going forward; both with their license and the pending criminal case.   Much of the confusion can be attributed to the complexity of the case and the lack of information provided to individuals by the arresting officer.  Things can get even more confusing when someone is facing a second, third, or even fourth DUI.   In Georgia, the penalty ranges for multiple DUIs change drastically from a first lifetime arrest.   This blog post will address both the minimum criminal consequences and license implications for someone facing the possibility of having a subsequent DUI in Georgia.chicago-dui-lawyer

Criminal Consequences

Prosecutors throughout Georgia have a tendency of becoming very aggressive with individuals facing a subsequent DUI.    On a first lifetime DUI the statute only requires that a defendant serve a minimum of twenty-four hours in jail and limited special conditions.   Second, third, and fourth DUIs within a ten-year period include significantly more consequences than a first DUI.

The Georgia Code specifies the different minimum sentence requirements for multiple DUI convictions.  The Code measures the time frame for DUI penalties in 10-year increments.  The number of DUIs is calculated from the date of arrests, not the date of prior conviction.  Here is a snapshot of the minimum consequences for a subsequent DUI:

SECOND DUI WITHIN A 10 YEAR PERIOD

  • Probation:
    • The Judge must place an offender on 12 months’ probation
    • Jail:
      • 90 days minimum; the Judge has the authority to suspend all but 72 hours in custody.
      • Fine:
        • $600 – $1000
        • Special Conditions:
          • 30 days Community Service
          • Risk Reduction (DUI School)
          • Clinical Evaluation and Follow up Treatment
          • MORE depending on jurisdiction 

THIRD DUI WITHIN A 10-YEAR PERIOD (High and Aggravated Misdemeanor)

  • Probation:
    • The Judge must place an offender on 12 months’ probation
    • Jail:
      • 120 days minimum; the Judge has the authority to suspend all but 15 days .
      • Fine:
        • $1000 – $5000
        • Special Conditions:
          • 30 days Community Service
          • Risk Reduction (DUI School)
          • Clinical Evaluation and Follow up Treatment
          • MORE depending on jurisdiction

FOURTH DUI OR MORE WITHIN A 10-YEAR PERIOD (FELONY)

  • Probation:
    • The sentence range is 1-5 years; Judge must place on probation for at least 5 years (minus any days spent in custody).

*If number of DUIs included convictions prior to July 1, 2008, then misdemeanor

  • Jail:
    • 1 year minimum; Judge can suspend all but 90 days.
    • Fine:
      • $1000 – $5000
      • Special Conditions:
        • 60 days Community Service
        • Risk Reduction (DUI School)
        • Clinical Evaluation and Follow up Treatment
        • MORE depending on jurisdiction

It’s important to note that all of the above listed consequences are minimum requirements.   As mentioned above, prosecutors and judges throughout the State are very aggressive on multiple DUIs and their sentence recommendations often exceed the minimum requirements.

License Consequences

“What’s going to happen to my license?”

A great question, and probably the most common question we get on any DUI case.   The Department of Driver Services (“DDS”) is the entity in Georgia who calculates both the type and length of suspension a person convicted of DUI will receive.   Unlike the criminal consequences, DDS uses a 5-year increment in determining license suspensions for DUI convictions.   Below is the framework DDS uses in determining license suspension for a post-conviction suspension.  It is important to note, that there are possible administrative suspensions that occur prior to a DUI case even going to trial (see Administrative Suspensions).

SECOND DUI WITHIN 5-YEAR PERIOD (Over 21 years old)

–          18 month total suspension

  • 12 months hard suspension (no license)
  • Interlock Permit after 120 days w/ Court Permission
  • $210 Reinstatement Fee
  • Proof of DUI School

THIRD DUI WITHIN 5-YEAR PERIOD (Over 21 years old)

–          Five Years

  • Habitual Violator Status (See: Habitual Violator)
  • $410 Reinstatement Fee
  • Proof of DUI School

You can find more information at www.dds.ga.gov.

What does it all mean?  It means that multiple DUIs are tricky.  They take a significant amount of knowledge and experience to navigate through to a successful result.   Every case is different and often a subsequent DUI must be fought in order to save jobs, licenses, and criminal histories.   Our lawyers are trained for these very types of cases.  Please contact us today at 404-581-0999 if you fit into any of the above listed categories.

Labor Day: Traffic Stop Tips

LABOR DAY WEEKEND EDITION: What Do You Need To Know During A Police Traffic Stop?

trafficstoppic

Most people share a general sense of anxiety when they see blue lights flashing in their rear-view mirror.  If you’re like me, when the blue lights come on your heart starts beating 100 mph, you start sweating, and your mind is racing.   Here are some helpful pointers on how to interact with a police officer during a traffic stop.

WHEN YOU SEE THE “BLUE LIGHTS”

1)   Slow down and pull over as quickly as possible.  You never want to give the officer the impression that you’re attempting to get away.  Also, you don’t want to slam on the brakes immediately.  Find a safe location (parking lot, driveway, open area on the side of the road, etc..) and pull over.

2)  Roll down your window, turn off your car, place the keys on the dashboard, and have your driver’s license ready to hand to the Officer.   Obviously, if a police officer pulls you over he/she is going to want to speak with you.  It’s always a good idea to go ahead and roll your window down as soon as possible.  You wouldn’t want the officer to think that you’re having difficulty with the simple task of rolling your window down.  So go ahead and do that first.

Placing your keys on the dashboard will put the officer at ease that you’re not going to take off.  A calm Officer can sometimes be the difference in going to jail and going home.

In addition, the Officers are trained to see if you have difficulty locating your driver’s license.  To many officers, the fact that you are nervous and may not be able to find your license right away is not normal and instead is an indication you’re drunk.  So go ahead and eliminate that assumption immediately.

3)   Let the Officer speak first.   The Officer is trained to get you to admit to the crime he/she thinks you’ve committed.  So a common question an Officer will ask is: “do you know why I pulled you over?”   A lot of people will say: “Yes, I was (insert traffic offense).”   If the Officer is recording your conversation, then there is a strong possibility that statement will be used against in court.  So go ahead and answer the question with an affirmative “no.”   It’s the Officers burden to prove you guilty of the alleged offense and not your burden to proof yourself innocent.

4)  BE POLITE!  This is the key to any interaction with a police officer.  If you are a jerk to the Officer the chances of you getting a ticket and/or getting arrested go up significantly.   Sometimes a police officer can say things that are rude or inconsiderate.   Take the high road.   Remember, on the road he feels like he is in charge and has the ability to really mess up your day.  You’ll have the final say if the case goes to court.  So don’t make it easier for the Officer.  Just be polite and your behavior won’t be used against you at a later date.

If you end up with blue lights in your rear view mirror, try some of the tips listed above.       We hope that no one ends up getting ticketed or, even worse, arrested.

Labor Day weekend is a great chance to relax and enjoy time with friends and family.  With so many people on the road, you can almost guarantee that the police will be out in force.  So be careful and have a great weekend.

Police Roadblocks in Georgia

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ROADBLOCKS IN GEORGIA

by W. Scott Smith Esq. 

Roadblocks have become more and more popular among Georgia law enforcement agencies.  In North Georgia, we are seeing Georgia State Patrol roadblocks and Georgia Public Safety roadblocks for DUI more than ever before.

Here is what you need to know: The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution imposes limits on search-and-seizure powers in order to prevent arbitrary and oppressive interference by Georgia police officials with the privacy and personal security of individuals. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. As its text indicates, the ultimate touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is ‘reasonableness.’ When a driver brings his vehicle to a stop as a result of a request or show of authority by a law enforcement officer, the officer effectively seizes the vehicle and everyone in the vehicle, the driver and all passengers. Such a seizure ordinarily is unreasonable, and hence unconstitutional – absent individualized suspicion. The United States Supreme Court has recognized, however, a narrow exception to the individualized suspicion requirement for vehicle stops made pursuant to a plan embodying explicit, neutral limitations on the conduct of individual officers. Under this checkpoint exception, the reasonableness of the initial stop depends not on individualized suspicion that the driver has committed a traffic violation or other wrongdoing, but instead on the balance between the public interest served by the checkpoint program and the right of individuals to personal security free from arbitrary and oppressive interference by Georgia officials.

Aside from general reasonableness, the Fourth Amendment applied to roadblocks also requires that the government follow with two other main requirements:

The first is that a roadblock is only satisfactory where [1] the decision to implement the roadblock was made by supervisory personnel rather than the officers in the field; [2] all vehicles are stopped as opposed to random vehicle stops; [3] the delay to motorists is minimal; [4] the roadblock operation is well identified as a police checkpoint; and [5] the screening officer’s training and experience is sufficient to qualify him to make an initial determination as to which motorists should be given field tests for intoxication.

The second requirement is that a roadblock program must a have a principle purpose other than the general interest in crime control. The Georgia Supreme Court stated late last year in its landmark roadblock decision Brown v. State that this requirement poses the question as to why an agency utilizes a roadblock.  If the primary purpose of the checkpoint program is crime-fighting in general then the checkpoints implemented under that program are unconstitutional, even if the decision to implement them was made well in advance by the official with the most policymaking authority in the agency.  The Court stated it is at the “programmatic level” that the “primary purpose” inquiry must focus, with the goal of ensuring that the agency has not authorized roadblocks primarily for the general crime control but rather for an “appropriate limited purpose” like traffic safety. Thus, the question is whether the police checkpoint at issue implement pursuant to a checkpoint program that had when viewed at the programmatic level, an appropriate primary purpose other than general crime control.

Based on this recent case law, when we challenge your initial stop at a roadblock by way of a motion to suppress, the State bears the burden of proving that the seizure was constitutional. This requires the State to prove that the stop was reasonable under the totality of the circumstances. At a minimum, the State must show that the law enforcement agency’s checkpoint program had an appropriate primary purpose other than ordinary crime control-a purpose examined at the programmatic level, rather than by trying to determine the motives of the supervisor who implemented and the officers who coordinated the particular roadblock at issue. Further, the State bears the burden of proving that the five (5) requirements in step one were met.  The written policy in Brown stated that the primary purpose of a roadblock was namely “to monitor and check driver’s licenses, driver condition, vehicle registrations, vehicle equipment, and various other requirements of the Georgia State Motor Vehicle and Traffic Code.” Further, the policy also expressly forbids the use of roadblocks as a pretext for general crime detection.  The Court upheld the policy as satisfying the second requirement.

It is our opinion at our criminal defense law firm that every roadblock needs to be closely scrutinized for illegal seizure.  Proper scrutiny requires an examination of a policy purpose of the checkpoint at the programmatic level. The Georgia law enforcement policy must sufficiently limit the agency performing the roadblock, whether it be Georgia State Patrol or others, so that the primary purpose of a roadblock could not be for general crime detection.

DS-1205 / ALS: This Sheet of Paper is Nice, but I Want My License Back, Man!

by Ryan Walsh

 

So you’ve received notice from the Office of State Administrative Hearings that your case has been assigned to a Judge and is scheduled for a hearing date. That’s great. What’s next? As mentioned in our blog on DS-1205 forms, the administrative license suspension hearing relates directly to your choice to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine after being arrested for DUI and read Georgia’s Implied Consent Law.

 

Background

There are four potential outcomes after an officer requests a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine:

  1.  The officer does not submit a petition to suspend your license. If this happens, you will receive a refund of your $150 administrative hearing fee after the time period for the officer’s submission expires.
  2. You refuse to give a sample of your blood, breath, or urine.
  3. You give a sample of your blood, breath, or urine and it’s under the legal limit. That legal limit is .08 for anyone 21 or older, and .02 if you are under 21.
  4. You give a sample of your blood, breath, or urine and it’s over the legal limits, .08 and .02 respectively.

The majority of Administrative License Suspension (ALS) hearings are focused on outcomes B and D, refusal or a breath test over the legal limit.

 

The first thing I want to know after I know whether it was a breath test or refusal case is whether you have prior DUI history. I need to know if you’ve had an administrative suspension for DUI in the past five (5) years, because if you have it’s going to impact our potential options. A second administrative suspension in five years triggers a three year suspension, 120 days of which are a hard suspension with no work permit involved. And a third administrative suspension in five years automatically triggers a 2 year suspension, no work permit. The work permit is only eligible if you are over 21 AND submit a sample for the state test. If you refuse to take the test, that suspension is a hard one year suspension that can only be overcome with a “win” in your case (dismissal, nolle prosequi, reduction of the charge of dui, or not guilty verdict). I need you to remember what happened in your prior case, and I’m going to need that information to best advise you on how to proceed.

 

After I understand your criminal history, I need to know your priorities. Is your #1 priority beating the DUI? Is it protecting your license? Sometimes these two priorities conflict, and an in-depth understanding of your priorities is again necessary to provide the best advice possible.

 

Hearing Day

So you’ve made it to hearing day. We’ve talked about your DUI history and your priorities. We’ve talked if you want to be present at the hearing. And we’ve talked about the ways this can play out. But in case we haven’t talked, this is what can happen on an ALS hearing date:

  1. Your attorney or the officer does not show up on time for the hearing. If your attorney does not show up, you are in default, and the license suspension is affirmed. Your license is suspended for one year. As your attorney, we do not miss administrative hearings. If you submitted a chemical test, you may be eligible for a work permit or reinstatement depending on your age and DUI history. If you refused a chemical test, your license is suspended for one year, no permits. If the officer does not show up, and has not filed a valid conflict, your suspension will be rescinded, and you will be eligible to have your license reprinted.
  2. Your officer does show up, and we have a chance to informally speak with them about you, about your case, about your unique circumstances. This is generally our first chance to speak with your arresting officer, and we can potentially save your license without having an administrative hearing. Again, a clear understanding of your priorities is important in determining the best course of action in the administrative phase.
  3. Finally, if we can’t work the case out with the officer, we will have the administrative hearing. An administrative hearing on a DUI arrest is a civil hearing that covers the following:
    1. Did the officer have reasonable suspicion to stop you?
    2. Did the officer have probable cause to arrest your for DUI?
    3. Did the officer read the appropriate Georgia Implied Consent notice in the correct way and in a timely manner?
    4. If you consented to a state administered chemical test, was that test administered properly?

That’s it. Just those four areas. After the hearing, the judge will issue their decision based on those four aspects of the DUI arrest.

 

We at the law offices or W. Scott Smith, P.C. are all well trained in the administrative hearing process. We’ve all experienced each and every possible outcomes of the administrative hearing, including the hearing victory. Contact us today at 404-581-0999 or visit http://www.peachstatelawyer.com if you’d like more information.