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.


Avondale Estates DUI Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been charged with an Avondale Estates DUI, contact our firm to speak with experienced DUI attorneys on how to best defend your case. Experienced Avondale Estates 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 Avondale Estates attorneys. W. Scott Smith has 18 years of DUI law 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. The associates of W. Scott Smith, are  Avondale Estates DUI lawyers and have each successfully completed multiple advanced DUI seminars.

The address of Avondale Estates Court is 21 N. Avondale Road in Avondale Estates, Georgia. It is located in City Hall in Avondale Estates. This court handles all cases where defendants are charged with traffic misdemeanors and local ordinances within the City of Avondale Estates. Avondale Estates has its own police department, and so if you are arrested for a DUI in Avondale Estates by an Avondale Estates Police Officer, your case will begin in the Municipal Court.

If you have been arrested with a DUI in Avondale Estates, our lawyers are ready to fight to avoid a DUI conviction. We are a group of knowledgeable attorneys prepared to defend against your Avondale Estates DUI in order to best protect your freedom and your license. We are available 24/7 to speak with you about your Avondale Estates DUI at 404-581-0999.

Miranda Rights


By Andrew Powell Esq.

Almost everyone has seen a crime television show and heard the infamous phrase “you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law, you have the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford one an attorney would be appointed to you.” However, most people do not know when or why this phrase is so commonly used by police. In 1966, the United States Supreme Court decided to require law enforcement officials to read this list of rights to someone who has been taken into custody. These rights are known commonly as your “Miranda Rights.”

Purpose Of Reading The Miranda Rights

The United States Constitution and specifically the Fifth Amendment guarantees anyone who has been arrested the right not to incriminate themselves. Plainly put, an individual does not have to talk to police when they have been arrested. The Constitution and our form of justice requires that the government carry their burden and prove to a judge or jury that someone charged with a crime is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.georgia-juvenile-defense

Too often law enforcement officials become overzealous with their search for the truth and overstep the Constitutional bounds in their pursuit. It may not surprise you that police use coercive tactics or even lie to someone to get them to confess to a crime. Miranda warnings are a safeguard to protect against those who may cross that Constitutional boundary. The government must show the court that you were read your Miranda rights and that you waived your rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

When Does Miranda Apply To Me?

Confessions are the leading source of Miranda violations. When someone has been accused of a crime, big or small, they are often questioned in connection with that crime. Miranda rights must be read to someone after they are under arrest and before any law enforcement official asks any questions to the suspect.  Law enforcement officials have a tough job and they investigate crimes every day. Many officers are trying to make quick decisions based on little information. However, this does not allow them to just simply force people to talk to them and answer their questions.

Many times law enforcement officials will arrest someone and take them back to the police station for an interview. Generally, they will quickly go over your rights with you and ask you if you want to talk to them. If you have been charged with a crime this is where you want to stop and tell the law enforcement official that you would like to speak to your attorney.

When Does Miranda Not Apply To Me?

People sometimes think that any encounter with law enforcement requires them to read you your Miranda rights. This is untrue. Most encounters between people and law enforcement do not require the reading of your Miranda rights. As discussed above, the Miranda warnings are only required when you have been placed under arrest and the police are asking you questions regarding the crime.

Traffic stops are a common place to have an encounter with law enforcement where Miranda warnings are not required to be read to someone. In this circumstance, generally you are not under arrest and law enforcement is just going to ask you some general questions and write you a ticket.

In terms of a DUI, the police officer is not required to read the Miranda warnings. The officer may ask you to take a series of tests, known as Field Sobriety Tests or request you to blow into a machine that registers your blood alcohol content. Even though the officer does not have to read your Miranda rights to you, you have the ability to refuse these tests and refuse giving a breath sample.

Another common scenario is when law enforcement asks you to come to the station and make a statement. In this circumstance, Miranda warnings are not necessary because you have voluntarily come to the police station and are not under arrest. Remember, law enforcement is only required to give you the Miranda warnings once you have been arrested and before they initiate any questioning of you.

What Does A Miranda Violation Mean For Me?

Confessions or statements made to law enforcement will not be allowed at trial if law enforcement has not, first, read you the warnings required in Miranda. If you were forced into making a statement or the police did not read your rights to you and you then confess to a crime, whether it is a DUI or murder, that confession cannot be used against you at your trial. With your statement or confession tossed out it can help strengthen your case and possibly force the prosecutor’s office to drop the charges because they do not have enough evidence to prosecute you.

If you have been charged with crime and feel your rights were violated during the process, call our office and we can help you navigate the system. Our office has extensive experience in misdemeanors and felonies. Fighting charges with an attorney’s help is important because any conviction on your record will greatly reduce the possibility of having future charges lowered or dismissed. At the W. Scott Smith law firm we can identify where the police have violated your rights and ensure evidence will be kept out. Our firm can handle your misdemeanor or felony case with the expertise you need to save your record. Give us a call for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.



Every year, thousands of Georgians celebrate the dawning of a New Year by enjoying the several New Year’s parties around town.  As we all know, those parties often include music, food, and alcohol.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, New Year’s Day is the second most deadly day for drivers with an average of 140 deaths related to alcohol.  Because of this, law enforcement agencies throughout the State set up DUI checkpoints to prevent drunk drivers from getting into accidents.   We certainly advise that you find a safe ride home on New Year’s Day.  But if you find yourself at a DUI checkpoint, it’s important to know your rights before the Officer mistakes you for a dangerous driver.


DUI checkpoints are often set up in two stages.   The first stage is an initial screening stage.   Here, a DUI trained officer will check for some of the common physical manifestations of a person who is driving under the influence.  Often, we see police reports that include the initial screening officer smelling the odor of alcohol coupled with bloodshot and watery eyes.  The DUI officer is also looking for the driver’s behavior.  Particularly, the DUI Officer is looking to see if the person is being belligerent or combative.

It’s important to remember to always be polite in these situations.  If the DUI Officer becomes agitated with the way you respond to his questions, then you’ll likely find yourself at the DUI checkpoint much longer than you would expect.   The Officer will likely ask you how much you’ve had to drink.  If you’ve only had one beer then it’s ok to let the Officer know that.   In Georgia, it is not illegal to consume alcohol and drive.  However, it is illegal to consume alcohol the extent you become a less safe driver.  So, the fact that you have had one beer does not automatically mean you’ve broken the law.


The DUI Officers are trained to instruct drivers to the second stage of the checkpoint if they feel there is enough evidence to continue a DUI investigation.  The second stage will often include a second DUI Officer who will almost certainly request the driver to perform field sobriety testing.  As we’ve discussed in the past, field sobriety testing is weighed heavily against the driver.  For example, the walk and turn evaluation is one of the three standardized field sobriety tests.  The evaluation includes a series of clues the Officer is trained to look for.  There are seventy-six opportunities for the driver to display a clue.  If the driver shows two of the seventy-six clues then that is enough for the Officer to establish someone are impaired.   More concerning is the initial studies on this examination showed only a 65% accuracy rate in optimal conditions.

Because of the unreliability of field sobriety testing, we always suggest to our client to refuse any field sobriety testing.  The chances of the Officer making a mistake are extremely high and the consequences to the driver can be drastic.   Finally, if the DUI Officer feels there is enough evidence obtained from all of the interactions then he or she will make an arrest.

As I mentioned earlier, the easiest way to avoid a DUI is call a cab or have a sober driver.  Personally, I’ve found the car service Uber to be fantastic.  But, sometimes we find ourselves in difficult circumstances.

If you or a friend ends up getting charged with DUI on New Year’s Day please contact the office immediately at 404-581-0999.   Our lawyers will be on call and available to for a free consultation.



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:


  • 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


  • 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).


–          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

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.


A few months ago  we talked about the legality of having your mugshot posted all over the internet (see: Georgia Mugshot Websites). Recently, the Georgia General Assembly took another hard stance against companies who prey on those who are booked through Georgia jails.  Our legislature made some drastic changes to the Georgia mugshot laws.

Georgia law now requires that law enforcement agencies refrain from posting booking photographs on their jail inmate website.  The General Assembly went on to limit access to any booking photographs by restricting access to those who are (1) not using the photo for purposes for written publication or website publication; and (2) the person trying to obtain the photograph is not asking for removal or deletion of the booking photograph in exchange for money.  Law Enforcement agencies now can only release photographs to individuals who sign a statement affirming that the use of the photograph will NOT be for purposes of mugshot websites.

The General Assembly obviously recognized there was a serious problem with websites extorting those who have been booked through the criminal process.  Already, the Cobb County Sheriff’s Department has taken steps to remove all photographs from their jail website in accordance with the new law. Hopefully, these steps will put an end to for profit mugshot websites.

Please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 if you have been arrested in Georgia and you need help getting your mugshot removed.

Police 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.

How do I get a bond?

If you or a loved one has recently been arrested, the first thing on your mind is getting out of jail.  Unfortunately, the process of bonding out is more complicated than expected.  So, what do you need to know to get out of jail as quickly as possible?

1)      Will I get a bond?  If so, when?

In Georgia, the rules are organized according to whether the arrest offense is a felony or a misdemeanor.  If it is a misdemeanor, then you are entitled to a bond by law.  If the charge is a felony, then it is in the judge’s discretion whether to grant bail.  There are certain serious offenses for which only a superior court judge can grant bail.  In that case, the superior court will be notified of your arrest within 48 hours.  The superior court is then required to set a bond hearing within 30 days after receiving the notice.  However, if you file a petition for a bond, then the hearing must be held within 10 days after receiving the petition.

2)      What does the court consider when determining whether to grant bond and when determining high the bond should be? 

Judges consider four factors when determining whether to grant bond, and when determining how much the bond should be: (1) Are you a risk to run away and not come back to court?; (2) Do you pose a threat or danger to people or property in the local community?; (3) Is it likely that you will commit a felony before your case is resolved?; and (4) Are you likely to intimidate witnesses against you?

3)      Once I get a bond, what are my options for covering the amount? 

Cash bond – This requires you to put up the entire bond amount in cash or by money order.  Most people cannot afford the entire amount, and that is where bondsmen come in.  As long as you are able to pay 13-15% of the bond, then a bondsman will put up the money for you and require that you pay a fee.

*The money that you pay to bond out will be refunded at the close of the case as long as it is not forfeited by your failure to appear in court.  The fee to the bonding company will not be refunded. 

Property bond – You may be able to put up real property (house or land) as a way to guarantee your appearance in court.  Generally, you must have enough equity in the home or property to cover the amount of the bond.  In some places, you have to have twice the amount of the bond in equity.  Most bondsmen will still help you bond out of jail, and they may accept more than just real property.  For example, some will allow you to put up the title to your car as a guarantee that you will return to court.  Remember, if you use property to bond out and you fail to appear in court, then you are at risk of losing that property!

If you or a loved one have recently been arrested and want help bonding out, do not hesitate to contact us at 404-581-0999. You can trust that our firm will do everything possible to get you or your loved one out of jail and to make the process as simple and painless as possible.


NOT GUILTY!  Those were the words of a Gwinnett County jury on 9/6/2012.  WSSPC attorney Michael Murphy appeared with a client who was facing some serious jail time if convicted.  When the client initially met with WSSPC he insisted that he was NOT GUILTY and that he was being railroaded by the system.   The police report was a tale of incriminating statements, field sobriety tests, and allegations of extreme intoxication.  In addition, the State proceeded with allegations of loitering and prowling from a witness who stated our client was sitting her driveway and refusing to leave.   The State wanted to put our client in jail for 60 days and indicated that the jail time would increase drastically if we went to trial and lost!   Needless to say, our client maintained his innocence throughout the process and insisted on a trial by jury.


Knowing we had a difficult task ahead of us, WSSPC got to work.   Paralegal Alison Dewitt put her detective hat on and found out that the State’s independent witness had been convicted of a crime of dishonesty.  She also filed several open records requests that revealed that the Officer involved was young and had only been a police officer for eight months!  WSSPC attorney’s Michael Murphy and Mike Jacobs went to the scene of the alleged crime and took several pictures that later proved to be crucial in the jury’s decision to acquit.


On 9/4/2012 attorney Michael Murphy and our client appeared and announce ready for trial.  The trial and legal motions took a total of three days.   The jury took the case on the third day and deliberated for three hours.  In the end, the jury came back NOT GUILTY.  Attorney Murphy was able to speak with one of the jurors after the case.  The juror told attorney Murphy that there was too much doubt and that the only verdict they could render was NOT GUILTY.


Our client walked out of the courthouse a free man having never given up hope and trusting WSSPC to show that he was innocent.


Peach State Lawyers trial victory!

In my first blog post, Peach State Lawyer Daniel Farnsworth wants to be the first to congratulate our co-worker, colleague, and good friend Peach State Lawyer Michael Murphy on his first jury trial victory.  This is the first of many more trial victories to come for Michael.

Here are the details:

Peach State Lawyer Michael Murphy, went to trial this week against an experienced Dekalb County DUI Task Force Officer.   Michael was faced with the challenge of showing the Field Sobriety Tests that the Officer performed did NOT show that his client was impaired.   The Officer exhibited a tremendous amount of knowledge and training with regard to the Field Sobriety Tests while testifying for the State.   The State relied heavily on the three tests that were administered.   Like many DUI Task Force Officers, the Officer was able to articulate the meaning of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the Walk and Turn test, and the One Leg Stand test.   However, on cross-examination, Michael was able to use his own training to show the jury that not only did his client look great on video, but the tests that his client took were designed for him to fail.   The jury deliberated for a total of three minutes before coming back with a NOT GUILTY verdict.