Aggressive Driving Attorneys in Georgia

by Mary Agramonte

Georgia uses a point system to categorize different types of traffic tickets. Traffic offenses range from 1 point all the way up to 6 points. 6 point offenses are considered the most serious, have the harshest penalties, and are the most likely to land you in jail facing high fines and even a suspended license.

Georgia treats the offense of Aggressive Driving as a 6 point offense, meaning it is considered a very serious offense in Georgia courts. Under Georgia law, a person commits the offense of Aggressive Driving when he or she operates any motor vehicle with the intent to annoy, harass, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person. For example, if you are overtaking and passing someone with that intent, then you can be charged with Aggressive Driving. Similarly, if you are “tailgating” someone by following them very closely, then you can be charged with Aggressive Driving. In Georgia, you can be cited or arrested for Aggressive Driving if an officer observes you commit an act of road rage or if someone on the road calls 911 to report it.

Aggressive Driving has harsh penalties, and because of that you need the best Aggressive Driving Attorneys in Atlanta on your side fighting for you and your freedom. Aggressive Driving is considered a High and Aggravated Misdemeanor. This means that the maximum penalty can be a $5,000 fine (which ends up being much higher with the additional court costs and fees), and can land you in jail for up to 12 months. This is all in addition to the 6 points it will add to your driver’s license , which is then reported to your car insurance company, which can result in significantly higher premiums.

If you are under 21, an Aggressive Driving conviction will automatically suspend your license. Even if you are over 21 years old, the Aggressive Driving charge can still suspend your license depending on how many other tickets you have had in the past two years. Additionally, if you are arrested on scene for Aggressive Driving, then this will appear on your criminal history forever, unless the case is won with the help of knowledgeable Atlanta criminal defense attorneys.

Get the legal help you need. There are defenses available to those charged with Aggressive Driving in Georgia, but you need experienced criminal defense attorneys on your side to protect your freedom, your wallet, and your future. Call us today for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

City of Atlanta Municipal Court Practices and Procedure

by Ryan Walsh

We get questions every day about how the Atlanta Municipal Court operates on a day to day basis. The Atlanta Municipal Court is the busiest courthouse in the southeast, and it is easy to get overwhelmed in the process. It is located at 150 Garnett Street, Atlanta, GA 30303 on the corner of Pryor Street and Garnett Street in downtown Atlanta. The courthouse is open from 7am – 5pm Monday through Friday (excluding city holidays).

The most important thing you can do to prepare for court at the Atlanta Municipal Court is to verify your court date and time. You can do this in three ways.

Two of those methods are done through online searches:

  • Go to Find My Court Case at the Atlanta Municipal Court’s website and put in your full name or citation number: http://court.atlantaga.gov/mycase/
  • You can search daily dockets for the current month of cases through the Atlanta Courtview system: http://courtview.atlantaga.gov/courtcalendars/default.aspx?Calendar=D Click on the date of your scheduled appearance and scroll through the court dates until you find your name. It should also tell you the time of your appearance and courtroom you are assigned.
  • Finally, you can call the Atlanta Municipal Court clerk’s office at 404-954-7914.

There are 10 Judges assigned to courtrooms in the Atlanta Municipal Court. Those Judges assigned by courtroom are:

3A – Judge Ward, 3B – Judge Gaines , 5A – Judge Portis, 5B – Judge Butler, 5C – Judge Sloan, 5D – Judge Dupre, 6A – Judge Bey, 6B – Judge Gundy, 6C – Judge Graves, and 6D – Judge Jackson

Judge Ward currently handles clients who have previously failed to appear in court. Judge Sloan only handles clients who are charged with Driving under the Influence (DUI). Judge Portis only handles code violations, which are generally residential, business, and noise ordinances. The other Judges handle a combination of state law offenses (traffic and some misdemeanors) and city ordinances.

Court is held at four times each day. Court times are 8:00am, 10:00am, 1:00pm, and 3:00pm. Depending which Judge you are assigned to will determine the time you need to appear in court each day.

Some charges in the City of Atlanta are eligible for the Pre-Trial Intervention program. Completion of the Pre-Trial Intervention program assures your case will be dismissed and your record will be restricted. Our office of experienced attorneys can guide you through the Pre-Trial Intervention program and determine whether we believe your charges will be eligible.

Clients often come to our office after failing to appear in court. Once you fail to appear in court in the Atlanta Municipal Court, your case is taken off the calendar and a bench warrant is issued for your arrest. If you do not address your failure to appear in twenty-one (21) days, the Atlanta Municipal Court sends information to the Georgia Department of Driver Services to suspend your Georgia driver’s license or your privilege to drive in the State of Georgia. At that point your case must be resolved in order to receive documentation to re-instate your driver’s license.

In order to get a court date after you fail to appear in court, you must show up between 7 and 8am at the City of Atlanta Courthouse. You will go downstairs to courtroom 1B where they will add your case to the failure to appear courtroom that day. That courtroom is courtroom 3A. You will then have the option to resolve your case through a plea, or ask for a trial. No matter what happens, you will receive paperwork that recalls the active bench warrant. After your case is resolved you will receive the paperwork to reinstate your driver’s license with the Department of Driver Services to lift any current suspension due to failing to appear.

The Atlanta Municipal Court is the busiest courthouse in the Southeast, handling more cases daily than any other courthouse. Navigating the court process can be difficult. Our firm handles charges in Atlanta every day. We are here to answer your questions and help you. Call us today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

VIDEO – Atlanta, Georgia Theft by Shoplifting Charges – Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Kennesaw

I’ve received theft by shoplifting charges in Georgia, but my court notice says Dunwoody Municipal Court, what’s happening here?

Hello, I’m attorney Scott Smith and I’m here today to talk with you about shoplifting charges. We see a lot of theft by shoplifting arrests in metro Atlanta due to the number of shopping malls in the area. Lenox Mall, Phipps, Atlantic Station, Perimeter Mall, North Point Mall, Town Center, and all the other malls in the Atlanta area.

We also see a lot of shoplifting charges coming from stores like Walmart, Marshall’s, and TJ Maxx.

Many of these cases will originate in municipal courts like Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, and Kennesaw.

A theft by shoplifting charge in Georgia can be accused as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on: the amount alleged to have been taken, the number of shoplifting convictions showing on your criminal history, and whether there was a pattern of recent shoplifting activity.

Shoplifting cases generally have two components. The first part is the criminal case. But often folks arrested for theft by shoplifting will receive a letter in the mail from law firms or collection agencies on behalf of the store asking for a payment for a civil penalty. We urge anyone watching this to consult with a Georgia attorney before making any payment to a law firm or collection agency due to this shoplifting charge. It could have an impact on your case.

It is important to state people who shoplift are not bad people. Generally the case comes down to one of three things. The person charged is sometimes depressed. It was an honest mistake such as an accidental concealment or not actually taking the item. Or finally the person thought they needed the item to survive or they were taking it for thrills. Ninety percent of the people we represent fall within the first two categories, depression or an honest mistake.

There are many was to resolve your theft by shoplifting charges in Georgia. Our office of experienced Georgia shoplifting attorneys can evaluate your case and tell you about potential defenses and outcomes. Let us help you today. Call our office at 404-581-0999. Thank you.

Georgia Super Speeder Law

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Mary Agramonte, Attorney at Law, handles criminal cases, including traffic tickets, all over Georgia.

What is the Super Speeder Law?
By: Mary Agramonte, Esq.

In 2010, Georgia enacted a law which imposes greater penalties on drivers convicted as “super speeders.” If you have been pulled over driving 85 miles per hour or more on any road, or 75 miles per hour or more on a two-lane road, then Georgia law at O.C.G.A. § 40-6-189 requires a separate $200 Super Speeder fine to be added onto your speeding ticket. The $200 fine is in addition to all fines you will owe to the local city or county for the same ticket. While the underlying fine varies across the state depending on the city or county you were ticketed, the initial total fine can be as high as $1,000. If you are pulled over and are considered a super speeder and choose to pay the fine for the citation, thereby accepting guilt, you will receive another fine within 30 days, this time in a letter from the Department of Driver Services.

Upon receipt of the super speeder letter from DDS, you only have 90 days to pay the new fine. Ignoring this letter will suspend your license, and you will incur another $50.00 when you attempt to reinstate your license.

There are several consequences of paying the fine on your speeding ticket if the actual speed puts you within the parameters of the super speeder law. First, the underlying speeding offense is considered a criminal misdemeanor. Furthermore, the speeding ticket itself will carry points that are reported on your driving history report. Paying the fine on your ticket is the equivalent of pleading guilty. If you choose to simply pay the initial fine, as opposed to hiring a lawyer to fight the case, 2 to 6 points will be added to your driving record. Points on your record may increase your insurance, and even will suspend your license once you reach a certain amount of points in a two year period. After you pay the fine on your speeding ticket, you will then be wholly responsible to pay the $200 fine that you will receive in the mail from DDS.

Avoid the super speeder fine and the separate fines and points that go along with your speeding ticket. Remember that paying your ticket is an admission of guilt and you will then be responsible for all the speeding ticket fees as well as the extra $200 super speeder fine. Hire a lawyer that is familiar with the courts in Georgia. Avoid the hassle of going to court, and have experienced lawyers fight your case to avoid the harsh consequences of being classified as a Super Speeder. Call us 24/7 at 404-581-0999 for a FREE CONSULTATION.

What to Do at the Jail After a DUI Arrest

By: W. Scott Smith

The scenario every wife, husband, father, mother or friend fears receiving:  A call from a Georgia jail, and someone has been arrested for DUI:

“Its me.  I need your help.  I got arrested last night.  I am at the Fulton county jail/ Cobb county jail/ DeKalb county jail/ Gwinnett County jail.  I am being charged with DUI.  Can you please come bail me out?”

Scott Smith - Atlanta's Top DUI Attorney

W. Scott Smith is the founding partner of the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith.

This phone call can be one of the most important moments in your loved one’s DUI defense down the road.  Although not a secret, this information may assist your friend or family member in winning their DUI case at trial or negotiating a reduction to Reckless Driving.  If you are on Google and Googling this while you are on the phone with a friend charged with DUI in Georgia, it is extremely important to relay this information to the DUI friend or family member while in jail:

If the person in jail refused to take the DUI breath test at the jail.  Tell them to find the nearest jailer and rescind their refusal.  Meaning tell the jailer nearest them they now have changed their mind and want to take the Georgia breath test: “I am charged tonight with DUI.  The officer asked me to perform the breath test.  I initially declined.  I want to take it now.  Can you please help me in taking it?”  Make sure to remember the name of the person who they ask.

If the person in jail took the DUI breath test at the jail.  Tell them to find the nearest jailer and ask for an independent blood and breath test: “I am charged tonight with DUI.  The officer asked me to perform the breath test on the Intoxilyzer.  I took it.  I now want to take a an independent test of blood at the nearest hospital, a breath on a different machine than the one I breathed into, a urine at a hospital, or another bodily substance test.  Can you please help me in taking it?”  Make sure to remember the name of the person who they ask.

Here is the reason you want to advise your loved one charged with DUI in Fulton, Cobb, DeKalb, Atlanta or Gwinnett to request the test from the jailer.  Georgia courts have repeatedly rejected the argument that once a DUI suspect indicates to an officer that he refuses to submit to a blood-alcohol test, the matter is closed.  Georgia law recognizes the possibility that an individual may rescind his or her refusal to submit to an Intoxilyzer test, the police administered breath test down at the jail or the police department.  The machine is always on and almost always available to use.  Similarly, Georgia law allows a person in Georgia suspected of being DUI to request an independent test of their own choice.

In order for the consent to be proper after first refusing the police administered test, it must be made:

(1) within a very short and reasonable time after the first refusal;

(2) at a time when the test administered would still be accurate;

(3) when testing equipment is still readily available;

(4) when honoring the request would result in no substantial inconvenience or expense to the police; and

(5) when the individual requesting the test has been in the custody of the arresting officer and under observation for the whole time since arrest.

If the jailer does not allow you to take the test, then the initial refusal to take the state DUI breath test OR the results from taking the test will be suppressed as long as you can meet the five requirements outlined above.  This nuance in Georgia DUI law even applies to all Georgia Administrative license suspension hearings where the State attempts to suspend your license after being charged with DUI.

In essence, it comes down to timing and knowing your rights while still in custody.  The fifth factor is so important when you are on the phone with someone in jail or adult detention centers (all county jails in the state of Georgia including Gwinnett, DeKalb, Cobb, Fulton and Atlanta). Remember to tell them to ask a jailer near them to please allow them to take the test; or, if they already took the test, to ask the jailer to supply them with an independent blood test at the nearest hospital.

As we have always stressed to clients, the first thing one should do when booking out of jail after being bonded out for a DUI arrest in Georgia is write everything down. This includes a detailed description of the events leading up to the DUI.  The DUI arrest itself.  And if you followed my suggestion outlined above, the name of the jailer he or she requested to take the test (either initial breath or independent blood test). The name of the jailer is incredibly important because if you selected us as your lawyer we would want to send them a friendly reminder to memorialize the occurrence and we would want to subpoena them to court.

I hope this information is useful if you are now on the phone with someone charged.  Remember, our phone lines are on 24/7 to assist with DUI defense as it is happening.  Please call us at 404-581-0999.

 

Understanding a DUI Citation

What are these other DUI charges on my DUI Citation or Court Notice?

By: Ryan Walsh, Esq. 

I see it every time. Georgia State Patrol troopers arrest a prospective client of ours in the City of Atlanta for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcoh

Ryan Walsh is an Associate Attorney at the Law Office of W. Scott Smith

Ryan Walsh is an Associate Attorney at the Law Office of W. Scott Smith

ol and their DUI citation reads “in violation of Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) §40-6-391(a)(1-5). Our prospective client then receives a court notice from the Municipal Court of Atlanta after their first court appearance that lists each of the separate DUI code sections from (a)(1) through (a)(5). They appear as follows:

O.C.G.A. §40-6-391(a)(1) – DUI Alcohol Less Safe

O.C.G.A. §40-6-391(a)(2) – DUI Drugs

O.C.G.A. §40-6-391(a)(3) – DUI Multiple Substances

O.C.G.A. §40-6-391(a)(4) – DUI Inhalants

O.C.G.A. §40-6-391(a)(5) – DUI Alcohol Per Se (Test over .08)

Only O.C.G.A. code sections 40-6-391(a)(1) and 40-6-391 (a)(5) relate solely to alcohol involved DUI arrests. The other three code sections relate to DUIs involving non-alcohol related substances, or a combination of drugs and alcohol. So why are you charged with these other offenses when they played no part in your arrest? The answer is: the Georgia State Patrol Nighthawks division, also known as the State Patrol DUI Task Force writes a citation for DUI the same way every time they make an Atlanta DUI arrest. Their citation includes each and every DUI code section.

But a citation is just a charging document. A charging document (like a citation, or more formally an accusation or indictment) presents charges the solicitor can move forward on. The solicitor then looks at the evidence and decides what charges best fit each individual situation. In the majority of all DUI cases, these are just the alcohol related code sections. In other DUI cases it may just be a Drugs case. Very rarely do we see DUI multiple substances or DUI inhalants cases.

Because you may have been overcharged in your case by a Georgia State Patrol Trooper, it is important to consult with an experienced Georgia DUI attorney. The attorneys at W. Scott Smith PC are knowledgeable in each and every subsection of the DUI code, and effectively advise you on the strengths of your case. Call us today at 404-581-0999.

Miranda Rights

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.

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?

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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.

GEORGIA LEGISLATURE CHANGES MUGSHOT LAWS

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.