Traffic Tickets while Traveling through Atlanta, Georgia

by Ryan Walsh

We receive calls every day from people who receive traffic tickets while driving on the highways of Georgia. Due to traffic, congestion, construction, and rural police departments, out of state residents are targeted and ticketed every day.

These local courts think they can make money off of you since you live out of state. They think you will just pay the fine and move along. Sometimes the officer will even tell you that it is a non-points violation and can just be paid online when that isn’t actually the case.

Georgia is a points state, meaning every conviction for a moving violation involves points that may be added to your out of state license. Also, the conviction may be reported on your driving history and affect insurance rates.

Traffic tickets in Georgia involve more than just a payment of a fine. It is important to understand the risk of just paying the citation on your driving history. It may cost you a lot more than just the fine amount.

Common traffic tickets we see involving out of state drivers include move-over violations, super speeder tickets, hands-free device citations, and accident cases.

I work every day in the traffic courts around Georgia and can give you the best advice on how to approach your citation. Call us today at 404-581-0999 and ask for Ryan Walsh or e-mail me anytime at ryan@peachstatelawyer.com.

Do I Need an Attorney for Traffic Court?

The answer to that question is, it depends. In Georgia, all traffic citations, whether you were arrested or not, are misdemeanors and carry a punishment of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. That being said, most traffic offenses will not involve jail time or show up on a background check or criminal history.

How Can an Attorney Help?

In my experience, attorneys can help you in traffic court in Atlanta in a few ways. One, attorney cases are often handled at the beginning of the calendar, allowing you to get in and out of court quickly, and on your way to the rest of your day. Two, attorneys have relationships with the prosecutors in court and can often negotiate a better resolution than you might be able to on your own. Three, some citations in Georgia, such as No Insurance, or Driving with a Suspended License or Registration carry with them additional license suspensions or mandatory jail time. If you enter a plea of guilty to those offenses without understanding the potential punishments, you may impact your freedom or your ability to drive. Finally, an attorney may offer defenses to the charge that can get your traffic citation dismissed completely.

This advice is especially true for Smyrna Municipal Court, Cobb County State Court, the Municipal Court of Atlanta, Gwinnett County Recorders Court, and DeKalb County State Court – Traffic Division.

These are just a few of the reasons it is beneficial to talk to an attorney before going to traffic court. Our free consultation will give you valuable information to  help you decide whether you need an attorney in traffic court. Call us today at 404-581-0999.

by Ryan Walsh

Police Roadblocks

Even the most seasoned motorists may never encounter a police sobriety roadblock or checkpoint during their entire driving history. Nonetheless, you should be armed with information regarding their validity and how to best approach them if you happen to drive towards one.

What is a Roadblock?

            In addition to the above factors,those arrested should urge their attorneys to be aware of local requirements regarding roadblocks, and subpoena all relevant records; although the road block may satisfy federal and state guidelines, it may fail the local arresting agency’s own policies.

            In determining the validity of a police roadblock, our courts analyze the following factors[1]:

  1. The roadblock was implemented pursuant to a checkpoint program that has, when viewed at the programmatic level, an appropriate primary purpose other than general crime control;
  2. The decision to implement the specific roadblock in question was made by a supervisor in advance, and not by an officer in the field;
  3. All vehicles that passed through the roadblock were stopped, rather than random vehicle stops;
  4. The delay to motorists was minimal;
  5. The roadblock was well-identified as a possible police checkpoint;
  6. The screening officers staffing the roadblock possessed sufficient training and experience to qualify them to make an initial determination as to which motorists should be subjected to field sobriety testing; and
  7. Under the totality of the circumstances, the stop of the defendant was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

What Should I Do?

            Now that we have seen what constitutes a valid police sobriety roadblock in theory, it is time to put the roadblock scenario into practice. If I see a roadblock coming what do I do? Am I allowed to evade it? The answer is . . . it depends. Drivers who violate a traffic law in order to avoid a police roadblock may be pulled over,arrested for said violation, and may be subject to further investigation by the police. However, drivers are entitled to take legal actions to avoid a roadblock, and police may not stop a driver from doing so, as long as the driver does not commit any traffic violations or other offenses while doing so.

An Example of a Roadblock

            For example, you are driving down a one lane road and you see a valid police roadblock ahead. However, the entrance to your apartment building happens to be 200 feet before the roadblock commences. You execute a legal turn into your apartment complex. A police officer at the roadblock sees you turn into the complex, follows your vehicle,and stops your vehicle. The officer’s hunch that you were avoiding the roadblock because you were intoxicated is, by itself, an insufficient basis to stop your vehicle.[2] As a result, most roadblocks are conducted on remote single lane roads so that an individual would necessarily have to break a traffic law in order to avoid them.

Call Us Today

             If you have 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.

by Casey Cleaver


[1] Brown v. State, 293 Ga. 787 (2013); Williams v. State, 293 Ga. 883 (2013); Baker v. State, 252 Ga. App. 695 (2001); LaFontaine v. State, 269 Ga. 251 (1998); Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32 (2000).

[2] Jorgensen v. State, 207 Ga. App. 545 (1993).

Georgia’s New Distracted Driving Law for Georgia Drivers

by Mary Agramonte

 

As you have probably heard, Georgia’s new law on Distracted Driving will become effective on July 1, 2018. Georgia’s legislature has made the use of a cell phone will driving illegal in response to an alarming rise of traffic fatalities and serious injuries from car accidents.

The new law will prohibit Georgia drivers from the following:

  • Holding a cell phone at all
  • Texting, reading/ sending emails, using internet
  • Watching or recording videos

The following use of electronic devices will still be allowed even under the new law:

  • Speaking/texting with voice based communication
  • Using an earpiece or Bluetooth to talk on the phone
  • Using a navigation or GPS app

The punishment under this new law will be fines, fees, and points. Specifically, for a first conviction in 24 months, you will face a fine of $50.00 which will not include any surcharges and taxes. A second conviction will increase to $100.00 plus court costs and surcharges.

While the cost is fairly slight for a traffic offense, there will be other repercussions of the law. If an officer sees you on the phone, he now has the ability to pull your vehicle over which in some cases could lead to more serious charges. For example, an officer who has lawfully pulled you over for using your phone can then observe an odor of alcohol coming from your vehicle which can then lead to a DUI arrest.

Overall, this bill is being enacted to save lives as talking and texting on a cell phone while driving places other drivers and pedestrians at risk. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, Georgia will now join the other 47 states that have already enacted laws prohibited texting and driving.

Atlanta Hit and Run Attorneys

by Mary Agramonte

Whenever you are in a car accident involving either property damage or personal injury, Georgia law provides that a driver is required to do the following things:

  • Give your name, address, and registration of the vehicle
  • Upon request, provide a driver’s license
  • Render reasonable aid to injured parties – such as transporting or making arrangements to transport a person to medical treatment if its apparent medical treatment is needed
  • Where person is unconscious, appears deceased, or is otherwise unable to communicate, you must make reasonable effort to ensure emergency medical service and police are contacted.

Under Georgia law, a driver involved in an accident must remain on scene until all four requirements are met. If a driver neglects one or more of the requirements, they can later be arrested and charged with the crime of Hit and Run.

Hit and Run under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270 is one of the most serious traffic crimes to face. The Department of Driver Services classifies it as a “Major” violation which is in the same category of DUI, Vehicular Homicide, and Fleeing. Hit and Run can not only land you with probation and high fines, it will suspend your license, and can result in you facing jail time.

There are defenses to Hit and Run and ways to negotiate the case to significantly less serious offenses that will not result in jail or a suspended license. With experienced Georgia Hit and Run attorneys on your side, you can fight the case and keep your freedom and driving privileges. If you or someone you know has been involved in a Hit and Run, it is important to retain Hit and Run attorneys quickly. In some cases, an accomplished Hit and Run attorney can be proactive in negotiating lesser charges even before a surrender process. Call us today at 404-581-0999 for a FREE CONSULTATION with one of our knowledgeable Georgia Hit and Run attorneys.