Habitual Violator Conviction and License Suspension in Georgia

Being declared a habitual violator can have very long-term and harmful effects on drivers in Georgia. Habitual violator is a status that occurs when convicted of certain traffic offenses, and it results in an immediate five year license suspension. It is also an offense that goes onto a person’s criminal history and can even lead to felony charges and prison time.

 

Convictions arising from a single incident or separate incidents to any three of the following violations within a 5-year period, as measured from date of arrest will cause the driver to be declared an Habitual Violator in accordance with O.C.G.A. §40-5-58:

 

  • Homicide by Vehicle (1st Degree) as defined by O.C.G.A. §40-6-393 (a) or (b)

 

  • Homicide by Vehicle (2nd Degree) as defined by O.C.G.A. §40-6-393 (c)

 

  • Any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used

 

  • Hit & Run – Leaving the scene of an accident as defined by O.C.G.A. §40-6-270

 

  • Racing on Highways or Streets as defined by O.C.G.A. §40-6-186

 

  • Using a Motor Vehicle in Fleeing or Attempting to Elude an Officer as defined by

O.C.G.A. §40-6-395

 

  • Operating a Motor Vehicle with a Revoked, Canceled, or Suspended Registration as

defined by O.C.G.A. §40-6-15

 

  • DUI and DUI Child Endangerment

 

  • Feticide by Vehicle (1st Degree) as defined by O.C.G.A. §40-6-393.1 (a) (1)

 

  • Serious Injury by Vehicle as defined by O.C.G.A. §40-6-394

 

All three offenses can be from the same incident, or on the other hand, can be still be counted if they occurred within a five-year period. For example, it is possible to become a Habitual Violator if convicted of DUI, Hit and Run, and Child Endangerment in one incident. However, even if you pled nolo contendere to Hit and Run five years ago, and are later charged on different dates for any of the above crimes, this too will trigger Habitual Violator status. In order for due process to be met, the State must comply with specific notice requirements to drivers as it relates to Habitual Violator status.

 

Even if you pled guilty in Court under Georgia’s First Offender Statute to the above offenses, the Department of Driver Services still counts it as a conviction. Likewise, a Nolo Contendere plea is also considered a conviction under this statute and will not save your license.

 

A person who is declared a Habitual Violator immediately undergoes a five-year long driver’s license suspension. There may be a limited permit available after first serving a two-year hard license suspension.

 

Can I get a limited permit after being declared a Habitual Violator?

 

A 3-year limited driving permit may become available after the first two year suspension so long as the person has not been convicted or pled nolo to any moving traffic offense in the two years prior to applying. An approved Defensive Driving course or Risk Reduction course is also required to obtain a probationary license. Additionally, the person applying for a limited permit must submit a sworn affidavit that he or she does not use alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs. In cases involving two or more DUIs, an Ignition Interlock is required to be installed on the vehicle for a period of 12 months. In order to be granted a probationary limited permit after being declared a Habitual Violator, it must be shown that the “refusal to issue such a permit would cause extreme hardship to the driver.”

 

So long as the above conditions are met, and a fee in the amount of $210.00 is paid, the probationary license may be issued by Georgia Department of Driver Services. These probationary limited permits may have restrictions that limit the specific places the licensee is allowed to drive, or the routes and times of travel, as well as the specific vehicle the licensee may operate.

 

What happens if I drive after being declared a Habitual Violator without a permit?

 

            Georgia law makes it a felony offense to drive while being declared a habitual violator. Under O.C.G.A. 40-5-58(c), if convicted of driving after being declared a habitual violator, the punishment is a minimum fine of $750, or 1 to 5 years in prison, or both. In order to be convicted of Felony Habitual Violator, the State must prove the offender was declared a habitual violator, was properly notified of that status, and that he or she operated a vehicle without having obtained a valid license. Georgia law does allow defense of Justification at trial in Habitual Violator cases.

 

            Similarly, if convicted for any of the above offenses, including DUI, after having been declared a habitual violator is a serious felony offense in Georgia that can carry prison sentences of up to five years and a base fine between $1,000 and $5,000 on top of any sentencing from the new crimes.

 

While driving as a Habitual Violator is a felony offense in Georgia, it is a misdemeanor offense to be convicted of any minor traffic offense, after having been given a probationary limited permit. A conviction for a traffic offense while on the probationary limited permit can carry fines and up to 12 months in jail.

 

Being declared a Habitual Violator in Georgia is the most serious of traffic and license issues you can encounter in Georgia. This is why it is important to be represented in all traffic cases as you can unknowingly become a Habitual Violator by paying tickets on any of the above offenses (even a Suspended Registration). The life-long consequences of being declared a Habitual Violator are severe, so make sure to have a Georgia traffic and criminal attorney advocate for you in such traffic cases. If you or a loved one has been arrested for Habitual Violator status, or any of the contributing crimes to Habitual Violator, call us today for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

Racing or Drag Racing Arrests and Citations in Atlanta, Georgia

Street racing is considered major traffic violation in Georgia. Throughout 2020, there was a significant increase in Street Racing and Laying Drag in Atlanta. In response, the Atlanta Police Department and Georgia State Patrol implemented a substantial coordinated effort to reduce street racing and laying drag on highways. According to the Atlanta Police Department, there were over 2,000 911 calls made between January and October 2020 to report street racing, or laying drag in Atlanta.[1] This blog will explain in detail the law on Racing in Georgia.

 

Racing on Highways or Streets, defined by O.C.G.A. § 40-6-186, means the use of one or more vehicles in an attempt to outgain, outdistance, or prevent another vehicle from passing, to arrive at a given destination ahead of another vehicle or vehicles, or to test the physical stamina or endurance of drivers over long-distance driving routes. Georgia law prohibits any vehicle on a highway or street to engage in any race, or speed competition. It is considered a misdemeanor criminal offense. Officers in Georgia can either issue a citation or make an arrest for Racing. After citation or arrest, there will be an arraignment hearing where you will be asked to enter a guilty or not guilty plea. During the course of the criminal case, there may be plea negotiations, a bench trial, or a jury trial.

 

What is the punishment for Racing in Georgia?

 

Since it is a misdemeanor offense, the maximum penalty is 12 months in jail for this charge.  In addition to Racing, the officer may also cite you with speeding and reckless driving, which each can carry another 12 month sentence consecutive. In addition to probation or jail, there will be insurance premium increases, and a mandatory license suspension. If you are convicted of Racing in Georgia, the license suspension is a minimum 120 days. A limited permit is an option that can be explored.

 

However, the driver’s license suspension could be much longer depending on any previous tickets on your motor vehicle report. This is because Racing is a contributing offense towards Habitual Violator status. For example, if in the past five years you were convicted of Suspended Registration, DUI, and Racing, it would be a five-year habitual violator suspension. (Check out our blog on Habitual Violator here: ___________). A skilled defense lawyer will evaluate your motor vehicle report to help advise you on license consequences as well as negotiate favorable resolutions where license suspension, points, and jail are always avoided where possible. Lastly, bench and jury trials are also an option in Racing and other traffic cases.

 

If you or a loved one has been cited or arrested for Racing in Atlanta, give us a call for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999. With increased focus throughout Atlanta on these types of charges, it is imperative to have an advocate in court if you are charged with Racing or Laying Drag in Georgia.

[1] Reckless Driving, Laying Drag, and Racing on Highways/Streets Charges Issued by APD https://citycouncil.atlantaga.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=4598

Laying Drag Arrests and Citations in Atlanta, Georgia

This past year saw a new illegal trend in Atlanta: Laying Drag. We saw it everywhere from local news coverage to live streamed social media posts of cars driven in a circular course while bystanders gathered to look on. In response to the increase in Laying Drag in Atlanta, the Atlanta Police Department and the Georgia State Patrol has cracked down by issuing hefty citations and making arrests for those involved. In fact, Atlanta Police Department has a specific street racing detail that “aggressively monitors and pursues” those involved in laying drag or street racing. Likewise, there has been a sharp increase in prosecutions for laying drag.

 

Under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-251, Georgia law prohibits drivers from operating their vehicle in a manner that creates a danger to persons or property by intentionally and unnecessarily causing the vehicle to move in a zigzag or circular course or to gyrate or spin around. Citations or arrests can be made if laying drag was on highways, streets, or even in parking lots.

 

The exception under Georgia law for driving in such a way is to avoid an accident or collision. Otherwise, laying drag in Georgia is a misdemeanor criminal offense. The penalty for misdemeanors in Georgia is jail time up to 12 months or a $1,000 fine, or both. Paying a ticket online or at court for laying drag is a guilty plea and admission of guilt.

 

If convicted of Laying Drags in Georgia, the Department of Driver Services will also assess 3 points onto your driver’s license. This can cause insurance premium increases and even a license suspension depending on what other citations you have on your record, or are given at the same time as Laying Drag. For example, most police officers will issue at a minimum BOTH a Laying Drag ticket simultaneously with a Reckless Driving ticket. Reckless Driving is a charge that is reported to your criminal history and would assess an additional 4 points on your motor vehicle report.

 

Given the increase in police patrols and news coverage on this type of driving behavior, it is imperative to have an attorney advocate for you in court if you are cited or arrested for laying drag. Skilled lawyers can negotiate favorable resolutions. Both bench trials and jury trials are an option in Laying drag cases. Give us a call today for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999 to discuss your case.

No Proof of Automobile Insurance in Georgia

Georgia law requires that drivers maintain minimum motor vehicle liability insurance. Additionally, drivers must carry proof of that insurance in their vehicle at all times. Georgia law does allow proof of insurance via electronic format or paper.

 

What is the Required Minimum Georgia Insurance Coverage?

  • Bodily Injury Liability: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
  • Property Damage Liability: $25,000 per accident

If you are pulled over driving a vehicle that does not have minimum insurance, you can be arrested or cited and charged with violating Georgia’s No Insurance statute under O.C.G.A. 40-6-10.  Georgia law requires that police officers determine if the driver has minimum insurance coverage every time the law enforcement officer stops a vehicle or requests driver’s license. You can be charged under this statute even if you were not the driver so long as you “authorized” someone to drive your vehicle without insurance.

What is the Penalty for Driving with No Insurance in Georgia?

Driving without insurance is a misdemeanor criminal offense that carries minimum fines and the possibility of 12 months in jail, or both. The minimum base fine for No Insurance is $200.00 and the maximum fine is $1,000.00.

Convictions for No Insurance will result in a license suspension.  On a first conviction, it is a 60 day license suspension, with no limited permit available. In order to reinstate after this suspension, you must pay a $210.00 reinstatement fee, show proof of having prepaid for six months of minimum insurance coverage, and maintain that policy for three years. On a second conviction within 5 years, it is a 90 day license suspension, the same prepaid policy requirements as the first, and a higher reinstatement fee of $310.00.

 

No Proof of Insurance in Georgia

 

Failure to keep proof of insurance in the vehicle is a separate charge from having no insurance at all.  If you in fact did have valid insurance at the time of the citation or arrest, the Judge must reduce the fine to $25.00 and not submit your license to be suspended. However, if you simply pay the fine on the No Proof of Insurance ticket, you will still incur the license suspension as if you had no insurance at all.

 

There are numerous defenses and mitigating factors if you or a loved one is charged with No Insurance or No Proof of Insurance in Georgia. Skilled lawyers can use new insurance policies in mitigation to try to have the Court reduce or dismiss the charge and sentence.

 

Paying a ticket on these offenses will result in license suspension, high fines, potential jail, and lengthy probation sentences. If you have been cited or arrested for No Insurance or No Proof of Insurance, call us today for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

 

Georgia Criminal Law – Auto Theft Offenses

Georgia has several laws dealing with the theft of motor vehicles. This article serves to explain the nature of the offenses, possible punishment if convicted, and defenses to such charges.

Carjacking

Under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-44.1, a person commits the offense of vehicle hijacking when they take a car from another person by force and violence or intimidation, while in the possession of a firearm or weapon.

A person convicted of motor vehicle hijacking faces a 10 to 20 years imprisonment, and a fine ranging from $10,000 to $100,000. For a second conviction for carjacking, the new conviction results in a life in prison sentence plus a fine ranging from $100,000 to $500,000. It is not necessary that the defendant committed the prior carjacking in Georgia in order to receive a life sentence.

Motor Vehicle Theft

Unlike the above carjacking statute, there is no specific offense related to the nonviolent theft of an automobile. Rather, an individual who commits a nonviolent auto theft may be charged with “theft by taking” which O.C.G.A. 16-8-2, which makes it a crime for a person to “unlawfully take or, being in lawful possession thereof, unlawfully appropriate any property of another with the intention of depriving the owner of the property, regardless of the manner in which the property is taken or appropriated.”

As we can see, a person may be charged with theft by taking regardless of whether they took the property with or without permission of the owner, so long as the person takes the property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property. A common example of the former is when a person takes a vehicle with the permission of the owner, but then fails to return the vehicle to the owner.

This situation is also similar to the offense of “theft by conversion” which occurs when, being in legal possession of another’s property pursuant to an agreement (such as a lease or other rental agreement), converts the property to the person’s own use, in violation of the agreement. This is not a breach of contract issue but rather the punishment of depriving the owner of their property.

Punishment for Motor Vehicle Theft

O.C.G.A. § 16-8-12 provides sentencing guidelines for a defendant convicted of nonviolent motor vehicle theft, regardless of whether the defendant has been convicted of theft by taking or theft by conversion. The law creates different levels of punishment based upon the type of vehicle stolen.

Vehicles Used in Commercial Transportation of Cargo

O.C.G.A. § 16-8-12 (a)(8) provides, a person convicted of stealing a vehicle engaged in commercial transportation of cargo faces a minimum of 3 years imprisonment and a maximum of 10 years in addition to a fine of $5,000 to $50,000. A sentencing judge has the authority to place the defendant on probation or suspend the sentence in lieu of prison time. Furthermore, if the defendant has a commercial driver’s license (CDL), a conviction for commercial vehicle theft will cause a loss of their CDL.

Non-commercial Vehicles

If the vehicle at issue was not engaged in commercial transportation of cargo, the offense is punished based on the value of the vehicle. Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 16-8-12 (a)(1), if the vehicle is valued at:

$1,500.01 to $5,000: 1-5 years in prison

$5,000 to $25,000: 1-10 years in prison, and

$25,000 or more: 2-20 years in prison

Interestingly, a sentencing judge has the ability to punish the offense as a misdemeanor, regardless of the value of the property. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor conviction is one (1) year in jail and $1,000 fine, or both.  

Joy Riding

Georgia law prohibits joy riding under the criminal trespass statute rather then a specialized joy riding statute. Joyriding is commonly defined as the taking or driving someone else’s vehicle without their permission. Examples can include children taking their parent’s car or valets or mechanics driving the owners car without their permission. The key difference between joyriding and theft is the degree of intent. Joyriding does not require proof the person intended to deprive the owner of the vehicle permanently. Under O.C.G.A. § 16-7-21, a person commits criminal trespass by entering another person’s vehicle for an unlawful purpose or enters the vehicle of another after having been previously forbidden from doing so by the owner. Typically, joyriding is punished as a misdemeanor. It may, however, be punished as a felony if the defendant fails to return the vehicle after a significant period of time, the defendant intends to use the vehicle to commit a crime, or if the defendant damages the vehicle while joyriding.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one is facing criminal prosecution, please contact our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation. Our firm has specialized knowledge and experience in handling criminal cases in various jurisdictions across Georgia.

Georgia DUI Law – What a Georgia DUI Costs

In 2018, there were 21,784 DUI convictions in Georgia. A DUI arrest and conviction has serious consequences. Among those consequences, you can expect to pay a significant amount of money in defending the case. This article serves to provide a general idea of what it costs to be arrested and convicted of DUI.

  1. Bail/Bond: $150 – $2,500. Cost of bail in a DUI arrest depends on a variety of factors including but not limited to prior criminal history, case facts, and ties to the community.
  2. Towing: $50 – $200. The cost of towing and impounding a car can increase daily.
  3. Insurance Increase: $4,500 or more. Depending on your insurance carrier and driving history, your rates could double, triple or even quadruple over a period of three to five years.
  4. Legal Fees: $2,000- $25,000.
  5. Fines: $300 – $5000. These base fines vary depending on the nature of your offense and any prior DUI’s. These base fines do not include statutory court costs which can increase the base fine by 50% or more. 
  6. Alcohol Evaluation: $95 – $300. The law requires completion of an alcohol and drug evaluation and treatment if recommended by the evaluator.
  7. Classes: $500 – $4,000. As part of a DUI conviction you will be required to complete a Risk Reduction class (also referred to as “DUI School”). This class costs $350. You are also required to complete a Victim Impact Panel which costs roughly $100.
  8. License reinstatement fees: $210 – $410. License reinstatement generally costs $210. However, depending on your history, you could be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle in order to reinstate your license. You would have to pay for the installation of the device plus daily maintenance costs.

Contact Us

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.

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.

Georgia DUI Law: Challenging the Stop, Defective Equipment

Georgia DUI investigations usually begin with a routine traffic stop. At a minimum, in order to stop you and your vehicle, the stopping officer needs to have “reasonable and articulable suspicion” to believe a crime has, or is about to be committed. An officer normally satisfies this requirement by observing a traffic or equipment violation. However, if it is determined the officer did NOT have reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop your vehicle; this could result in the suppression of evidence and the ultimate dismissal of a DUI charge.

Therefore, it is crucial to examine the most common types of traffic violations that result in a DUI investigation. This article serves to inform you of the nature, methods of proof, penalties, and challenges to a defective equipment offense in Georgia.

The Offense

O.C.G.A. §§ 40-8-7(a) and (b) state:

(a) No person shall drive or move on any highway any motor vehicle, trailer, semi trailer, or pole trailer, or any combination thereof, unless the equipment upon any and every such vehicle is in good working order and adjustment as required in this chapter and the vehicle is in such safe mechanical condition as not to endanger the driver or other occupant or any person upon the highway.

(b) It is a misdemeanor for any person to drive or move, or for the owner to cause or knowingly permit to be driven or moved, on any street or highway any vehicle or combination of vehicles:

(1) Which is in such unsafe condition as to endanger any person;

(2) Which does not contain those parts or is not at all times equipped with such lights and other equipment in proper condition and adjustment as required in this chapter; or

(3) Which is equipped in any manner in violation of this chapter.

Even if you are driving perfectly, a police officer may still stop your vehicle if any of its equipment is non-operational. Examples include, but are not limited to, missing taillight, broken tag light, or a low hanging bumper. Although the spirit of this law is to protect other motorists from defective vehicles on the road, this traffic offense is often used as a “pre-textual stop,” meaning the officer stops you for this offense in hopes of discovering another criminal offense, particularly DUI. Although the law used to criticize these types of stops, a line of United States Supreme Court cases has weakened these types of challenges.[1]   

Penalties

Under Georgia law, technically, these equipment violations are misdemeanors and are therefore punishable with up to a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail. Although these are the maximum punishments, equipment violations generally do not result in jail time. Normally, if you get the defective equipment fixed, and provide proof of such to the prosecuting attorney, your case will likely be dismissed.

Challenging the Stop

If an officer pulls you over for an equipment violation and ultimately arrests you for DUI, you may lodge a challenge to the stop of your vehicle through a motion to suppress or a motion in limine. These challenges are designed to attack the stop, arrest, or any evidence gathered as a result of an unlawful stop and/or arrest.

If you are facing a DUI-Less Safe case, the State will have to prove “less safe driving.” If you have only been cited for defective equipment, the State will have great difficulty in proving alcohol caused you to be a less safe driver because there is no “less safe” driving act (ie. speeding, failure to maintain lane, improper turn, etc.). This is a major issue a defense attorney should raise during trial.

Contact Us

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] See, Atwater v. City of Lago Vista, 532 U.S. 318, 121 S. Ct. 1536 (2001); Whren v. U.S., 517 U.S. 806, 116 S. Ct. 1769  (1996); Ohio v. Robinette, 519 U.S. 33, 117 S. Ct. 417 (1996); and Maryland v. Wilson, 519 U.S. 408, 117 S. Ct. 882 (1997).

Georgia DUI Law: Challenging the Stop, Improper Turn

Georgia DUI investigations usually begin with a routine traffic stop. At a minimum, in order to stop you and your vehicle, the stopping officer needs to have “reasonable and articulable suspicion” to believe a crime has, or is about to be committed. An officer normally satisfies this requirement by observing a traffic or equipment violation. However, if it is determined the officer did NOT have reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop your vehicle; this could result in the suppression of evidence and the ultimate dismissal of a DUI charge.

Therefore, it is crucial to examine the most common types of traffic violations that result in a DUI investigation. This article serves to inform you of what type of things police officers are looking for when stopping for improper turn.

The Offense

O.C.G.A. § 40-6-120 requires the driver of a vehicle intending to turn at an intersection to do the following:

(1) RIGHT TURN. Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway;

(2) LEFT TURN.

(A) As used in this paragraph, the term “extreme left-hand lane” means the lane furthest to the left that is lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction as the turning vehicle. In the event of multiple lanes, the second extreme left-hand lane shall be the lane to the right of the extreme left-hand lane that is lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction as the turning vehicle. The third extreme left-hand lane shall be the lane to the right of the second extreme left-hand lane and so forth.

(B) The driver of a vehicle intending to turn left shall approach the turn in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of the turning vehicle. Whenever practicable, the left turn shall be made to the left of the center of the intersection and so as to exit the intersection or other location in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction as the turning vehicle on the roadway being entered.

(C) In the event of multiple turn lanes, the driver of a vehicle turning left shall exit the intersection in the same relative travel lane as the vehicle entered the intersection. If the vehicle is in the second extreme left-hand lane entering the intersection the vehicle shall exit the intersection in the second extreme left-hand lane. Where there are multiple lanes of travel in the same direction safe for travel, a vehicle shall not be permitted to make a lane change once the intersection has been entered.

The most common way to violate this law is when you make a “wide turn.” A wide turn is when you start your turn in one lane and drift over into another lane while executing or finishing your turn. This is a common maneuver you will see on the road and a close look at the language of the law prohibits this conduct.

Interestingly, in State v. Morgan, 260 Ga. App. 263, 581 S.E.2d 296 (2003), the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s suppression of the traffic stop. Morgan was stopped for making a right hand turn into the left lane of two eastbound lanes of Hwy 278, then immediately got into a left turn lane to turn onto Hazelbrand Rd. approximately 100 yards from where he entered Hwy 278; the turn was reasonable and the reasonable suspicion for the stop was unreasonable. Because the spirit of our traffic laws is to ensure safe and reasonable driving among motorists, the Court decided, given the facts of Morgan and the reasonableness of his driving, there was no reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop his vehicle even though Morgan made a wide turn.

Challenging the Stop

Like any traffic stop,  is important to challenge the officer’s observations to determine whether the stopping officer has reasonable and articulable suspicion necessary to stop your car. The most successful way to accomplish this is to challenge the officer’s perception. Key issues include, but are not limited to:

  • Distance between the officer and your vehicle
  • Angles of officer’s observation
  • Traffic conditions (no traffic makes an improper turn more reasonable and safe)
  • Lighting
  • The mechanics of the turn

Contact Us

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.

Traffic Tickets and Young Drivers

Under 21 and Received a Ticket?

Traffic tickets happen to the best of us. There are very few people who have not been stopped by a police officer, whether it be for Speeding, Failure to Yield, or even Following too Closely.  The consequences of receiving a traffic ticket in Georgia vary depending on the severity of the traffic offense, as well as on the motor vehicle history of the driver. Georgia law may assess points on your license that can cause insurance increases, and will even suspend your driver’s license depending on the offense. However, there is nobody who is affected more harshly with a traffic ticket than a young driver. Drivers under the age of 21 are treated differently than adult drivers, and drivers under the age of 18 are treated even more severely than that.  

Mandatory Suspensions

There are certain mandatory suspensions for drivers under 21 years of age:

  • Hit and run or Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Racing on highways or streets
  • Speeding
  • Fleeing or Attempting to Elude
  • Reckless driving
  • Improper passing
  • Unlawful passing of a school bus
  • Aggressive driving
  • Driving Under the Influence

It can get worse

The suspensions for an under 21 driver are a minimum period of 6 months. In these scenarios, there is no limited permit for work or school available. If you get two or more of the more serious traffic tickets when you are under 21 years old, your license is suspended for a full 12 months. Thus, if you are a young driver charged with a traffic offense, it is imperative to have an attorney represent your interests in negotiating your case to a reduced charge that will not have the same affect on your driving privileges.

If you are a driver between the age of 15 and 17, Georgia law can be even more harsh. In addition to the above offenses that can suspend your license, even minor tickets can suspend your license when you are under 18 years old and still in high school. This is based on Georgia law that suspends young drivers’ licenses after only 4 points in a 12 month period. This can mean just 1 speeding ticket can suspend your license.

What’s next?

There are several options if you are a young driver in Georgia facing traffic offenses. Diversion programs allow young drivers to complete a driving course or community service in exchange for a dismissal of the ticket. Defense attorneys can negotiate with the prosecuting attorney to reduce the charge to fit within another charge that does not suspend your license or raise your insurance. If you or a young driver you know has been charged with a traffic ticket in Georgia, call us today for a free consultation. We have represented young drivers all over Metro Atlanta and Georgia with insurmountable success. 404-581-0999.