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.

What do you do if you are arrested for possession with intent or trafficking in drugs in Georgia?

If you or a loved one is arrested for Possession with Intent to Distribute or Trafficking in Georgia, it is important that you act immediately to protect yourself. Do not wait until your court date to get an attorney and to preserve evidence.

The District Attorney has a dedicated division to prosecute cases involving Possession with Intent to Distribute or Trafficking. They will vigorously prosecute you if you are charged with a crime involving selling cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, marijuana or other illegal drugs.   

Do not think that just because you are innocent that the charges will be dismissed. Drug charges are aggressively prosecuted all over the State of Georgia.

Make sure your attorney has had felony jury trials and has won these cases. Do not let an attorney handle your case who does not specifically handle drug cases. Many drug cases are won at a motions hearing. It is imperative that you get body cams, dash cams, search warrants and take witness statements of anyone involved in the search and seizure of the drugs.  

The law may say you are presumed innocent but in drug cases, you have to prove your innocence.

Here is what you should do if arrested for Possession with Intent to Distribute or Trafficking.

  1. Hire an attorney – Make sure that attorney actually handles and tries drug cases. Most criminal defense attorneys do not handle these cases. Make sure the attorney you talk to does regularly handles drug cases in Georgia
  2. Avoid making any statements – Do not walk into the police department and profess your innocence. The police will not believe you. Do not think you can show up at your first court date and tell the prosecutor and judge that you are innocent and expect the charges to be dropped. If you are arrested for possession with intent to distribute or trafficking, you have to start preparing for your jury trial. Do not make any statements to anyone except your lawyer.
  3. Start gathering important evidence
    1. Gather and preserve any physical evidence in your possession.
    1. Gather and preserve any documents that might relate to this accusation including emails, texts, social media, phone records, GPS records, computer records or any other document that might show where you were when this incident allegedly occurred.
    1. Witnesses – Immediately make a list of any person who you think might have information about this accusation. Do not discuss the case with this person but pass this list of potential witnesses to your attorney and let your attorney contact them.

Here is what you should never do if arrested for possession with intent to distribute or trafficking in Georgia.

  1. Never talk to law enforcement or the prosecutor without an attorney.

If you are arrested for possession with intent to distribute or trafficking in cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine or any other illegal drug, please call our office 24/7 at 404-581-0999 or send us an email at mike@peachstatelawyer.com. We will sit down with you and fully discuss your case and what to expect in court. There is no charge for the initial consultation. You will only retain us if you feel we are the best law firm to represent you. It is your case and your life so you need to hire the lawyer that you feel gives you the best chance to win.

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.

Georgia DUI Law: Challenging the Stop, Driving While Distracted or While Using Mobile Device

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 driving while distracted or while using mobile device.

The Offense

As of July 1, 2018, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241 requires drivers to exercise due care while operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and prohibits “any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.”

In addition, drivers may not:

(1) physically hold or support a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device, except for the use of an earpiece, headphone device, or device worn on a wrist to conduct a voice based communication;

(2) write, send, or read any text-based communication, including text messages, instant messages, e-mails, or Internet data, other than voice commands that are converted to text by the device or used for GPS/navigation feature control;

(3) watch a video or movie on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device, other than watching data related to the navigation of such vehicle; or

(4) record or broadcast a video on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device, other than devices used for the sole purpose of continuously recording or broadcasting video within or outside of the motor vehicle.

Commercial vehicle drivers are restricted from using more than a single button on a wireless telecommunications device to initiate or terminate a voice communication or reaching for a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device in such a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a safety belt.

Exceptions

These prohibitions do not apply if the driver is:

(1) reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, an actual or potential criminal or delinquent act, or road condition which causes an immediate and serious traffic or safety hazard;

(2) an employee or contractor of a utility services provider acting within the scope of his or her employment while responding to a utility emergency;

(3) a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical services personnel, ambulance driver, or other similarly employed public safety first responder during the performance of his or her official duties; or

(4) in a lawfully parked motor vehicle.

O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(g).

Punishment

O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(f) states that violations are punished as misdemeanors, as follows:

(A) For a first conviction with no conviction of and no plea of nolo contendere accepted to a charge of violating this Code section within the previous 24 month period of time, as measured from the dates any previous convictions were obtained or pleas of nolo contendere were accepted to the date the current conviction is obtained or plea of nolo contendere is accepted, a fine of not more than $50.00, but the provisions of Chapter 11 of Title 17 and any other provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the costs of such prosecution shall not be taxed nor shall any additional penalty, fee, or surcharge to a fine for such offense be assessed against a person for conviction thereof;

(B) For a second conviction within a 24 month period of time, as measured from the dates any previous convictions were obtained or pleas of nolo contendere were accepted to the date the current conviction is obtained or plea of nolo contendere is accepted, a fine of not more than $100.00, but the provisions of Chapter 11 of Title 17 and any other provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the costs of such prosecution shall not be taxed nor shall any additional penalty, fee, or surcharge to a fine for such offense be assessed against a person for conviction thereof; or

(C) For a third or subsequent conviction within a 24 month period of time, as measured from the dates any previous convictions were obtained or pleas of nolo contendere were accepted to the date the current conviction is obtained or plea of nolo contendere is accepted, a fine of not more than $150.00, but the provisions of Chapter 11 of Title 17 and any other provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the costs of such prosecution shall not be taxed nor shall any additional penalty, fee, or surcharge to a fine for such offense be assessed against a person for conviction thereof.

A person convicted of simply holding a mobile device while driving may avoid conviction if they bring to court a device or proof of purchase of such device that would allow that person to operate a mobile device hands-free in the future. However, a person may take advantage of this saving provision only once. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(f)(2).

Challenging the Stop

Police officers are looking for distracted drivers, especially those drivers holding their cell phones while driving. If an officer observes this, they would have a lawful reason to stop your vehicle, and possibly launch a DUI investigation. As a result, it 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
  • Lighting
  • Window tint, if any
  • Whether you were lawfully parked

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.

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

Your Case in Municipal Court of Atlanta

There’s no better firm out there for assistance with your upcoming case in the Municipal Court of Atlanta. Our team of highly trained attorneys has been practicing in the Municipal Court of Atlanta building relationships with the prosecutors and judges for as long as they’ve been at 150 Garnett Street.

What does MCOA handle?

The City Court of Atlanta handles almost every traffic citation occurring inside the city limits of Atlanta along with marijuana, shoplifting, and disorderly conduct charges. They also handle all city ordinance charges which involve business license issues, property issues, and some personal citations like disorderly conduct under the influence. There are eleven active courtrooms in the courthouse and most courtrooms have court twice a day.

A case in the Municipal Court of Atlanta has multiple ways it can be resolved. Unlike other municipal courts where your options are guilty or not guilty, the Municipal Court of Atlanta offers pre-trial diversion on a number of traffic and criminal charges, along with other alternative disposition methods if you qualify.

Did you miss court? There might be a warrant out for your arrest? Hiring an attorney may allow you to lift the warrant without appearing in court and risking potential arrest.

Do I need an attorney?

Skilled attorneys can appear in court on your behalf, speed up the process of resolving your charge(s), and negotiate resolutions that a non-attorney may not be able to obtain. It is important that before you resolve your case in the City of Atlanta you give our office a call to discuss potential outcomes and ways we can assist you. The consolation is free, and we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help. Call us today at 404-581-0999.

by Ryan Walsh

Atlanta Pre-Trial Intervention

The Municipal Court of Atlanta has a special program for minor traffic offenses and some accident cases that involves dismissing these cases without them going on your driving history, without any points going on your drivers license, and without you using your nolo contendere plea. It is called the pre-trial intervention program – traffic division, and you can use the program once a year in the Municipal Court of Atlanta for certain citations.

What qualifies?

Some offenses that qualify are:

  1. Speeding offenses UNDER 34 miles per hour
  2. Minor traffic accidents without any injuries
  3. Three point moving violations that do not involve accidents

Entry into the program is voluntary and involves the payment of a fee and potentially completing a driver improvement course or other requirements. You can choose not to handle your case through the PTI-T program and preserve your right to a jury trial in your case. 

Call us today!

Finally, we’d love to help you navigate your traffic citation in the Municipal Court of Atlanta. Call our office for a free in-depth consultation of all your options to resolve your citation. During that consultation we will explain to you the possible and likely outcomes and what we can do for you to save you time and money. Many traffic citations in Atlanta can be handled by us without you ever going to court. Call us today for a free consultation regarding your traffic ticket at 404-581-0999.

Georgia Court Dates

Months ago, you had one of your worst days ever: you were arrested. The time it took to bond out seemed like an eternity. But you’re finally out of jail, and you swear you’ll never be back. Weeks pass, and it all seems like a bad dream. Until one day you check your mail and find a letter from a superior, state or municipal court. The letter is about your arrest. It says you have to be in court on specific days for arraignment, motions, and calendar call. The letter also says if you don’t appear as instructed, you may be issued a bench warrant. But what do these terms mean?

Arraignments

Then and Now

Let’s start with arraignment. Arraignment is a word from British common law adapted into the U.S. Criminal Justice System. Literacy was at an all-time low during the olden days of England. Arraignment was created by their judicial system to tell illiterate defendants their pending charges. Prosecutors would do this by reading defendants’ charges to them in open court, since they couldn’t read the law themselves. Defendants would then be given the opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

Similarly, modern arraignment is the court date at which defendants enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Should you choose Peachstate Lawyer as your legal representation, we will file the appropriate paperwork to ensure you do not have to be in court for arraignment. That paperwork is called a “waiver” of formal arraignment. The waiver we file enables you to enter a plea of not guilty without having to go in front of a judge. The waiver also preserves your attorney’s right to file motions in your case and receive discovery (i.e. evidence) from the state about your case.

Motions

That brings us to the next most important court date in your case: motions. Depending on the county, you may or may not have to be in court for motions. But rest assured that Peachstate Lawyer will file appropriate motions in your case. Motions are important pre-trial steps to contest the state’s evidence against you. Sometimes motions can get a case thrown out all-together. So, it is very important that you have legal defense, like us, who know which motions to file, and ultimately argue, on your behalf.

Calendar Call

Finally, the last court date referenced in the judicial notice you received is for calendar call. My rule of thumb is to instruct all of my clients to be present at calendar call. Most counties in Georgia issue bench warrants for those who do not appear as instructed. And while that is something our firm can take care of, it is in your best interest to avoid having a bench warrant issued for you. (After all, you swore you’d never go back to jail after bonding out months ago.)

Calendar Call is the date at which your attorney tells the Judge how you plan to resolve your case. Even though you initially entered a plea of not guilty, you may decide to resolve you case by guilty plea if don’t want to have a jury trial & your attorney secured a plea offer that you want to accept. Alternatively, your attorney may also announce ready for trial and your case will be added to the Judge’s next trial calendar.

If you’ve received judicial notice in the mail and do not know what to do next, contact our office today for a free consultation.

by Sarah Armstrong

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.