Help! I Failed to Appear in Gwinnett Recorder’s Court!

If you miss court in the Gwinnett County Recorder’s Court, you are likely in FTA status. This means that you failed to appear for your court date and it is probable that your driver’s license has been suspended. The tricky thing about FTAs is that you likely don’t even know that you missed court until you are pulled over and an officer tells you that your license is suspended.

The court will not lift your FTA suspension until you deal with the underlying traffic charge. This could mean just paying a fine, but it may also require an in court appearance. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the process quickly and effectively and get you on the road to reinstating your license.

The lawyers at W. Scott Smith are experienced at helping clients resolve FTAs and guiding clients in the best way to resolve the underlying traffic charge. Call us today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation on how to move forward, resolve the FTA, and have your driver’s license reinstated.

Failure to Maintain Lane: A Cop’s Most Used Weapon in DUI’s

In the State of Georgia, police officers can use the offense of “failure to maintain lane” as a tool to initiate a traffic stop and potentially investigate a driver for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI). This offense occurs when a driver fails to stay within their lane while driving on the road.

When a police officer observes a vehicle crossing lane lines, or exhibiting other signs of erratic driving that may indicate impairment, they can use this as reasonable suspicion to pull the driver over. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-48 states that “a vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane.” It prohibits drivers from leaving their lane until they have determined that a lane change can be made safely. NOTE: weaving within your lane is NOT a failure to maintain lane- the vehicle must cross or touch lane lines. Once the vehicle is stopped, the officer may then proceed with further investigation, which could include administering field sobriety tests or breathalyzer tests to determine if the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

It’s important to note that while failure to maintain lane can be a legitimate reason for a traffic stop, officers must still follow proper procedures and have reasonable suspicion of DUI to detain and arrest a driver. This means they must observe additional signs of impairment beyond just the lane deviation. It is usually accompanied by “bloodshot eyes”, or “odor of alcohol.” If you get pulled over for a DUI, call us immediately.

 

License Consequences for DUI Convictions in the Municipal Court of Smyrna

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

In Georgia, an individual may be charged with DUI under the following circumstances:

  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of alcohol to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of any drug to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of a combination of any two or more controlled substances, which does include alcohol, to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while his/her alcohol concentration was .08 grams or more, or at any time within three hours after such driving ended.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while there was any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance, as defined by O.C.G.A § 16-13-21, present in his/her blood or urine.

If an accused is convicted of a DUI in the Municipal Court of Smyrna, pursuant to O.C.G.A § 40-6-391, his/her license will be suspended. This is a mandatory suspension required by the Department of Driver’s Services. The length of the suspension is decided by how many prior DUI convictions he/she has had in the last five years. Those suspensions are as follows:

  • If the accused has not had a prior DUI conviction in the last five years:
    • The suspension will be for a period of 120 days.
    • During that suspension, the accused will be eligible for a limited permit to drive if he/she is a resident of Georgia, and he/she has not had a prior DUI conviction in the last five years.
    • After the 120-day license suspension, the accused will be eligible to get their permanent license back if he/she has completed a Risk Reduction Course, otherwise known as DUI school, and paid a $210 reinstatement fee.
  • If this is the second DUI conviction in the last five years for the accused:
    • The suspension will be for a period of 18 months.
    • For the first 4 months of the suspension, there will be a hard suspension with no eligibility for a limited permit. This means for the first 4 months, he/she will not be able to drive.
    • After the first 4 months, he/she may be issued a limited permit if he/she installs an ignition interlock in their vehicle.
    • After the full 18 months, the accused will be able to reinstate their permanent license if he/she has completed a substance abuse evaluation, and recommended treatment, and has shown proof of that completion to the Department of Driver’s Services.
  • The most serious license suspension happens to drivers who have been convicted of a third DUI in the last five years.
    • If that occurs, the driver will be considered a Habitual Violator.
    • This will require a 5-year license suspension, and there is no eligibility for a limited permit.
    • Only after two years can an accused be eligible for a probationary license to drive.
    • It is very important that the accused not drive if he/she is a Habitual Violator, as he/she could be arrested for a felony, if caught driving, that carries at least one year in jail.

Contact Us

Due to the severity of the license suspension consequences of a DUI conviction, it is of vital importance to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know every aspect of defending a DUI, we understand the defenses to the charge, we take pride in advocating for our clients’ constitutional rights, and we detail all options for our clients when defending their case. If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI in the city limits of Smyrna, Georgia, and you are worried about the license consequences associated with a conviction, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

What Does It Mean If I Have Been Charged With “DUI Less Safe”?

It is commonly known that driving with a BAC above 0.08 is considered driving under the influence in Georgia. But, the police may still charge you with DUI if your BAC is below 0.08 if they feel that you are less safe to drive than you would have been if you had not consumed alcohol.

O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391 (a)(1) states that “a person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive”. This simply means that you may still be charged, and convicted of, DUI even if your BAC registers at a level below 0.08.

If you have been charged with DUI less safe, it is important that you hire an experienced DUI attorney to fight to protect your driver’s license and to prevent the long-term consequences that come with a DUI conviction. The lawyers at W. Scott Smith are experienced with the nuances associated with a DUI case and will work to protect you and resolve your case with the best possible outcome. Call our office at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

HGN: A scientifically reliable indicator?

Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) is a condition where the eyes involuntarily jerk or twitch as they move laterally, typically observed when an individual’s gaze is directed to the side. During a DUI stop, an officer may conduct the HGN test by moving an object (such as a pen or finger) horizontally across the person’s field of vision while observing the eyes for any signs of nystagmus.

While HGN can indicate impairment, its reliability as a sole indicator is questioned for several reasons:

  1. **Subjectivity**: Interpretation of nystagmus can vary between officers, leading to inconsistent results. Factors such as lighting conditions, the officer’s experience, and the subject’s eye characteristics can influence the observations.
  2. **False Positives**: Nystagmus can be influenced by various factors other than alcohol or drug consumption, such as fatigue, certain medical conditions, prescription medications, or even environmental stimuli like flashing lights.
  3. **Lack of Specificity**: HGN is not specific to alcohol impairment and cannot distinguish between alcohol and drug impairment. Different substances affect the body differently, and HGN alone cannot pinpoint the specific substance causing impairment.

Therefore, while HGN can be a useful tool in conjunction with other field sobriety tests and evidence, its limitations make it unreliable as a standalone indicator of impairment in DUI cases.

License Consequences for DUI Convictions in the Municipal Court of Atlanta

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

In Georgia, an individual may be charged with DUI under the following circumstances:

  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of alcohol to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of any drug to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of a combination of any two or more controlled substances, which does include alcohol, to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while his/her alcohol concentration was .08 grams or more, or at any time within three hours after such driving ended.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while there was any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance, as defined by O.C.G.A § 16-13-21, present in his/her blood or urine.

If an accused is convicted of a DUI in the Municipal Court of Atlanta, pursuant to O.C.G.A § 40-6-391, his/her license will be suspended. This is a mandatory suspension required by the Department of Driver’s Services. The length of the suspension is decided by how many prior DUI convictions he/she has had in the last five years. Those suspensions are as follows:

  • If the accused has not had a prior DUI conviction in the last five years:
    • The suspension will be for a period of 120 days.
    • During that suspension, the accused will be eligible for a limited permit to drive if he/she is a resident of Georgia, and he/she has not had a prior DUI conviction in the last five years.
    • After the 120-day license suspension, the accused will be eligible to get their permanent license back if he/she has completed a Risk Reduction Course, otherwise known as DUI school, and paid a $210 reinstatement fee.
  • If this is the second DUI conviction in the last five years for the accused:
    • The suspension will be for a period of 18 months.
    • For the first 4 months of the suspension, there will be a hard suspension with no eligibility for a limited permit. This means for the first 4 months, he/she will not be able to drive.
    • After the first 4 months, he/she may be issued a limited permit if he/she installs an ignition interlock in their vehicle.
    • After the full 18 months, the accused will be able to reinstate their permanent license if he/she has completed a substance abuse evaluation, and recommended treatment, and has shown proof of that completion to the Department of Driver’s Services.
  • The most serious license suspension happens to drivers who have been convicted of a third DUI in the last five years.
    • If that occurs, the driver will be considered a Habitual Violator.
    • This will require a 5-year license suspension, and there is no eligibility for a limited permit.
    • Only after two years can an accused be eligible for a probationary license to drive.
    • It is very important that the accused not drive if he/she is a Habitual Violator, as he/she could be arrested for a felony, if caught driving, that carries at least one year in jail.

Contact Us

Due to the severity of the license suspension consequences of a DUI conviction, it is of vital importance to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know every aspect of defending a DUI, we understand the defenses to the charge, we take pride in advocating for our clients’ constitutional rights, and we detail all options for our clients when defending their case. If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI in Atlanta, and you are worried about the license consequences associated with a conviction, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Georgia DUI

When you are pulled over for suspicion of a DUI, the officer will conduct a test called “horizontal gaze nystagmus” or HGN for short. This is the test where an officer will ask you to follow either their finger or a pen to see if the eyes involuntarily jerk or twitch as your eyes move laterally.

The test must be done correctly. The officer must place the stimulus (usually a pen or their finger) 12 to 15 inches away from your nose and slightly above eye level. Then the officer must move the stimulus in a stage consisting of 14 passes. The first stage of passes has the officer moving the stimulus from left to right to center for at least two seconds to check or equal tracking of the pupils.

The second stage has the officer place the stimulus from the center position to your left and back to the center. They will repeat this for the right eye. The stimulus should be moved at a speed that takes at least two seconds from the center position to the side position.

The third stage of passes is designed to determine whether the person has distinct nystagmus at the point in which your eye is fully moved to one side and cannot move any further. The stimulus moves from center to the side taking at least two seconds, holding at the side for at least four seconds, and then moved back to the center in at least two seconds.

The final stage is a set of four passes designed to determine if the onset nystagmus occurs before your eye moves to a 45-degree deviation. It must take at least four seconds to move the stimulus from your center to a spot around your shoulder. The stimulus must be held long enough to confirm the onset nystagmus. Each of the passes in this phase must take at least eight seconds, with a three second count out, a two second count hold, and a three second count back.

 

It is vital to note that the entirety of the HGN test must take AT LEAST 82 seconds- usually around 90 seconds. If the officer is well under that time, then they employed the test incorrectly and the HGN test can be excluded from any evidence that could indicate potential impairment. The stimulus must also remain in the 12 to 15 inch range from your nose and its path cannot loop or curve. If it does, then the officer did not administer the test properly. If you’re pulled over for a DUI, make sure you know the process for HGN evaluation and call our office today.

License Consequences for DUI Convictions in Henry County, Georgia

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

In Georgia, an individual may be charged with DUI under the following circumstances:

  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of alcohol to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of any drug to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of a combination of any two or more controlled substances, which does include alcohol, to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while his/her alcohol concentration was .08 grams or more, or at any time within three hours after such driving ended.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while there was any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance, as defined by O.C.G.A § 16-13-21, present in his/her blood or urine.

If an accused is convicted of a DUI in Henry County, pursuant to O.C.G.A § 40-6-391, his/her license will be suspended. This is a mandatory suspension required by the Department of Driver’s Services. The length of the suspension is decided by how many prior DUI convictions he/she has had in the last five years. Those suspensions are as follows:

  • If the accused has not had a prior DUI conviction in the last five years:
    • The suspension will be for a period of 120 days.
    • During that suspension, the accused will be eligible for a limited permit to drive if he/she is a resident of Georgia, and he/she has not had a prior DUI conviction in the last five years.
    • After the 120-day license suspension, the accused will be eligible to get their permanent license back if he/she has completed a Risk Reduction Course, otherwise known as DUI School, and paid a $210 reinstatement fee.
  • If this is the second DUI conviction in the last five years for the accused:
    • The suspension will be for a period of 18 months.
    • For the first 4 months of the suspension, there will be a hard suspension with no eligibility for a limited permit. This means for the first 4 months, he/she will not be able to drive.
    • After the first 4 months, he/she may be issued a limited permit if he/she installs an ignition interlock in their vehicle.
    • After the full 18 months, the accused will be able to reinstate their permanent license if he/she has completed a substance abuse evaluation, and recommended treatment, and has shown proof of that completion to the Department of Driver’s Services.
  • The most serious license suspension happens to drivers who have been convicted of a third DUI in the last five years.
    • If that occurs, the driver will be considered a Habitual Violator.
    • This will require a 5-year license suspension, and there is no eligibility for a limited permit.
    • Only after two years can an accused be eligible for a probationary license to drive.
    • It is very important that the accused not drive if he/she is a Habitual Violator, as he/she could be arrested for a felony, if caught driving, that carries at least one year in jail.

Contact Us

Due to the severity of the license suspension consequences of a DUI conviction, it is of vital importance to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know every aspect of defending a DUI, we understand the defenses to the charge, we take pride in advocating for our clients’ constitutional rights, and we detail all options for our clients when defending their case. If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI in Henry County, and you are worried about the license consequences associated with a conviction, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Tests and Refusals: Know Your Rights

When someone is pulled over for suspicion of DUI in Georgia, they will be asked to perform a series of tasks that could indicate potential impairment to the arresting police officer. It is important to note that these tests are entirely voluntary. If you choose not to perform the tests, your refusal statement cannot be used against you in trial in any attempt to generate incriminating evidence. This is because mandating field sobriety tests would violate the right of self-incrimination. The same can be said when the police officer asks for your consent to any blood testing or breath testing. Although the officer can obtain a search warrant, you do not have to submit to chemical testing on the spot. Do not be misled into believing that if you refuse these chemical tests, your statement of refusal will be used against you at trial.  If you’ve been pulled over for a DUI, contact us today.

License Consequences for DUI Convictions in Cherokee County, Georgia

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

In Georgia, an individual may be charged with DUI under the following circumstances:

  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of alcohol to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of any drug to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while he/she was under the influence of a combination of any two or more controlled substances, which does include alcohol, to an extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while his/her alcohol concentration was .08 grams or more, or at any time within three hours after such driving ended.
  • If he/she was in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while there was any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance, as defined by O.C.G.A § 16-13-21, present in his/her blood or urine.

If an accused is convicted of a DUI in Cherokee County, pursuant to O.C.G.A § 40-6-391, his/her license will be suspended. This is a mandatory suspension required by the Department of Driver’s Services. The length of the suspension is decided by how many prior DUI convictions he/she has had in the last five years. Those suspensions are as follows:

  • If the accused has not had a prior DUI conviction in the last five years:
    • The suspension will be for a period of 120 days.
    • During that suspension, the accused will be eligible for a limited permit to drive if he/she is a resident of Georgia, and he/she has not had a prior DUI conviction in the last five years.
    • After the 120-day license suspension, the accused will be eligible to get their permanent license back if he/she has completed a Risk Reduction Course, otherwise known as DUI school, and paid a $210 reinstatement fee.
  • If this is the second DUI conviction in the last five years for the accused:
    • The suspension will be for a period of 18 months.
    • For the first 4 months of the suspension, there will be a hard suspension with no eligibility for a limited permit. This means for the first 4 months, he/she will not be able to drive.
    • After the first 4 months, he/she may be issued a limited permit if he/she installs an ignition interlock in their vehicle.
    • After the full 18 months, the accused will be able to reinstate their permanent license if he/she has completed a substance abuse evaluation, and recommended treatment, and has shown proof of that completion to the Department of Driver’s Services.
  • The most serious license suspension happens to drivers who have been convicted of a third DUI in the last five years.
    • If that occurs, the driver will be considered a Habitual Violator.
    • This will require a 5-year license suspension, and there is no eligibility for a limited permit.
    • Only after two years can an accused be eligible for a probationary license to drive.
    • It is very important that the accused not drive if he/she is a Habitual Violator, as he/she could be arrested for a felony, if caught driving, that carries at least one year in jail.

Contact Us

Due to the severity of the license suspension consequences of a DUI conviction, it is of vital importance to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know every aspect of defending a DUI, we understand the defenses to the charge, we take pride in advocating for our clients’ constitutional rights, and we detail all options for our clients when defending their case. If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI in Cherokee County, and you are worried about the license consequences associated with a conviction, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.