Georgia DUI- What to Do

Remain calm. Getting pulled over by the police is a stressful experience. By keeping cool and following these tips you will greatly decrease the likelihood of a DUI arrest and/or conviction.

Pull Over!

At this point the police officer will be documenting everything you do. You should slow down, signal, and pull over to the nearest and safest place possible. Even if you believe the officer is going to stop someone else, state law requires drivers to yield to emergency vehicles with activated lights.

Put your car in park, engage the parking brake, and turn off the engine. Roll down both driver and passenger front windows as the officer may approach from either side. You don’t have to roll the windows all the way down, just enough as to where the officer can clearly see and hear you. However, if the officer asks you to roll them all the way down, do so.

Place both hands on the steering wheel so the officer can clearly see them. Do not move your hands out of sight or in a fast motion. Doing so could unnecessarily escalate the situation. Also, address the officer as: officer, sir, or ma’am. Respect goes a long way with law enforcement, especially if they suspect you of DUI.

Have Your Documents Ready

Be sure to always keep your updated proof of insurance, driver’s license, and vehicle registration in a place that is easily accessible. If you are fumbling around or have difficulty in producing these items, the officer will perceive this as evidence of impairment and include it in their report. By keeping these documents together and accessible, you can save yourself a lot of trouble.

What to Say

Say as little as possible. Remember, everything you say and do is being documented in the officer’s mind and may also be recorded on a body or dash camera or microphone. Your answers to questions, and any inconsistencies in those answers, will be used in court against you if you are arrested for DUI. In addition, the less you say the less likely an officer can reasonably testify to you having “slurred speech” or “odor of alcohol” coming from your breath. These phrases appear frequently in Georgia DUI cases.  

The officer will likely begin the encounter by asking something like, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” This question is designed to get you in trouble. The best way to answer this question is by simply saying, “no.” By saying, “yes” you invite having to explain yourself. If you admit to breaking a traffic law, you not only establish probable cause to arrest for the traffic violation, but you also bolster the officer’s decision to stop your vehicle.

Next, the officer will likely ask you questions like:

  • Have you been drinking tonight?
  • How much have you drank tonight?
  • What did you drink tonight?
  • Where are you coming from?
  • Where are you going?

DO NOT ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS. Instead, politely say something to the effect of, “I do not wish to answer these questions.” If the officer tries to force the issue, politely ask if you need to get a lawyer.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you ever, ever, admit to drinking or describe how many drinks you’ve had. By doing so you are practically begging for the officer to arrest you, or at least thoroughly investigate you for DUI.

Decline to Perform Field Sobriety Tests

If an officer asks you to step out of the vehicle, do it. But DO NOT agree to perform any field sobriety tests (eye tests, alphabet tests, numerical counting tests, walking tests, balancing tests, etc.) DO NOT agree to a roadside breath test (portable breath test). Although the BAC number of a portable breath test is inadmissible (as opposed to the much larger Intoxilyzer breath machine at the police station or jail) , a positive result is a green light for the officer to arrest for DUI. A simple, “no thank you” or “I respectfully refuse” should be sufficient.

These tests are voluntary and are designed elicit failure. The officer who is deciding whether to arrest you will be the sole judge of your performance. Even if stone sober, you should decline to perform field sobriety tests.

If You Are Arrested…

Do not argue with the officer, you will not win. Do not ask for sympathy or try to explain why you cannot be arrested (work, children, etc.); you will only hurt your case. Remain silent. Again, everything you say can and will be used against you. ASK TO SPEAK WITH AN ATTORNEY even if the officer does not advise you of your right to an attorney.

When You Get to the Police Station

ASK FOR AN ATTORNEY. Renew your earlier request to speak with an attorney. This will prevent the officer from asking you additional questions until you have spoken with an attorney. Call us at 404.581.0999 and we will be glad to assist you. If you have the opportunity to meet with an attorney, be sure to ask the officer for privacy.

DO NOT ANSWER QUESTIONS. If arrested, the officer is supposed to advise you of your 5th Amendment Rights before questioning you. DO NOT WAIVE YOUR RIGHTS by voluntarily speaking with police. REMAIN SILENT. If you do not understand your rights, tell the officer you do not understand your rights. The officer cannot offer legal advice but does have to clarify confusion about the consequences of taking or refusing a test.

Exercise Caution in Agreeing to a Chemical Test  

Be extremely careful in deciding whether to submit to a chemical test of your breath, blood, or urine. Chemical tests are a double-edged sword. Refusing a chemical test benefits you by depriving the officer of potentially incriminating evidence produced by the test. But, if you refuse you suffer a “hard suspension” of your driving privileges for one year. If you have consumed a significant amount of alcohol, you should refuse the State chemical testing.

If you do submit to a chemical test ASK FOR AN ADDITIONAL INDEPENDENT TEST. You have the right to independent testing and the officer must reasonably assist you in obtaining the test.

Talk to a DUI Lawyer

If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI, do not hesitate to call us. The offense of DUI is a vast and complex collection of laws that continue to puzzle lawyers and judges alike. Our office will assist in defending your case and getting the best resolution possible.

 

by Casey Cleaver

DUI Less Safe

by Casey Cleaver

O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391 prohibits a person from driving or being in actual physical control of a moving vehicle when alcohol or a drug makes it “less safe” for that person to drive. The wording of the statute begs two major questions: (1) What does “less safe” mean? (2) How can the State prove alcohol or drugs made someone a less safe driver? This article serves to answer these questions.

In Jones v. State, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that the DUI statute does not require a finding that the driver was unsafe; it only requires a finding that the person was a less safe driver than they would have been were they not under the influence of alcohol [or drugs].[1] Therefore, there is no requirement that the person actually commit an unsafe act.[2]

In State v. Kachwalla the Supreme Court of Georgia held that “less safe to drive” under paragraph (a)(2) of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391 and “rendered incapable of driving safely” under paragraph (a)(6) of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391 set the same standard of impairment necessary to establish that a driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substance.[3]

Case law indicates that circumstantial evidence, opinion testimony, and/or expert witness testimony can be sufficient to prove that drinking alcohol or doing drugs made a defendant a less safe driver.[4] These cases, however, seem to avoid the issue of how, if a witness does not know a defendant’s usual driving habits (e.g. he/she usually speeds, weaves, fails to use turn signals, etc.) that witness can determine whether in a particular situation, consumption of alcohol rendered the driver less safe. It seems necessary that in order to prove alcohol or drugs made someone a less safe driver, the State would also have to provide evidence of the defendant’s normal driving habits and then compare those normal habits against the driving observed by law enforcement.[5]

If you or someone you know has been charged with DUI under the “less safe” provision contact our office today for a free consultation.

[1] Jones v. State, 207 Ga. App. 469 (1993)

[2] Moss v. State, 194 Ga. App. 181 (1990)

[3] State v. Kachwalla, 274 Ga. 886, 887-888 (2002) (stating, “less safe to drive” and “rendered incapable of driving safely” are equivalent standards, legally, historically, and semantically)

[4] Dudley v. State, 204 Ga. App. 327 (1992) (holding expert witness testimony that the amount of cocaine found in defendant’s system would render him a “less safe” driver was sufficient to support the jury’s finding of guilt); Geoffrion v. State, 224 Ga. App. 775, 779 (1997) (holding testimony that the defendant weaved and crossed the centerline was sufficient evidence to sustain a verdict that defendant was a less safe driver); Duggan v. State, 225 Ga. App. 291, 293 (1997) (holding that when there is evidence that the defendant has been drinking, evidence of the manner of driving, including excessive speed, may be taken into consideration to determine whether the intoxicant affected him to the extent that he drove less safely); Hamilton v. State, 228 Ga. App. 285 (1997) (holding officer testimony regarding his observations of defendant and defendant’s performance on Field Sobriety Tests was sufficient to establish the defendant was intoxicated to the point that he was less safe to drive).

[5] See Peck v. State, 245 Ga. App. 599 (2000)

Georgia DUI – License Hearing and Ignition Interlock Device

Do I fight for a license hearing or choose an Ignition Interlock Device? This is a tough question but one that must be answered within thirty days of your arrest. The Ignition Interlock device is a decent option for those individuals charged with a DUI-Refusal where they are facing a hard one-year suspension if they lose the administrative license hearing. The license hearing is the only recommended route for a DUI-Per Se case where you ultimately submitted to a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine. This recommendation is based on the fact that you are eligible for a limited driving permit even if you lose the hearing. Installing the Ignition Interlock in this situation will just add unnecessary burden and expense. Still, many times we will advise you to submit a request for an administrative hearing even if you are facing the one-year hard suspension , but that decision is based on your personal needs and the facts of your case.

If you wish to file an appeal and request an administrative hearing, then the formal request must be mailed off within thirty days from the date of your arrest. Those are not thirty business days and that is a strict deadline so you must mail your request the Friday before the deadline if it falls on a weekend.

If you wish to go the Ignition Interlock route, then you must first install the Ignition Interlock device at a certified provider. With the Ignition Interlock installed, you must then go to your local DDS branch to show proof of installation and file a waiver of the administrative hearing.

Making this decision isn’t easy, but it’s often the first step of the DUI process. For an in-depth evaluation of all your options, call us today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

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.

 

How Do I Get Out of the City of Atlanta Jail?

by Ryan Walsh

You’ve been arrested in the City of Atlanta. You’re in the back of the patrol car and being transported to Atlanta Pre-Trial Detention Center. What do you do?

First, do not make any statements to the police while you are being transported to the Atlanta Pre-Trial Detention Center.

Second, do not make any statements about the facts of your case to anyone at the Atlanta Pre-Trial Detention Center. This is not the time to plead your innocence. Your sole focus should be on getting out on bond.

You’ve been taken to the Atlanta Pre-Trial Detention Center because your case is going to be beginning in the City of Atlanta Municipal Court. The City of Atlanta Municipal Court has jurisdiction (or responsibility) in handling all traffic offenses, some state law misdemeanors including possession of marijuana, theft by shoplifting, and disorderly conduct; and all City of Atlanta ordinance violations.

You are entitled to a bond on all of these charges. Your bond will be set after first appearing in front of a Judge in most circumstances. City of Atlanta holds first appearance hearings Sunday through Friday. They do not hold first appearance hearings on Saturday, so if you’ve been arrested after first appearance on Friday, you may have to wait until Sunday to go in front of the Judge to get a bond.

The City of Atlanta Judge is required to consider four factors when setting a bond.

  1. Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;
  2. Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community;
  3. Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial;
  4. Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.

There are several types of bonds available for your case.

  1. Cash Bond: The first option in the City of Atlanta is to pay a cash bond. This means that you pay the entire bond yourself. The benefit to this bond is that it is refundable to you once you resolve your case.
  2. Bail Bondsman: The second option is to call a bonding company. You will pay between 10% – 15% of the total bond to the bonding company. The bonding company will then post the entire bond and you will be released. This 10% – 15% is non-refundable. The City of Atlanta jail will provide you with a list of approved bonding companies.
  3. Signature Bond: In certain circumstances you will be released on Signature bond. A signature bond means you are signing your own bond, promising to appear in court on the next scheduled date.

If you or your loved one is arrested and taken to the Atlanta Pre-Trial Detention Center, please contact us any time and we can assist you in helping get a bond set.

Our office is located in downtown Atlanta at 100 Peachtree Street, Suite 2060, Atlanta, Georgia 30303. Feel free to call us at 404-581-0999 anytime day or night. Also, please go to our website at www.peachstatelawyer.com

 

 

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.

Serious Injury by Vehicle and Vehicular Homicide in Georgia

You have been charged in Georgia with Vehicular Homicide or Serious Injury by Vehicle.  There is no way to describe in detail everything that needs to be done in order to reach a successful outcome for a client charged with Vehicular Homicide or Serious Injury by Vehicle in Georgia.  As with every type of Georgia criminal defense case, each case is unique, and there will never be a one size fits all recommendation on how to proceed.

Vehicular Homicide in Georgia provides:

(a) Any person who, without malice aforethought, causes the death of another person through the violation of subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-163, Code Section 40-6-390 or 40-6-391, or subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-395 commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than three years nor more than 15 years.

(b) Any driver of a motor vehicle who, without malice aforethought, causes an accident which causes the death of another person and leaves the scene of the accident in violation of subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-270 commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than three years nor more than 15 years.

(c) Any person who causes the death of another person, without an intention to do so, by violating any provision of this title other than subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-163, subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-270, Code Section 40-6-390 or 40-6-391, or subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-395 commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the second degree when such violation is the cause of said death and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as provided in Code Section 17-10-3.

(d) Any person who, after being declared a habitual violator as determined under Code Section 40-5-58 and while such person’s license is in revocation, causes the death of another person, without malice aforethought, by operation of a motor vehicle, commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than five years nor more than 20 years, and adjudication of guilt or imposition of such sentence for a person so convicted may be suspended, probated, deferred, or withheld but only after such person shall have served at least one year in the penitentiary.”

The Georgia charge of Serious Injury by Vehicle provides “Whoever, without malice, shall cause bodily harm to another by depriving him of a member of his body, by rendering a member of his body useless, by seriously disfiguring his body or a member thereof, or by causing organic brain damage which renders the body or any member thereof useless through the violation of Code Section 40-6-390 or 40-6-391 shall be guilty of the crime of serious injury by vehicle. A person convicted under this Code section shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than 15 years.”

What do you do if you have been charged in Georgia with Vehicular Homicide or Serious Injury by Vehicle?  The answer is going to depend on several factors.  Lets assume for this discussion the accident occurred more than one week prior to you reading this post and less than six months.  The accident happened in Georgia and you already gave a statement to law enforcement as to your recollection.

First, you want to retain a Georgia lawyer that is qualified to handle vehicular homicide cases.  The lawyer’s job will be to recreate the accident scene, assist you with your time line, assist in preserving your recollection and assisting in the investigation from the defense’s perspective.  The most important role will be in collecting and preserving evidence for the investigation.  Examples include: preserving phone records, marks on the highway, weather conditions from the accident day, videos from near the scene and credit card receipts.  Further, the serious injury Georgia lawyer will be a good sounding board for questions and expectations.  The Georgia vehicular homicide attorney will likely put the client on a to-do list involving things to help prepare the case.  The vehicular homicide or serious injury attorney will facilitate hiring an investigator and experts.  The attorney will also want to walk through the scene with the client as soon as possible.

As with anyone facing vehicular homicide charges or serious injury by vehicle charges, one of your immediate concerns will be bond.  If you cannot post a bond on a vehicular homicide case you are going to have no ability to earn money which is very much needed in order to prepare your case.  Further, the cases generally take slightly longer before formal charges are brought as there is almost always an accident reconstruction done by the city, county or State of Georgia that takes time to complete.  The case will not be indicted or accused until the final police accident report is approved.  You will want to be released on a nominal bond with as little conditions as possible.  The consideration for bond are the same as general criminal cases.  They include, likelihood to appear in court when summoned, danger to the community to commit a new felony offense, likelihood of harassing or intimidating witnesses, and your ties to the community.  In some vehicular homicide cases I have handled Judges have required special conditions in order to be released.  They include no driving, no alcohol and a treatment program.

Additionally, in the majority of cases, the injured party themselves or their family in a vehicular homicide case will need to be contacted.  If the fault is clear and the remorse is genuine, you will want to make the injured party or parties aware of your apology.  This step was an integral part of several vehicular homicide cases I successfully defended.  One reason is the prosecutor has a duty to consider the injured victim(s) input on desired outcome.  This is a very sensitive time and you must handle the communication in an appropriate manner.

Lastly, you will want to stop talking about the case to friends, family, law enforcement.  You will want to not post items to social media as your account will be monitored by someone from law enforcement or the victim’s family.  Any statements you make can potentially be used against you.  In rare cases, where you already made a statement to law enforcement, but left out exculpatory (items tending to prove innocence) information, you will want to supplement your statement to law enforcement.  This statement will be made through your attorney after properly being vetted for accuracy and potential harm to your case.

If you or a loved one is facing a Vehicular Homicide or Serious Injury by Vehicle charge, it is important you have an experienced criminal defense attorney with the experience and skill necessary to fight this case. Call us today for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

Avondale Estates DUI Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been charged with an Avondale Estates DUI, contact our firm to speak with experienced DUI attorneys on how to best defend your case. Experienced Avondale Estates 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 Avondale Estates attorneys. W. Scott Smith has 18 years of DUI law under his belt, and 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 associates of W. Scott Smith, are  Avondale Estates DUI lawyers and have each successfully completed multiple advanced DUI seminars.

The address of Avondale Estates Court is 21 N. Avondale Road in Avondale Estates, Georgia. It is located in City Hall in Avondale Estates. This court handles all cases where defendants are charged with traffic misdemeanors and local ordinances within the City of Avondale Estates. Avondale Estates has its own police department, and so if you are arrested for a DUI in Avondale Estates by an Avondale Estates Police Officer, your case will begin in the Municipal Court.

If you have been arrested with a DUI in Avondale Estates, our lawyers are ready to fight to avoid a DUI conviction. We are a group of knowledgeable attorneys prepared to defend against your Avondale Estates DUI in order to best protect your freedom and your license. We are available 24/7 to speak with you about your Avondale Estates DUI at 404-581-0999.

City of Atlanta Municipal Court Practices and Procedure

by Ryan Walsh

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

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

Two of those methods are done through online searches:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Georgia Drivers License Suspension Rules after DUI Arrest

by Ryan Walsh

On July 1, 2017, the law changed in respect to administrative license suspensions after DUI arrests for drivers with a Georgia driver’s license under Georgia law.

In Georgia, an officer can petition the Department of Driver Services to suspend your driver’s license under the Georgia implied consent statute if the officer places you under arrest for Driving under the Influence (DUI), reads you the Georgia implied consent notice, and you either refuse to submit to the requested sample of your blood, breath, or urine, say nothing, or present a sample that is positive for alcohol at a level over .08, or shows the presence of drugs.

The officer must then issue to you a DS-1205 form stating the reason for the license suspension. This DS-1205 form acts in three ways. It is a notice of license suspension. It is a temporary driving permit. And it also informs you of your right to appeal this suspension of your driver’s license based on the Georgia implied consent law.

As of July 1, 2017, when you are arrested for DUI in Georgia and issued a DS-1205 form, that form now serves as a forty-five (45) day temporary driving permit. You have two options to proceed, and if you do nothing your Georgia driver’s license will be suspended at the end of 45 days.

Your first option is to use the old procedure to request a hearing. You have 30 days (not business days) to request a hearing regarding the suspension of your license by submitting a written request along with a money order for $150.00 to the Department of Driver Services. Requesting a hearing begins a process which is identical to the old method of Administrative License Suspension hearings with the same potential outcomes. We have writtentwo blogs outlining the old procedure which can be read here: http://www.peachstatelawyer.com/ds-1205-where-is-my-license-and-whats-this-piece-of-paper/ and http://www.peachstatelawyer.com/ds-1205-als-this-sheet-of-paper-is-nice-but-i-want-my-license-back-man/

Your second option is to forego asking for a hearing regarding the license suspension. Instead, you can apply for an ignition interlock device limited permit through the Department of Driver Services. To apply for a permit you must go to the Department of Driver Services and do the following things within thirty (30) days of receiving the DS-1205 form: (1) Install and maintain an ignition interlock device with a vendor of your own choosing for the twelve month period of your ignition interlock device limited permit. Once the Ignition Interlock Device is installed you can go to a Georgia DDS location and pay a $25.00 ignition interlock device limited permit fee, surrender your Georgia driver’s license, and execute an affidavit stating you waive your right to a hearing under the Georgia implied consent law to obtain an ignition interlock device limited permit.

Your permit will be revoked if you are convicted of a moving violation under the laws of the State of Georgia, if you have been found to have violated the terms of the limited driving permit, or you have been found to have tampered with the ignition interlock device.

You can only drive on your ignition interlock device permit for the following reasons: (1) to and from work along with performing the normal duties of your job, (2) receiving medical care or obtaining prescriptions, (3) attending school, (4) attending treatment, (5) attending court ordered driver education, (6) attending court, (7) attending community service, (8) taking a family member to work, school, or a medical appointment, (9) court ordered activities, and (10) visiting the ignition interlock provider monthly.

At the time you apply for your Ignition Interlock permit you waive your right to a hearing challenging the administrative license suspension. You must be over 21 and have a Georgia driver’s license to apply for an ignition interlock device permit. You will not be given a permit if you have a DUI conviction on your record with an arrest date within the past five years. Applying for an interlock permit will remove your CDL status if you have a commercial driver’s license.

If you choose to go the Ignition Interlock Device Permit route, you must have the ignition interlock device installed within ten days of receiving the permit. The device must be installed for a minimum of 120 days. You cannot drive any vehicle that does not have an ignition interlock device installed on it. If your case is resolved with a disposition that is not DUI while you have an ignition interlock device permit, you must remain on the permit for the entire twelve months unless you gave an implied consent sample on a DUI alcohol case. Refusal cases must continue on the permit for the entire twelve months, even if their case is dismissed or reduced.

Time spent on an ignition interlock device permit is credited towards any driver’s license suspension for a DUI conviction. You must pay a $100 reinstatement fee at the expiration of your ignition interlock device permit to reinstate your full driving privileges.

These rules are a significant departure from the longstanding procedures regarding Georgia driver’s licenses after DUI arrests. Call us today at 404-581-0999 if you have any questions about your drivers license.