My lawyer told me they are hoping to get my DUI reduced. What can I do to help?

You may not know it, but you can play a huge role in helping your lawyer get the best deal possible for you in your DUI case. Many people assume that in their criminal case, they are at the mercy of the lawyers on both sides, and that they just have to wait until they hear something about an offer or a court date. This is not so. You have lots of power to affect the outcome of your case by being proactive and taking steps to complete required or recommended conditions for folks facing a DUI charge. Taking charge of your case by taking the following steps shows the solicitor that you are proactive and cooperative, and illustrates to the judge that you are taking the charges seriously and you want to handle the case quickly and responsibly. So, what can you do?

  1. Think about enrolling in a DDS-certified DUI School or Risk Reduction Class. There are dozens of convenient locations all over the state to choose from. The class is 20 hours long, and it costs $260 to enroll in the course. Many locations allow the class to be taken virtually or on weekends, so you should be able to easily find a location and time that works with your schedule. Click the following link for more information on finding a Risk Reduction class near you. Make sure that you provide the Certificate of Completion to your defense attorney or to the solicitor at your court date to show them that you have already started taking steps to handle your case. https://online.dds.ga.gov/ddsgeorgiagov/locations/certified-dui-schools.aspx
  2. Take a Defensive Driving class. DDS requires those who have been convicted of DUI to take a 6-hour certified Defensive Driving Class, and completion of the class is oftentimes a condition to getting a solicitor to agree to reduce your DUI charge to reckless driving or another lesser charge. The class is 6 hours and costs $95. Even if you have not been charged with DUI, but you have lots of points on your license, taking this class can remove up to 7 points from your license and reduce the cost of a traffic fine by up to 20%. This class also provides participants who complete the course with a Certificate of Completion that you can provide to your attorney or the solicitor in Court. Click the following link to see schools in your area: https://online.dds.ga.gov/ddsgeorgiagov/locations/driver-improvement-schools.aspx
  3. Talk to a professional and have an alcohol and/or drug evaluation. If you have been charged with DUI in Georgia, solicitors often want to make sure that there is not an underlying substance abuse issue. Reach out to mental health professionals in your area and make an appointment with a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. They will have you in to discuss your use of drugs and/or alcohol, and make a recommendation if they believe that, based on your discussions, you need treatment to address alcohol or drug use. Be honest with your counselor so that they can make the best treatment recommendation for you that they can. If you have been recommended treatment, go ahead and begin that recommended treatment. Taking that step to improve your relationship with drugs and/or alcohol can be empowering, and it shows the Court that you recognize that you may have an unhealthy habits, but that you are taking steps to improve your mental and physical wellbeing. We know several excellent professionals if you need any help getting started. Feel free to give us a call at the number below.

We attorneys work hard to make your experience smooth and efficient, but it may feel like your case is moving slowly, and distant court dates can hang over you and weigh you down. Checking one or two of the above items off of your list can help to expedite your case, ensure you get a better offer, and can empower you. You are as much a part of your case as the attorney, and we want you to be involved! We have access to resources and information to help you get through this. We want to help. If you have any questions, please contact our office at (404)-581-0999.

DUI IN GWINNETT RECORDER’S COURT

After the accused has been arrested for a DUI, if one of the following occurred, the accused MUST send the 30-day appeal letter to attempt to save his/her driver’s license:

  1. After the accused has been arrested, an officer on scene read him/her the correct “Implied Consent” notice and he/she refused to comply with either a blood, breath, or urine test in order to determine his/her blood alcohol content, OR
  2. The accused consented to a blood, breath, or urine test and the results showed that the blood alcohol content of the accused was 0.08 grams or more.

If one of the following occurred, it is of vital importance to send the 30-day appeal of the license suspension letter prior to the deadline or risk the suspension of the accused person’s driver’s license. The suspension could last as long as 1 year.

After sending the 30-day letter, the accused must also be ready to defend his/her criminal allegations. The penalties for a DUI conviction are serious, thus, it is imperative to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands all the elements of the offense, the affirmative defenses to such a charge, and all possible options for the accused.

According to O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391, a person commits driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs when it renders them less safe to drive, the person’s alcohol concentration is 0.08 grams or more at any time within 3 hours after such driving occurred, or there is any amount of marijuana or other controlled substances present in the accused person’s blood, breath, or urine.

Once the Gwinnett County Police Department or the Georgia State Patrol, depending on the department that arrested the accused, transfers the criminal charge to the Gwinnett County Recorder’s Court, the criminal case will begin at a proceeding known as an arraignment. There are a few options when the case has landed on an arraignment calendar. Such options include:

  • The accused may plead guilty to DUI, which for a first DUI conviction usually will result in 12 months of probation, as well as completion of a Risk Reduction course, at least 40 hours of community service, and a substance abuse evaluation.
  • The accused may plead not guilty to DUI and seek a bench trial with the Gwinnett County Recorder’s Court judge;
  • The accused may plead not guilty to DUI and seek a jury trial. This will result in the case being bound over to the Gwinnett County State Court; OR
  • At arraignment, the accused has the option to speak to the Gwinnett County solicitor in a pretrial conference to discuss other possible options, such as a reduction from the original DUI charge.

Due to the complexity of a driving under the influence criminal case, as well as the related license suspension proceeding, it is of great importance to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is skilled at defending such allegations. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our attorneys are knowledgeable about all possible options for our clients and have vast experience defending such charges. Therefore, if you have been arrested for driving under the influence in Gwinnett County, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Georgia DUI: How many points in a DUI?

In Georgia, a driver’s license will be automatically suspended if engaged in serious traffic violations. Therefore, a DUI does not accumulate any points on your driving record, also called a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) but carries immediate consequences. For a first DUI conviction (for drivers over the age of 21), your license will be suspended for 12 months by DDS (Georgia Department of Driver Services).

 

Ways a driver can reinstate their license after six months:

  • Your license has already been suspended for 120 days;
  • Completion of a state-approved Risk Reduction Program; and
  • Submit a $210 fine for license reinstatement fees.

Note that this reinstatement will depend on your driving history and will permit you to drive to and from work and school and other permissible places.

 

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.

Georgia Marijuana DUI

According to Georgia’s DUI statute as it relates to marijuana and other drugs, a person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while they are under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive. O.C.G.A. 40-6-391. This means that the prosecution must prove, beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt, that the driver charged with DUI Drugs was impaired by marijuana or any other controlled substance. This standard is difficult for the prosecution to establish.

There are numerous governmental studies that have analyzed whether it can be determined from a blood or urine test, as well as from field sobriety tests, whether an officer can find that a driver was in fact impaired based on consumption of marijuana or other drugs. According to a 2017 congressional study, traditional law enforcement tools related to detecting drivers impaired by marijuana, and most other drugs, is significantly less valid or effective as those developed for alcohol. NHTSA, Marijuana Impaired Driving: A Report to Congress, 2017. In this study, it found that there was a poor correlation between THC concentrations in the blood and impairment. It concluded that a blood or urine sample from the driver, which tested the presence and amount of marijuana consumption, was not a reliable indicator of impairment. It further stated that there is not a reliable test used to determine how an average person eliminates drugs from the body as there is for alcohol. Therefore, an experienced criminal defense attorney could successfully defend a charge of DUI Drugs by arguing that a blood or urine test is not reliable to prove that the driver was in fact impaired.

Another possible defense for an attorney defending a DUI Drugs case is tolerance. In general, field sobriety tests, used by officers to determine whether a driver is under the influence while operating a motor vehicle, are sensitive to the effects of THC depending on dose and marijuana use history. The tolerance defense also can be used for most other drugs, as well as for alcohol. However, unlike for alcohol, field sobriety evaluations do little, if anything, to aid law enforcement in correctly identifying drivers who are impaired by drugs. Furthermore, low doses of marijuana for heavy cannabis users would not affect field sobriety test performance. W.M. Bosker, A Placebo-Controlled Study to Assess SFST Performance During Alcohol and Cannabis Intoxication in Heavy Cannabis Users, 2012. Additionally, many experts have found that human beings vary wildly in their sensitivity to marijuana, as well as for other drugs. See Love v. State, 271 Ga. 398 (1999). Without understanding exactly what phase and how the body is reacting to the drug, any assumption of the amount of the drug in the body would be a guess, and likely, not even an educated one at that. Furthermore, there are numerous factors that could determine how marijuana or other drugs will affect the driver, such as body size, gender, age, genetics, dosage, tolerance, etc. Thus, without knowing the full picture, any blood, urine test, or field sobriety evaluation would not be reliable and could not be applied in a fair and efficient manner that could justly convict a driver of DUI Drugs.

Therefore, it is of vital importance to hire a criminal defense attorney who understands these potential defenses, as well as the deficiencies of traditional law enforcement tools related to DUI detection. Here, at the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, we are very experienced in the area of DUI Drugs, we understand the potential defenses, as well as all of your possible options. If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI Drugs, please call our office at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

 

 

Georgia DUI by Driver with Out of State License

A Georgia DUI arrest is a serious issue, even, and perhaps especially, for out-of-state drivers. Not only can a mere DUI arrest affect your ability to drive in Georgia, a conviction of DUI can also be reported to your home state and cause a driver’s license suspension. This article will discuss the implications of a DUI arrest and conviction for drivers licensed outside the state of Georgia.

Administrative License Suspension Upon an Arrest

The administrative license suspension (ALS) process begins when the arresting officer takes your driver’s license and issues you a “1205 Form” which acts as a 45 day driving permit upon a DUI arrest. DDS must receive a copy of the 1205 Form from law enforcement before a hearing can be scheduled or a limited driving permit can be issued.

Despite the arrest, the driver’s license is still valid until DDS receives the 1205 Form and 45 days have passed since the 1205 Form was served. The suspension is “pending” once DDS receives the 1205 form until the outcome of the administrative hearing.

There are two approaches to dealing with an administrative license suspension: (1) request a hearing to appeal the suspension; or (2) elect to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. DDS must receive the request for a hearing or application for an ignition interlock permit within 30 actual days (not business days) of the service of the 1205 Form.

Failure to timely file or losing an ALS hearing will cause your driving privileges in Georgia to be suspended in GA (for how long depends on whether you refused the request for a chemical test under the implied consent warning). Importantly, your home state may adopt this suspension for your out-of-state license.

Criminal Conviction Suspension

O.C.G.A. § 40-5-63 provides for the terms and conditions governing the driver’s license suspension for any person convicted of DUI. Upon the first conviction, the suspension period is for 12 months. For drivers licensed in Georgia, you can get a limited driving permit by receiving an “Affidavit of First Conviction” from the sentencing judge which will allow you to drive for certain limited purposes.

However, Georgia law only allows for the DUI suspension of a Georgia driver’s license.  Therefore, technically, an out-of-state driver can only have their privilege to drive in Georgia suspended by a sentencing court.

So, to the extent a Georgia driver is able to obtain a limited driving permit, an out-of-state driver does not qualify for such permit. Furthermore, Georgia will report the suspension to authorities in your home state which may have greater license suspension penalties for DUI than Georgia.

Contact Us

If you or someone you know has been arrested, contact the law firm of W. Scott Smith at 404.581.0999 today for a free case evaluation. You’ll find a local Atlanta attorney ready to aggressively fight on your behalf. You can also find out more detailed information about Atlanta laws here.

Smyrna, GA DUI Defense Attorney

Smyrna, Georgia is home to the Smyrna Municipal Court where Solicitor Tim Williams prosecutors DUI, traffic, and marijuana cases made by the Smyrna Police Department. Judge Phyllis Gingrey Collins presides over the Smyrna Municipal Court which is located at 2800 King St SE, Smyrna, GA 30080.

 

One of the most common cases we see in Smyrna Municipal Court are people charged with Driving under the Influenc. In Georgia, DUI can be charged in either two ways under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391. Driving under the Influence Per Se means the State is charging the individual with being over the .08 legal limit for drivers over 21 years old. It is a .02 legal limit for DUI cases involving drivers under 21. The second way a DUI can be charged is DUI Less Safe. Under Georgia law, DUI Less Safe means the person is accused of driving under the influence to the extent they were a less safe driver. We typically see DUI Less Safe cases where there is no chemical test, or where there is a chemical test but it is below the legal limit.

 

There are numerous defenses to DUI to be explored and raised. A skilled DUI defense attorney must fiercely evaluate and raise issues starting at the purpose of the stop and ultimately the probable cause in making the arrest. Factors to be assessed are the performance of field sobriety tests if any were conducted, the lack of odor or admissions, and the driving that was observed. Additionally, the Implied Consent portion of the DUI case is highly relevant in DUI defense because in order for the chemical test to be admissible in Court, the proper Implied Consent must be read after arrest, and there must be true knowing and voluntary consent to submit to the chemical test. Under Georgia law, mere acquiescence to authority is not voluntary consent. It should be noted that any refusal to submit to breath testing following an arrest is deemed inadmissible evidence given the Georgia Constitution gives the right to decline incriminatory acts. This law was clarified and confirmed in Elliott v. State, 305 Ga. 179 (2019).

 

In all DUI defense cases, the mandatory minimum sentence is 24 hours in jail, 12 months on probation, a $300.00 fine plus court costs (nearly doubles it), 40 hours of community service, a Risk Reduction course, and an alcohol and drug evaluation and treatment if deemed necessary. The maximum sentence is 12 months in jail. DUI is a misdemeanor crime that goes onto your criminal history. In Georgia, DUI can never be expunged or restricted, and thus a conviction will remain on your history forever. A DUI charge also has intense license repercussions.  If there is a refusal on the chemical test, the Officer can suspend your license for at least a year. This must be challenged within 30 days of your arrest, so time is of the essence in DUI cases.

 

The options in Smyrna Municipal Court are to enter into pretrial negotiations with the goal of avoiding the harsh consequences of a DUI, or to enter a Not Guilty plea and send the case to the Cobb County State Court where motions and a trial can occur. As experienced DUI lawyers practicing in Smyrna regularly, we have the skill and knowledge to accomplish your goals both in Smyrna and in Cobb County. We are trial lawyers constantly staying on top of DUI law. If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI in Smyrna Municipal Court, call us now for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

Georgia DUI Lawyer – Peach County

If you have been charged with driving under the influence (“DUI”) in Peach County, you have come to the right place.  Our firm has a strong record at successfully defending all kinds of DUIs ranging from alcohol to marijuana to prescription drugs cases.  Peach County is known to aggressively patrol their roads and prosecute these DUI arrests, but their aggressiveness also leads to many wrongful arrests.

 

As with most DUIs, the initial stop of the vehicle is usually based on an alleged violation of some traffic law like speeding or failure to maintain lane.  A technical violation such as window tint or expired tag can also serve as the basis of the stop, but there’s nothing inherently unsafe about a technical violation. Therefore, a skilled defense attorney will argue that a technical violation is not evidence of impaired driving.  If someone is so impaired that they are unable to drive safely, then why is it that the officer could not find one single traffic infraction to support their assumption that you are impaired!?  A very reasonable theory is that you were not impaired, the officer made some false assumptions, and you should be found not guilty of DUI.  Piece of cake, right?  Well, there is actually a lot of training that goes into DUI detection, and your attorney needs to understand that training before he can skillfully use that training against the officer.  The law is constantly evolving, and the training that goes into DUI enforcement is updated every year or two.  So you need a lawyer who has performed the tests himself/herself (in a classroom setting), and you need the best possible DUI attorney in Peach County.

 

So if you have been charged with a DUI in Peach County, then you need to call our office today at 404-581-0999 for your free consultation.

Butts County Georgia DUI Lawyer

If you have been charged with driving under the influence (“DUI”) in Butts County, you have come to the right place.  Our firm has a strong record at successfully defending all kinds of DUIs ranging from alcohol to marijuana to prescription drugs cases.  Butts County is known to aggressively patrol their roads and prosecute these DUI arrests, but their aggressiveness also leads to many wrongful arrests.

As with most DUIs, the initial stop of the vehicle is usually based on an alleged violation of some traffic law like speeding or failure to maintain lane.  A technical violation such as window tint or expired tag can also serve as the basis of the stop, but there’s nothing inherently unsafe about a technical violation. Therefore, a skilled defense attorney will argue that a technical violation is not evidence of impaired driving.  If someone is so impaired that they are unable to drive safely, then why is it that the officer could not find one single traffic infraction to support their assumption that you are impaired!?  A very reasonable theory is that you were not impaired, the officer made some false assumptions, and you should be found not guilty of DUI.  Piece of cake, right?  Well, there is actually a lot of training that goes into DUI detection, and your attorney needs to understand that training before he can skillfully use that training against the officer.  The law is constantly evolving, and the training that goes into DUI enforcement is updated every year or two.  So you need a lawyer who has performed the tests himself/herself (in a classroom setting), and you need the best possible DUI attorney in Butts County.

So if you have been charged with a DUI in Butts County, then you need to call our office today at 404-581-0999 for your free consultation.

Criminal Defense in Newton County, Georgia

If you have been charged with a crime in Newton County, then you have come to the right place.  We specialize in criminal defense and stand ready to defend you.  The first question that needs to be answered is where your case will be heard.  If you are charged with a felony, then your case will begin in magistrate court and finish in superior court.  The first appearance, initial bond hearing, and preliminary hearing are all heard by a magistrate judge at the Newton County Jail located at 15151 Alcovy Road, Covington, GA 30014.  After these initial hearings, your case will be transferred to Newton County Superior Court in the Newton County Judicial Center located at 1132 Usher St, Covington, GA 30014.  The Judicial Center also houses the Magistrate Court, Juvenile Court, and Probate Court of Newton County.

Unlike some of the larger metropolitan counties, Newton County does not have a state court so even misdemeanor offenses will be heard in the Superior Court.  If you are charged with a serious misdemeanor, then your case will go straight to Superior Court.  Otherwise, your case will likely begin in Newton County Probate Court or one of the three municipalities in Newton County:  Covington, Porterdale, or Oxford.  

If you are charged with a traffic ticket or low-level misdemeanor within the city limits of Covington, your case will begin in the Municipal Court of Covington located at 1143 Oak Street, Covington, GA 30015.

If you are charged with a traffic ticket or low-level misdemeanor within the city limits of Porterdale, your case will begin in the Municipal Court of Porterdale located at 2800 Main Street, Porterdale, GA 30014.

If you are charged with a traffic ticket or low-level misdemeanor within the city limits of Oxford, your case will begin in the Municipal Court of Oxford located at 110 West Clark Street, Oxford, GA 30054.

If you have been charged with a crime in Newton County, call us today at 404-581-0999 to ensure you get the best outcome possible.

Henry County Georgia DUI Attorney

            If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI in Henry County, you may be wondering what will happen next. Upon being arrested for DUI in Henry County (or given a citation if incident occurred during COVID-19), the first matter to focus on is your ability to continue driving. Within 30 days of your arrest, certain decisions must be made in order to preserve your right to drive during the pendency of your DUI case. You will need to either submit what is known as an Administrative License Appeal (“30 day letter”) or opt for an Ignition Interlock Permit. Several factors, including whether or not there was a chemical test taken, go into the decision of which route to go. An experienced DUI defense attorney will guide you to make the best decision for your individual circumstance.

            Your case will begin in either Henry County State Court, or one of the local Municipal Courts (Stockbridge, McDonough, Hampton, or Locust Grove). The first court date that occurs in a Henry County DUI case is your Arraignment date. At your arraignment, you will be given the option to enter a Not Guilty plea to the charges. It is imperative you have a DUI Defense Attorney at this stage as the Arraignment date triggers certain deadlines. Under Georgia law, a Motion to Suppress must be filed within 10 days of Arraignment. This means that in order to preserve arguments of suppressing blood, breath, or urine tests, or incriminating statements made to law enforcement, that a Motion to Suppress must be filed, or the ability to argue it later is waived.

            Following the Arraignment will come the Discovery process where the State will serve its evidence including any police reports, body cam and dash cam footage, and results of any chemical test. The Defense will be doing its own investigation and analysis in the case in preparation for a Motions hearing, Pretrial Negotiations, and Trial. The Law Office of W. Scott Smith will appear at all hearings to protect your rights and defend you. We fight for you and come up with a comprehensive strategy to accomplish your goals in your DUI case in Henry County.

If you or a loved one is facing a Henry County DUI, do not go through it alone. Jail time, license suspension, and lengthy probation sentences are all at stake in a DUI case. A guilty conviction lasts forever in the State of Georgia, and can never be expunged.

Attorney W. Scott Smith is the Founder and Principal of the W. Scott Smith P.C. law firm in Atlanta, Georgia. Scott has been recognized as one of the best criminal defense attorneys in the State and he and his firm are leaders in DUI and Drug related cases. The lawyers of W. Scott Smith routinely are invited to speak to other lawyers on DUI-related topics and have handled hundreds of Henry County DUI cases. Call us today for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.