DUI Probation in Hall County

If you are entering a plea to a DUI in Hall County, under Georgia law, there are certain penalties which the Court must impose when you enter your guilty plea.

According to Georgia Law, O.C.G.A. 40-6-391, if you plead guilty to DUI, the Court must:

  • Assess a fine of not less than $300 (but not more than $1,000
  • Sentence you to 24 hours imprisonment
  • Sentence you to complete 40 hours of community service at a 501(c)(3) organization
  • Require completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program
  • Require completion of a clinical evaluation for substance abuse treatment
  • Require you to serve 1 year on probation.

While on probation, you will also be responsible for paying any supervision fees, you will be regularly drug and alcohol screened, and if you commit any other crimes, you may face even stiffer penalties if your probation is revoked.

These sentencing requirements sound very serious (and they are!) but they are also very discretionary. Hall County judges have a lot of control over the sentence. For example, some judges will allow you to terminate your probation early if you complete any requirements of your sentence in a reasonable amount of time. Other judges will allow you to complete community service in lieu of paying a fine. Some judges will give you credit for any time served in jail at the time of your arrest, and other Hall County judges will not make you serve any time if you complete your probation requirements.

Entering a guilty plea to DUI in Hall County can be a tough pill to swallow. With the right attorney beside you, however, you will have your best chance of reducing the time and money spent on probation and incarcerated. Attorneys are able to present mitigating evidence for the Court’s consideration, and argue why the judge should withhold certain sentence requirements. If you are considering a guilty plea to DUI in Hall County, call our office first. We may be able to help you make the best of a bad situation, and ensure that you are only being sentenced to the absolute minimums. Call us for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

 

Written by Attorney Katherine Edmonds

Why do I have Multiple DUI charges??

If you are charged with DUI, you may have noticed that you do not have just 1 charge of driving under the influence, but you could be charged with several. But what does this mean and how does this affect you?

If you are charged with multiple counts of DUI stemming from the same incident, the most likely reason is because there is a chemical test of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substance which indicates a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 grams and/or at the time of the DUI stop, there were children under the age of 14 in the vehicle.

Generally when a prosecutor accuses a DUI, they will attempt to categorize the offense as as many different kinds of DUIs as they can. If your case does not have a chemical test, that is, you refused the State’s requested chemical test and no one sought a warrant either for your blood or from hospital records, you are likely charged with DUI Less Safe. In Georgia, the State does not have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your blood alcohol concentration was a 0.08 or above, merely that you were driving while you were under the influence of alcohol, and as a result of the alcohol consumed, you were a less safe driver. This means that the State does not have to have “proof” of your BAC, only that you had consumed some amount of alcohol.

However, if you consented to the officer’s requested chemical test or the officer sought a warrant for your blood, and the results of that test or blood draw indicated a BAC of 0.08 grams or more, you are likely charged with DUI Unlawful Alcohol Content, also referred to as DUI “per se.” This kind of DUI does require evidence of a defendant’s BAC, generally in the form of a scientific report.

If you are charged with both DUI Less Safe and DUI Per Se, think of them as two ways the State can attempt to prove the same charge. One is not any worse than the other, and a conviction of one results in the other being “merged,” that is, effectively dismissed. The penalties under law are the same for a DUI Less Safe and a DUI Unlawful Alcohol Content, and the effect on your license doesn’t change depending on whether you are convicted of one or the other. A DUI conviction is a DUI conviction.

If you are charged with one or both of the above-referenced kinds of DUIs, and an additional DUI charge, you may be looking at a charge of DUI Child Endangerment. You could be charged with this crime if, at the time of your DUI arrest, there was a child under 14 years of age in the vehicle. The most important thing about DUI Child Endangerment is that, unlike the other two kinds of DUI, it does not merge into a DUI. It counts as an entirely separate DUI upon conviction.

Here is an example: Jayme was arrested for DUI. His 10 year old son, Billy, 6 year old daughter, Sarah, and 14 year old nephew, Steven, are all in the car at the time. When he is arrested, he consents to the officer’s request that he submit to a State-administered chemical test of his blood. When the blood test comes back from the lab, it indicates a blood alcohol content of 0.10 grams. When Jayme goes to Court, he notices that he is charged with 4 counts of DUI: DUI Less Safe, DUI Unlawful Alcohol Content, and 2 counts of DUI Child Endangerment. Note that he could not be charged with a 5th count of DUI for his nephew, because Steven is 14 years old. At trial, Jayme is convicted on all counts. However when the Judge sentences Jayme, he is only sentenced as though he was convicted of 3 of the DUI counts, because the DUI Less Safe would merge into the DUI Unlawful Alcohol Content by operation of law. Again, note that unlike DUI Unlawful Alcohol Content and DUI Less Safe, the counts of DUI Child Endangerment do not merge, even upon conviction of multiple counts of the same. Thus, although the charges all come from one DUI investigation and arrest, they count as 3 separate and distinct convictions of DUI.

Don’t be like Jayme. If you are charged with DUI, call our office for a free consultation. 404-581-0999. Written by Attorney Katherine Edmonds.

Governor Kemp Signs Bill that will Enhance Penalties for Fleeing and Eluding in Cherokee County, Georgia

By: Attorney Erin Dohnalek

On April 25th, 2022, Governor Kemp signed legislation to further public safety efforts in the State of Georgia. One of the bills that he signed, which was passed in the House, as well as the Senate, will enhance or increase penalties and sentencing for individuals charged with fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer in Cherokee County. This bill went into effect on July 1st, 2022.

This bill states that:

  • It is unlawful for a driver to fail to stop his/her vehicle or attempt to flee or elude a police officer when he/she is given a visual or audible signal to stop.
  • Any person convicted of a first, second, or third violation of this law will be guilty of a high and aggravated misdemeanor.
  • Any person convicted of a fourth or subsequent violation of this law will be guilty of a felony.

Sentencing:

  • The penalties for a first conviction will be a fine of at least $1,000 and 30 days in jail.
  • The penalties for a second conviction within a 10-year period will be a fine of at least $2,500 and 90 days in jail.
  • The penalties for a third conviction within a 10-year period will be a fine of at least $4,000 and 180 days in jail.
  • The penalties for a fourth conviction, and any subsequent conviction, within a 10-year period will be a fine of at least $5,000 and 12 months in custody.

This bill will dramatically change the penalties for fleeing and eluding in Cherokee County. A high and aggravated misdemeanor generally means that the accused will have to serve the entire jail-sentence in custody without the possibility of receiving 2 for 1 credit. The fourth conviction of this crime in a 10-year period will constitute a felony offense. Furthermore, a nolo contendere plea will not avoid mandatory jail time, or a conviction.

Any arrests that occur prior to July 1st, 2022, in Cherokee County, for fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer will still be pursuant to the prior statute that allows for lower penalties and sentencing. However, if an accused is arrested for fleeing and eluding on, or after, July 1st, 2022, the sentencing will be enhanced pursuant to this new law.

Contact Us

Due to the severity of the punishment for fleeing and eluding based on this new legislation, 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 this new law, 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 fleeing or attempting to elude in Cherokee County, Georgia, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Super Speeder- Gwinnett

If you are driving 85 MPH or more on any road or highway OR driving 75mph or more on any two-lane road or highway in Georgia, you are deemed to be a ‘super speeder.’ What does that mean? It means that in addition to the local fines and fees you pay to resolve your ticket you will also have to pay an additional $200 super speeder fee to DDS. You have 90 days from the date of conviction (i.e paying ticket or entering a plea) to submit the payment to DDS. If you fail to pay the $200 fee within 90 days your license will be suspended.  If you or someone you know has been arrested with a super speeder ticket, having a lawyer fight your case can result in a better outcome. Contact the Law Office of Scott Smith today for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

Should I perform Field Sobriety Tests?

If you have been pulled over for DUI, the police officer may ask you if you would consent to field sobriety evaluations. Field Sobriety Evaluations are a series of tests which are, in theory, designed to aid officers draw accurate conclusions about a suspect’s blood alcohol consumption. Despite that these tests are only around 75% accurate when administered correctly, they are still thought of as legitimate tests of a person’s intoxication level by most judges and jurors. For this reason, allegedly “poor” performance on field sobriety tests can sway jurors to convict someone for DUI, even if they are not.

So is it in your best interests to perform field sobriety tests? This is a complicated question which will vary depending on the circumstances, but generally, it is better to refuse to participate in the field sobriety evaluations, as it provides the officer with less potentially incriminating evidence. It is important to bear in mind, however, that refusal to submit to field sobriety evaluations is admissible in trial as circumstantial evidence of intoxication. Taken together with other evidence of possible intoxication (slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, admission of drinking, etc.) may support an inference that the suspect was an impaired driver.

That being said, it is easier to make an argument that the officer got it wrong when they arrested you for DUI if the only evidence they have is the smell of alcohol on your breath and bloodshot eyes than if they have evidence of poor performance on field tests. Additionally, even if you refuse field sobriety tests, the officer still has the authority to arrest you. Georgia case law has held that an officer’s observation of bloodshot, watery eyes and odor of alcohol is sufficient to support an arrest for suspected DUI. If you are pulled over for DUI, even if you refuse field sobriety tests, do not be surprised if you are arrested anyway. Instead, stay calm, make no incriminating statements, and as soon as you are able, call an experienced DUI defense lawyer.

We offer free consultations to anyone who has been charged with driving under the influence. Call us today at 404-581-0999. Written by Attorney Katherine Edmonds.

What to expect during a DUI stop in Snellville, GA

By: Attorney Alex Henson

If you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol in Snellville, GA you might be pulled over and investigated by police. What can you expect during a DUI stop?

First, the officer might ask you if you’ve had anything to drink. You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer the question, but always be polite and respectful. Any statements you make could be used against you later in court.

Next, the officer might ask you to perform certain exercises to see if you are safe to drive. These exercises are called Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and your performance could be used against you in court later. The most common of these tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the one leg stand, and the walk and turn. It is voluntary to participate in field sobriety tests. Refusing to participate cannot be used against you in court later.

The officer may decide that you are under the influence and less safe to drive. If the officer decides to arrest you, he or she may read you Georgia’s implied consent statement and request chemical testing of your breath or blood. These tests are voluntary, but refusal can result in your license being suspended.

If you are arrested for DUI in Snellville, GA, your case will be sent to Snellville Municipal Court. In Municipal Court, you will have the opportunity to resolve your case. However, if you decide you want a jury trial, your case will be transferred to the State Court of Gwinnett County.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Snellville, GA and would like a free consultation, call us at (404) 581-0999.

 

What to expect during a DUI stop in Powder Springs, GA

By: Attorney Alex Henson

If you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol in Powder Springs, GA you might be pulled over and investigated by police. What can you expect during a DUI stop?

First, the officer might ask you if you’ve had anything to drink. You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer the question, but always be polite and respectful. Any statements you make could be used against you later in court.

Next, the officer might ask you to perform certain exercises to see if you are safe to drive. These exercises are called Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and your performance could be used against you in court later. The most common of these tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the one leg stand, and the walk and turn. It is voluntary to participate in field sobriety tests. Refusing to participate cannot be used against you in court later.

The officer may decide that you are under the influence and less safe to drive. If the officer decides to arrest you, he or she may read you Georgia’s implied consent statement and request chemical testing of your breath or blood. These tests are voluntary, but refusal can result in your license being suspended.

If you are arrested for DUI in Powder Springs, GA for DUI, your case will be sent to Powder Springs Municipal Court. In the Powder Springs Municipal Court, you will have the opportunity to resolve your case. However, if you decide you want a jury trial, your case will be transferred to the State Court of Cobb County.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Powder Springs, GA and would like a free consultation, call us at (404) 581-0999.

 

What to expect during a DUI stop in Canton, GA

By: Attorney Alex Henson

If you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol in Canton, GA you might be pulled over and investigated by police. What can you expect during a DUI stop?

First, the officer might ask you if you’ve had anything to drink. You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer the question, but always be polite and respectful. Any statements you make could be used against you later in court.

Next, the officer might ask you to perform certain exercises to see if you are safe to drive. These exercises are called Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and your performance could be used against you in court later. The most common of these tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the one leg stand, and the walk and turn. It is voluntary to participate in field sobriety tests. Refusing to participate cannot be used against you in court later.

The officer may decide that you are under the influence and less safe to drive. If the officer decides to arrest you, he or she may read you Georgia’s implied consent statement and request chemical testing of your breath or blood. These tests are voluntary, but refusal can result in your license being suspended.

If you are arrested for DUI in Canton, GA for DUI, your case will be sent to Canton Municipal Court. In the Canton Municipal Court, you will have the opportunity to resolve your case. However, if you decide you want a jury trial, your case will be transferred to the State Court of Cherokee County.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Canton, GA and would like a free consultation, call us at (404) 581-0999.

Racing on Highways – DeKalb County Lawyer

Street racing is considered a major traffic violation in Georgia. Since 2020, there have been a significant increase in Street Racing and Laying Drag tickets and arrests in DeKalb County, and the Atlanta Area. In response, police in DeKalb County have implemented a substantial effort to reduce street racing and laying drag on highways. This blog will explain in detail the law on Racing in Georgia.

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

What is the punishment of Racing in Georgia?

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

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

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

DUI IN LOVEJOY MUNICIPAL COURT

By: Erin Dohnalek

After an accused has been arrested for a DUI, if one of the following occurred, an 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 from the Lovejoy Police Department 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 above the legal limit.

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 of great importance to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands all of 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 .08 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 Lovejoy Police Department transfers the criminal charge to the Lovejoy Solicitor’s Office, the criminal case will begin at a proceeding known as an arraignment. There are a few options when the case has landed here at the Lovejoy Municipal Court. Such options include:

  • The accused may plead guilty to DUI, which, for a first DUI conviction, usually will result in 12 months of probation, which requires completion of a Risk Reduction course and at least 40 hours of community service;
  • The accused may plead not guilty to DUI and seek a bench trial with the municipal 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 Clayton County State Court, OR
  • At arraignment, the accused has the option to speak to the Lovejoy City 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, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.