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.


DUI Refusal Reaches the Supreme Court

SUPREME COURT UPDATE:  Can they charge me with a crime for refusing the breath test?

On April 20, 2016, the Supreme Court heard argument on Birchfield v. North Dakota.  The case addressed the question of whether a State can criminalize the refusal to submit to a chemical test of blood, breath, or urine without a warrant.   In both Minnesota and North Dakota, it is a separate crime to refuse to take the State chemical test.   Prosecutors for both the State of Minnesota and the State of North Dakota argued that an officer’s request for a breath sample without a warrant protects against evidence spoiling (BAC dropping over a period of time).  Interestingly, the Supreme Court Justice’s peppered both lawyers with factual scenarios about the reality that, with today’s technological capabilities, it is fairly easy for a police officer to contact a magistrate judge to obtain a warrant.   Interestingly, the Justices did not focus all of their tough questions towards the State.  It appears that the Justices had significant feelings about the minimally invasive nature of a breath test in comparison with a blood test.  There also seemed to be some confusion about the use of a roadside portable breath test versus a State administered breath test at the jail.

Georgia currently does not have a criminal penalty for refusing to take the State administered breath test.  Instead, Georgia law allows officers to request a civil penalty (loss of your license for 12 months) for refusing to take the State administered blood/breath/urine test.   However, the decision of the Supreme Court will almost certainly impact Georgia DUI cases going forward.   If the court were to side with the defendants in this case, we certainly can expect the opinion to express strong 4th amendment language that could impact other types of DUI cases.   On the other hand, if the court were to side with the State of Minnesota and North Dakota, we can expect other States, Georgia included, to introduce legislation that would criminalize the refusal of a State administered test.

Our lawyers will be watching closely when the Supreme Court releases their opinion this fall.  For more information about the case, check out the oral arguments at:   and

We will certainly provide an update when the Supreme Court releases their final ruling.

Miranda Rights


By Andrew Powell Esq.

Almost everyone has seen a crime television show and heard the infamous phrase “you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law, you have the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford one an attorney would be appointed to you.” However, most people do not know when or why this phrase is so commonly used by police. In 1966, the United States Supreme Court decided to require law enforcement officials to read this list of rights to someone who has been taken into custody. These rights are known commonly as your “Miranda Rights.”

Purpose Of Reading The Miranda Rights

The United States Constitution and specifically the Fifth Amendment guarantees anyone who has been arrested the right not to incriminate themselves. Plainly put, an individual does not have to talk to police when they have been arrested. The Constitution and our form of justice requires that the government carry their burden and prove to a judge or jury that someone charged with a crime is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.georgia-juvenile-defense

Too often law enforcement officials become overzealous with their search for the truth and overstep the Constitutional bounds in their pursuit. It may not surprise you that police use coercive tactics or even lie to someone to get them to confess to a crime. Miranda warnings are a safeguard to protect against those who may cross that Constitutional boundary. The government must show the court that you were read your Miranda rights and that you waived your rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

When Does Miranda Apply To Me?

Confessions are the leading source of Miranda violations. When someone has been accused of a crime, big or small, they are often questioned in connection with that crime. Miranda rights must be read to someone after they are under arrest and before any law enforcement official asks any questions to the suspect.  Law enforcement officials have a tough job and they investigate crimes every day. Many officers are trying to make quick decisions based on little information. However, this does not allow them to just simply force people to talk to them and answer their questions.

Many times law enforcement officials will arrest someone and take them back to the police station for an interview. Generally, they will quickly go over your rights with you and ask you if you want to talk to them. If you have been charged with a crime this is where you want to stop and tell the law enforcement official that you would like to speak to your attorney.

When Does Miranda Not Apply To Me?

People sometimes think that any encounter with law enforcement requires them to read you your Miranda rights. This is untrue. Most encounters between people and law enforcement do not require the reading of your Miranda rights. As discussed above, the Miranda warnings are only required when you have been placed under arrest and the police are asking you questions regarding the crime.

Traffic stops are a common place to have an encounter with law enforcement where Miranda warnings are not required to be read to someone. In this circumstance, generally you are not under arrest and law enforcement is just going to ask you some general questions and write you a ticket.

In terms of a DUI, the police officer is not required to read the Miranda warnings. The officer may ask you to take a series of tests, known as Field Sobriety Tests or request you to blow into a machine that registers your blood alcohol content. Even though the officer does not have to read your Miranda rights to you, you have the ability to refuse these tests and refuse giving a breath sample.

Another common scenario is when law enforcement asks you to come to the station and make a statement. In this circumstance, Miranda warnings are not necessary because you have voluntarily come to the police station and are not under arrest. Remember, law enforcement is only required to give you the Miranda warnings once you have been arrested and before they initiate any questioning of you.

What Does A Miranda Violation Mean For Me?

Confessions or statements made to law enforcement will not be allowed at trial if law enforcement has not, first, read you the warnings required in Miranda. If you were forced into making a statement or the police did not read your rights to you and you then confess to a crime, whether it is a DUI or murder, that confession cannot be used against you at your trial. With your statement or confession tossed out it can help strengthen your case and possibly force the prosecutor’s office to drop the charges because they do not have enough evidence to prosecute you.

If you have been charged with crime and feel your rights were violated during the process, call our office and we can help you navigate the system. Our office has extensive experience in misdemeanors and felonies. Fighting charges with an attorney’s help is important because any conviction on your record will greatly reduce the possibility of having future charges lowered or dismissed. At the W. Scott Smith law firm we can identify where the police have violated your rights and ensure evidence will be kept out. Our firm can handle your misdemeanor or felony case with the expertise you need to save your record. Give us a call for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.

Move Over Law



By Mary Agramonte J.D.

Georgia’s “move over” law is designed to keep officers, emergency workers, and first responders safe when they are stopped on the side of the road with their emergency lights flashing. The law was passed in 2003 to reduce the number of police officer and HERO fatalities that were occurring due to traffic crash responses. The “move over” law saves lives and makes sense, but unfortunately, too many Georgia motorists are unaware that it exists until they are slapped with a $500 fine.

Under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-16, Georgia law requires drivers to move over to the next lane if safely possible when passing a stationary emergency vehicle, towing vehicle, or recovery vehicle when their lights are flashing. If moving over is absolutely impossible, the law requires you to slow down to below the speed limit and be prepared to stop your car if necessary. Violations can result in a fine of $500 for the first offense. Once you factor in the court costs, however, this can put you well above $500, even if this was your first offense, and even if you had never heard of the law. Paying the fine on your citation means you are admitting you are guilty to the offense which raises a number of consequences.


Mary Agramonte has her Juris Doctorate from Georgia State University.

A violation of this statute could cost you much more than the fine itself. A conviction for this traffic offense will also add 3 points to your driving record, and it will stay on your record forever. A driver who is over the age of 21 is allotted 15 points in a 24 month period before the Department of Driver Services will suspend a driver’s license. Points on your record also subject you to higher car insurance rates because your insurer believes you are more likely to file a claim than someone with lower points on their record. Getting just one traffic ticket can boost an average person’s auto insurance premiums by as much as 22 percent.

Additionally, violating Georgia’s move over law can be a basis for an officer to stop your vehicle which can lead to even more serious charges. Under both the Georgia and the United States Constitutions, an officer needs “reasonable articuable suspicion” to justify pulling your vehicle over for an investigative stop. Violating this statute gives the officers that power to stop you and investigate you, which ultimately can lead to a DUI arrest or the investigation of other potential and more serious crimes.

To avoid these repercussions of violating Georgia’s move over law, always drive attentively and don’t risk being pulled over or injuring the emergency workers on the side of road. If you see lights ahead, do all that you can to safely move over. If moving over safely is impossible, remember to slow down below the speed limit when passing emergency lights, and be prepared to stop. It can save lives, and it can save you money and the hassle.

If you have been charged with a violation of Georgia’s move over law, call our office and we can help you navigate the system. Our office has extensive experience in traffic violations and DUI defense. Fighting traffic tickets with an attorney’s help is important because any conviction on your record will greatly reduce the possibility of having future citations lowered or dismissed. Our firm can handle your traffic ticket case with the experience you need to save your record. Give us a call for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.


The Prosecution Overcharged My Case!

            I have seen the prosecution overcharge cases on multiple occasions.  The prosecutor’s office will, at times, define your alleged conduct as something much worse than it is.  A misdemeanor will be elevated to a felony, for example, or a felony will be charged as one carrying much more punishment than it should.  That doesn’t sound like truth and justice, does it?

There can be several reasons for a case to be overcharged.  Until defense lawyers get involved, the prosecutors (who are human beings) hear only one side of the story.  The police or the complaining witnesses unload with their side and the prosecutor doesn’t hear a word to the contrary.  And, unfortunately, defense lawyers may not be involved until the case has already been accused or indicted.  (There are exceptions…especially when the lawyer is hired early in the process and there is some form of evidence to support an opposing position).  So, acting only on the word or evidence given by the complainant, the prosecutor files the accusation or indicts the case.  It is extremely important for the lawyer to be thorough when talking to the client and finding out, in detail, what the facts of the case are.

Another reason that cases might be overcharged is that the prosecution is already thinking ahead to plea bargaining.  One prosecutor explicitly told me that he added the biggest charge in the indictment in hopes that he would work a plea to the lesser charges without too much hassle.

Sad?  I think so.  I am convinced that the anxiety people experience leading up to the disposition of the case is twice as bad as whatever punishment may be inflicted.  So many of my clients have suffered long, sleepless nights, loss of their jobs, broken relationships, substance abuse, and many other side effects of being charged with a crime (please note that I did not say convicted of a crime).  That is yet another reason to go early in the process to talk with a lawyer who believes in the presumption of innocence and who treats each client like a unique, special human being.  We take on the burden of your case for you.  We provide you with honest feedback that can give you peace about the situation and, hopefully, enable you to think about everything else going on in your life.  I like to think that my clients are able to dump the burden of the pending case on me and put their time and energy towards their kids, their jobs, their significant other, their hobbies, and everything else going on in their lives.

In my next blog, I will discuss some ways to combat overcharging by the State.

Always feel free to call us with any questions about your case.  You will get to speak with an attorney free of charge.  (404) 581-0999.



Every year, thousands of Georgians celebrate the dawning of a New Year by enjoying the several New Year’s parties around town.  As we all know, those parties often include music, food, and alcohol.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, New Year’s Day is the second most deadly day for drivers with an average of 140 deaths related to alcohol.  Because of this, law enforcement agencies throughout the State set up DUI checkpoints to prevent drunk drivers from getting into accidents.   We certainly advise that you find a safe ride home on New Year’s Day.  But if you find yourself at a DUI checkpoint, it’s important to know your rights before the Officer mistakes you for a dangerous driver.


DUI checkpoints are often set up in two stages.   The first stage is an initial screening stage.   Here, a DUI trained officer will check for some of the common physical manifestations of a person who is driving under the influence.  Often, we see police reports that include the initial screening officer smelling the odor of alcohol coupled with bloodshot and watery eyes.  The DUI officer is also looking for the driver’s behavior.  Particularly, the DUI Officer is looking to see if the person is being belligerent or combative.

It’s important to remember to always be polite in these situations.  If the DUI Officer becomes agitated with the way you respond to his questions, then you’ll likely find yourself at the DUI checkpoint much longer than you would expect.   The Officer will likely ask you how much you’ve had to drink.  If you’ve only had one beer then it’s ok to let the Officer know that.   In Georgia, it is not illegal to consume alcohol and drive.  However, it is illegal to consume alcohol the extent you become a less safe driver.  So, the fact that you have had one beer does not automatically mean you’ve broken the law.


The DUI Officers are trained to instruct drivers to the second stage of the checkpoint if they feel there is enough evidence to continue a DUI investigation.  The second stage will often include a second DUI Officer who will almost certainly request the driver to perform field sobriety testing.  As we’ve discussed in the past, field sobriety testing is weighed heavily against the driver.  For example, the walk and turn evaluation is one of the three standardized field sobriety tests.  The evaluation includes a series of clues the Officer is trained to look for.  There are seventy-six opportunities for the driver to display a clue.  If the driver shows two of the seventy-six clues then that is enough for the Officer to establish someone are impaired.   More concerning is the initial studies on this examination showed only a 65% accuracy rate in optimal conditions.

Because of the unreliability of field sobriety testing, we always suggest to our client to refuse any field sobriety testing.  The chances of the Officer making a mistake are extremely high and the consequences to the driver can be drastic.   Finally, if the DUI Officer feels there is enough evidence obtained from all of the interactions then he or she will make an arrest.

As I mentioned earlier, the easiest way to avoid a DUI is call a cab or have a sober driver.  Personally, I’ve found the car service Uber to be fantastic.  But, sometimes we find ourselves in difficult circumstances.

If you or a friend ends up getting charged with DUI on New Year’s Day please contact the office immediately at 404-581-0999.   Our lawyers will be on call and available to for a free consultation.

Peach State Lawyers trial victory!

In my first blog post, Peach State Lawyer Daniel Farnsworth wants to be the first to congratulate our co-worker, colleague, and good friend Peach State Lawyer Michael Murphy on his first jury trial victory.  This is the first of many more trial victories to come for Michael.

Here are the details:

Peach State Lawyer Michael Murphy, went to trial this week against an experienced Dekalb County DUI Task Force Officer.   Michael was faced with the challenge of showing the Field Sobriety Tests that the Officer performed did NOT show that his client was impaired.   The Officer exhibited a tremendous amount of knowledge and training with regard to the Field Sobriety Tests while testifying for the State.   The State relied heavily on the three tests that were administered.   Like many DUI Task Force Officers, the Officer was able to articulate the meaning of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the Walk and Turn test, and the One Leg Stand test.   However, on cross-examination, Michael was able to use his own training to show the jury that not only did his client look great on video, but the tests that his client took were designed for him to fail.   The jury deliberated for a total of three minutes before coming back with a NOT GUILTY verdict.