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There seems be a misconception among the public when it comes to minimum sentencing on DUI convictions.  All criminal cases carry minimum sentencing (as well as maximum sentencing), but minimum means just that: it is the least sentence the judge can impose. The judge can (and often does), however, impose a higher sentence, and this is the area which causes confusion among some DUI defendants.

zero tolerance georgia

In Georgia, the minimum and maximum sentences depend on the number of DUI convictions the defendant has had in the past ten years. The current minimum sentences for DUIs in Georgia include:

1st DUI:  12 months of probation, $300 fine, 24 hours in jail, 40 hours of community service, and DUI School.

2nd DUI: 12 months of probation, $600 fine, 72 hours in jail, 240 hours of community service, DUI School, and alcohol and drug evaluation as well as treatment if recommended.

3rd DUI: 12 months of probation, $1000 fine, 15 days in jail, 240 hours of community service, DUI school, alcohol and drug evaluation and treatment if recommended, forfeiture of vehicle tags, and ignition interlock device.

The judge can impose a sentence of anything between the legal minimum and maximum, and this is a much larger range than most defendants realize. For example, the maximum sentence on a 1st or 2nd DUI includes 12 months in jail and a fine of $1000, and the maximum sentence on a 3rd DUI includes 12 months in jail and a fine of $5000.

Clearly, there is a degree of subjectivity in DUI sentencing. What the law doesn’t say, and what some inexperienced lawyers won’t tell you, is that most courts now look back at an entire lifetime, and the more DUI convictions you have, the more likely you are to receive a sentence that is closer to the maximum amount allowed by law. Most DUI defendants in Gwinnett County, for instance, receive MORE than 72 hours of incarceration on a 2nd DUI, and if you have multiple lifetime DUIs (even if NOT in the 10 year look-back period), you are more likely to serve between 30 and 180 days in jail. The same goes for most counties in the metro Atlanta area.

By correcting the assumption that DUI defendants should expect the minimum sentence, I hope to help Georgia drivers be more knowledgeable about their rights and to demonstrate that a DUI charge must be taken seriously. This is why it is important to hire a qualified, experienced DUI attorney, whether this is your first DUI arrest or the most recent of many—because the outcome of your case will impact you for years to come.

One of the many lessons I learned from my extensive experience as an Atlanta traffic lawyer is that all judges have their own way of making fair and law-based decisions, but that the “I didn’t know it was illegal” defense generally isn’t successful. It is the responsibility of each citizen to know the laws that apply to them, and to know their rights so they can protect themselves. In the interest of helping Atlanta drivers become more proficient in the laws they need to observe, I’ve listed and explained a few Georgia traffic laws that citizens tend to overlook.

Lesser-Known Georgia Traffic Laws
  1. Open Container Laws – Every state has its own laws regarding open containers of alcohol in a vehicle, and with the Atlanta area being home to a diversified mix of citizens from all parts of the country (and the world), many residents don’t realize that they need to be familiar with a new set of laws when they move. In Georgia, it is illegal for anyone in a vehicle (driver or passengers) to be in possession of an unsealed container of alcohol. This applies to all vehicles on any Georgia roadway as well as on the shoulder of any Georgia roadway. So if your car breaks down, make sure your passenger doesn’t start working on the case of beer you were bringing home while you wait for the mechanic.

  2. Feticide by Vehicle – Most citizens are aware that when an auto accident takes someone’s life, the driver at fault can be charged with vehicular homicide. However, fewer citizens are aware that Georgia also has a “feticide by vehicle” law. This means that if an auto accident causes the death of a fetus at any stage of development, the driver responsible can be charged with feticide by vehicle. Like vehicular homicide, feticide by vehicle can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the alleged traffic offense that lead to the accident. This is yet another reason that anyone involved in an auto accident should be evaluated by medical professionals as quickly as possible, regardless of whether or not they feel injured.

  3. Maintaining a Current Address on Driver’s Licenses – Moving is a highly-involved process, from finalizing the paperwork at the new and old residences, to packing, to the move itself, to changing your address on all your subscriptions and accounts. But unfortunately, the one document that many movers forget to update is the one document that they’re legally required to update: the driver’s license. It may be easy to forget (after all, how often do we actually look at our driver’s license?), but according to Georgia state law, all residents are required to update their license within 60 days of moving. Fortunately, you can make this change online at the Georgia Department of Driver’s Services website.

  4. Administrative License Suspension – In some circumstances, your license can be suspended before you’ve gone to court to defend yourself against traffic charges. This is called an administrative license suspension, and in Georgia, it most often occurs when an individual who has been arrested and charged with DUI refuses to take a state chemical test to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC).

  5. Speed-Detecting Technology – While a skilled Atlanta traffic lawyer has the knowledge necessary to defend you against unwarranted traffic citations, it’s always helpful for you to know your rights as well. Many citizens think that police officers can use speed-detecting technology in essentially any way they like. But in reality, Georgia has several laws in place to protect its citizens in this regard. For instance, a police officer using a speed detection device must ensure that his vehicle is visible to oncoming motorists from at least 500 feet away. There are also laws that prohibit how near an officer can be to a speed-change zone and how steep a hill may be in order for the officer to validly use his speed-detection device to issue a speeding citation.

The best advice that I can give Georgia residents is to know the laws that apply to them. This can help you not only know how to abide by the laws, but also know when you’ve been wrongly cited or charged. However, knowledge can’t prevent everything. If you do find yourself facing a citation or charge that you don’t feel you’re responsible for, it’s important to seek the help of an experienced traffic lawyer as soon as possible. To set up a consultation about your case, contact me, Mickey Roberts.

Throughout my legal career of 35 years, I have developed an interest in anything and everything involving traffic law issues.  I try to go beyond simply being my clients’ attorney, and try to serve as a source of information to help all Georgia drivers understand their rights when it comes to traffic law. To that end, I’m excited to announce the launch of my latest project: my website, www.MickeyRoberts.com (this new website will be a supplement to my current website, MrGADUI.com, rather than a replacement for it).

Mickey Roberts PC

Why create a new website?
I’m very proud of the valuable resource that MrGADUI.com has become for those who are seeking information about DUI laws in Atlanta. However, I have noticed a need for more detailed and focused information about the other areas of traffic law in which I practice. As a highly experienced traffic attorney, I defend the rights of drivers facing any number of traffic citations and charges. While my new website will still be informative about DUI, it will shed more light on drivers’ rights in regards to other traffic offenses, such as:

  • Serious Injury and Vehicular Homicide – In the case of a fatal car accident, the driver who caused the accident is typically charged with vehicular homicide. However, the charge can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on which alleged traffic offense led to the accident. If the collision does not result in a death but does result in significant injury, the driver at fault for the accident may be charged with serious injury by vehicle. My new website gives more details about the circumstances that can lead to these charges.
  • License Suspensions – The state of Georgia can suspend a driver’s license for many reasons, from committing one serious traffic offense, to violating many minor traffic laws, to offenses not even related to driving, such as failure to pay child support. MickeyRoberts.com can help you find out whether your driver’s license is at risk.
  • Drug-Related Charges – Many of my clients were involved in a simple traffic stop, were too intimidated to refuse a vehicle search, and found themselves facing drug charges. Especially due to the heavy consequences that can accompany drug-related convictions, it’s important to know your 4th amendment rights against illegal searches before you find yourself in a similar situation.
  • Automobile Accidents – Although car accidents can happen in just seconds, they can have lifelong consequences for both parties. Whether you were cited for causing the accident or have sustained injuries or damages in a collision that was caused by someone else, I can help to defend your rights.
  • Drivers Under the Age of 21 – There are many areas in which the law is different for young drivers, such as driver’s license restrictions, blood alcohol content limits in terms of DUI, and potential consequences for a number of traffic convictions. Only an attorney who is highly experienced in defending young drivers, such as myself, should handle these cases.

Visit www.MickeyRoberts.com for more information about these and many other traffic law-related topics or to sign up for my email newsletter, and join in the conversation about the latest law changes and case studies on my Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages. I have been passionate about defending drivers’ rights for the past 35 years, and I look forward to continuing to serve the Atlanta metropolitan area for many years to come.

You’ve probably heard it said many times that the law is open to interpretation, and that’s very true. In fact, if everything were black and white, most of our judicial system would be unnecessary. But just how much of the law is left up to interpretation? That’s the question on everyone’s mind when it comes to one recent news story.

Alabama man Madison Turner picked up a hamburger and was eating it on the way to his next destination when he was stopped by a Cobb County police officer. The officer had observed him eating while driving, and as a result, he issued Turner a citation. While the court date at which Mr. Turner can challenge the citation is not until February 3rd, it has left Georgia drivers with many questions: is there really a law against eating while driving? Am I at risk for a citation every time I need to eat lunch on the run? As a Georgia traffic lawyer, in the video below I address your questions and explain the circumstances of the law that Mr. Turner is accused of violating.

As this case demonstrates, there are many circumstances that can affect whether a law (or the spirit of a law) was actually broken. Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it out on your own. My many years of legal experience in various local court systems have equipped me to understand the intricacies of the distracted driving law and other Georgia traffic laws, and to fight for the rights of Georgia drivers. For more intriguing cases and updates to traffic laws, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Your teens and early 20s are a thrilling time: you’re getting ready to start your “adult” life and you’re trying to start off on the right foot as a responsible adult. It may be cliché to say that what happens when you’re young can impact the rest of your life, but it’s true. DUI convictions are no exception to this rule, especially when you’re under 21.

Everyone talks about the potential consequences like jail time and having the conviction on your record, but you have another consideration to keep in mind: finances. Just how expensive can a DUI be? It can reach immeasurable levels because the financial burden comes in one hit after another:

  • Fines – This may be obvious, but DUIs under 21 can carry heavy fines, even up to $1,000 depending on your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).
  • DUI school – You may be required to complete a Risk Reduction class, also known as “DUI school.” In Georgia, enrollment in these classes cost over $350.
  • Alcohol Evaluation: You may have to attend and complete an alcohol evaluation and any treatment if recommended. Costs can be anywhere from $150 to over $2000.
  • Missed work or school – DUIs can become very time-consuming very quickly, between attorney meetings, court dates, Risk Reduction classes, and especially court-ordered community service. If you’re working, it’s likely that all these extra time commitments will cause you to miss some time at work. Or, if you’re in school full-time, you’ll likely need to miss some class time or at least some necessary study time, which can eventually result in delayed graduation.
  • Insurance premiums – Because you’re a less experienced driver, your car insurance company already considers you a riskier driver than someone who’s over the age of 21. But with a DUI conviction added to your driving record as well, their risk to insure you increases tremendously, which could cause your monthly premiums to skyrocket.
  • Transportation – A DUI conviction will result in a suspension of your driver’s license for a minimum of either 6 months or 1 year, depending on your BAC. Plus, since you’re under 21, you don’t have the opportunity for a limited permit to drive to work and school, so chances are that you’ll be relying on (and paying for) a significant amount of public transit or taxi cabs. Keep in mind, though, that if you’re responsible for car payments, the payments don’t go away just because you can’t drive the car, so you’ll end up paying your regular car payments PLUS the public transit or cab fees you’d need to pay if you didn’t own a car.
  • Future Employment- Many employers will not hire you with a DUI conviction on your record.

Clearly, there are huge financial consequences for a DUI conviction, and those consequences are even greater as a driver who’s under the age of 21. If you’re arrested and charged with a DUI, your best chance to avoid a conviction is to work with a highly skilled traffic lawyer who specializes in DUI defense. Get in touch with me, Mickey Roberts, PC, to discuss your specific case, and keep up with Mr. GA DUI on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to stay up-to-date with tips and changes in traffic law.


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Disclaimer

The above information is intended to help educate members of the Georgia motoring public as to their rights under the law and to assist presumptively innocent citizens in properly asserting those rights. Information within this site should not be misconstrued as legal advice.