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There are many reasons why a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) conviction can be disastrous. Besides the immediate consequences of license suspension, jail, probation, community service, etc., a DUI conviction ALWAYS stays on your driving and arrest records. While some drivers already know that a prior DUI conviction can result in a harsher sentence for any future DUIs, there is another, lesser-known reason why you don’t want a DUI conviction: if you are arrested for a subsequent DUI, the prior DUI conviction MAY be introduced into evidence at trial against you.

Georgia is one of the few states (potentially the only state) that allow such evidence, which used to be known as “similar transaction evidence”. That is because a prior criminal conviction generally is only admissible to show motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.  And since DUI is not a crime where someone specifically intends to drive while impaired, (unlike, say, a crime spree where someone robs several banks), most states have ruled that prior DUIs are just not relevant to a current DUI charge.

Oh, but not Georgia, where the Constitution seems to apply to every citizen except those charged with DUI!  In the recent case of State v. Jones, decided on June 1, 2015, the Georgia Supreme Court held that prior “other acts” evidence (the new name for “similar transaction evidence”) IS admissible for the purpose of showing a general intent to drive while either impaired or over the legal blood alcohol limit.

So, when charged with a first time Georgia DUI offense, it’s wise to hire an experienced traffic attorney specializing in DUI defense to try to fight that charge as aggressively as possible in hopes of avoiding a conviction, because if convicted, the DUI stays on your record forever and can come back to haunt you should you ever receive another DUI arrest.

The boating season is about to begin in earnest in the next few weeks. While boating can make for a great summer day, certain safety and legality measures must be followed. Below are 5 important facts to remember when you’re out on the water.

  1. In terms of Boating Under the Influence (BUI), “boating” includes operating, navigating, steering or driving any moving vessel on the waterways of Georgia. This includes boats, jet skis, moving water skis and moving aquaplanes.
  2. Rangers from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) can stop your boat for any reason. Unlike a stop involving a car, the police can stop your vessel for the purpose of verifying proper documentation, for proper safety equipment on board, and more. In one Georgia case, the court held that “merely observing a can of beer in the hand of one who is otherwise operating a boat in a safe manner gives cause for a stop of the vessel.”
  3. If you are arrested for BUI and refuse to take the state chemical test, your operating privileges can be suspended for a year.
  4. The legal limit for BUI is the same in Georgia as it is for DUI (Driving Under the Influence): .08 grams of alcohol. However, you can be charged with BUI if you are operating your vessel in a less safe manner due to being under the influence of alcohol or drugs even if you have less than the legal limit of alcohol in your system.
  5. If you are BUI and cause either death or serious injury to someone, you can be charged with a felony, punishable by imprisonment for 3 to 15 years. Unlike automobiles, which have many safety features designed to protect us in the event of an accident, most watercrafts have few (if any) safety features, and serious injuries and deaths can occur on the water. Please be mindful of boating safety this summer.

While a BUI conviction doesn’t result in the loss of your driver’s license, it can result in hefty fines, community service, probation, and even jail time. Therefore, if you’re arrested for BUI, you should hire only a Georgia traffic lawyer experienced in BUI cases to defend your rights. Schedule a consultation with Mickey Roberts, PC to discuss your case, or, for more legal tips, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

When many people hear about DUI charges, they often have the misconception that only heavy drinkers need to be concerned about the possibility of one day facing a DUI charge. However, any driver can be forced to defend themselves against an accusation of a DUI. Throughout my 35 years of legal experience, I’ve noticed that many DUIs are the result of a simple lack of information, whether it’s a misunderstanding about how much of an effect alcohol can have on the brain, or an underestimate about the dangers of driving drunk. To help Georgia drivers develop a better understanding of alcohol and its effects, I’ve compiled some quick facts and statistics that can help you become a safer driver.

gwinnett dui attorney

There’s no question that drinking and driving can have real and powerful consequences. But similarly, drunk drivers aren’t the only ones who find themselves in defense against a DUI charge. The best step any driver can take is to be knowledgeable about their rights. To learn more about your rights as a Georgia driver, explore my website or join me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, or contact me to schedule an appointment regarding you DUI or traffic law case.

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.


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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.