Your Georgia driver’s license can be suspended for up to a year, with NO limited permit available, if you or your lawyer fails to send in a letter requesting a hearing with the Department of Driver Services (DDS) within 10 days after your arrest for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), according to a recent Georgia Court of Appeals case.
Under Georgia law, the license of any person charged with DUI can be “administratively” suspended by the DDS even before a person’s DUI case is resolved. After being arrested for DUI, if you register above a .08 (or .02 for drivers under age 21) on the State breath machine, or if you “refuse” to submit to a state chemical test, the arresting officer takes your license and gives you a copy of a “1205” form, which acts as a temporary driver’s license. He sends in your license and the original 1205 to DDS.
You then have 10 business days in which to send in a letter, along with the $150 filing fee, requesting a hearing on the issue of whether you will receive an administrative license suspension. If you fail to do so, your license is automatically suspended 30 days after the arrest for up to 1 year!
In the past, DDS has “waived” the 10 day requirement if they received the letter close to the deadline and the filing fee was submitted. That policy apparently changed last year, and this case, Mikell v. Hortenstine, decided in late 2015, now puts everyone on notice that the DDS does not mess around when it comes to deadlines. Look at the facts of this case:
An officer arrested Hortenstine for DUI on Sept. 25, 2014 and served him with a notice of suspension of his driver’s license. Hortenstine hired a traffic attorney 8 days before the deadline, BUT the attorney failed to send in the letter until the 11th business day, one day outside the time period!
The trial court had some compassion for Hortenstine, and found that since he had provided all of the information to his lawyer in a timely manner, the DDS could not suspend his license without a hearing. However, in a cold and heartless decision, our Court of Appeals said,
“Since the lawyer was acting as an agent for Hortenstine, and since we are bound by the acts of our agents, the fact that the letter was sent 11 business days instead of 10 precluded Hortenstine from having a hearing, and the license suspension is upheld.”
I suppose the moral of the story is that you need to:
Georgia SB 100, which was passed in this year’s legislative session, changes several laws which previously had provided mandatory license suspensions. In particular, the offense of a minor in possession of alcohol and the offense of possession of drugs NO LONGER CARRY MANDATORY LICENSE SUSPENSIONS if they are not involved in a DUI.
While these offenses no longer carry mandatory suspensions and will not be reported to the Department of Driver Services (DDS), it is important to note that they still remain on a person’s arrest record if the person was arrested and fingerprinted. As a result, it’s still important to hire an attorney to make sure that the correct plea is entered so the arrest record can be restricted.
Here is a summary of the changes:
SB 100 is just one example of how Georgia’s laws are constantly changing, and why it’s crucial to work with a traffic lawyer who specializes in your area of need and who stays up-to-date with all the new laws, decisions, and precedents while understanding the impact they have on your case. To discuss your case and how I may be able to help, schedule a consultation with me, Mickey G. Roberts.
When you are looking to hire a DUI lawyer, which is more important: the price the lawyer charges, or the experience and reputation the lawyer brings to the table?
There is a debate in legal circles as to how lawyers should charge. On one side is the old school billable hour crowd, which believes lawyers should charge by the hour. On the other side is a new group which believes a lawyer should charge based on his/her knowledge and experience.
A recent case illustrates why I am now leaning towards the second group. Throughout my 35 years of practice, I have accumulated a vast amount of knowledge not only about the law, but also knowledge about and relationships with certain courts, police departments, prosecutors, and judges. That knowledge and the relationships derived from practicing for 35 years is, in many ways, invaluable.
In this recent case, my client was charged with driving under the influence (DUI). Even the video showed his speech was slurred, he was slightly unsteady, and he exhibited the maximum clues on the HGN field sobriety test. He also had supposedly run over a curb with his car.
At first glance, most lawyers would assume that it would be impossible to win a DUI case like this one. However, the client had been involved in a serious injury accident several years ago, which left him with some head injuries and partial memory loss. The client provided me with proof of his injuries sustained in the accident, as well as a letter from his lawyer indicating the evidence of permanent disability.
I first approached the officer and told him, in a nice way, of my concerns about whether the symptoms were the result of alcohol impairment or the result of injuries sustained by my client, and told him I would be talking to the prosecutor about reducing the charges. Then I spoke with the prosecutor, whom I have known for over 25 years, and eventually she agreed with me and reduced the charges.
Now, how valuable was it to my client that I had developed enough experience to consider other causes for this supposed DUI and established those relationships with the officer and prosecutor? Or that I had worked hard to develop a reputation with many prosecutors as someone who knows what they’re doing when it comes to DUI cases, so that if I discuss with these prosecutors that they have a problem with their traffic law case, they listen, research, and consider other possibilities?
Yes, my opinion is that experience, knowledge, and relationships are invaluable when it comes to DUI defense.
One of the reasons it’s so important for anyone charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) to hire an experienced traffic attorney is because your first DUI conviction will amplify the consequences of any future DUIs. A second DUI conviction not only carries heftier penalties than a first DUI, but also involves a complex process for getting your driver’s license reinstated. There is a lot of incorrect information out there, so here is the truth about license reinstatement after a second DUI conviction within a five-year period:
** Please note: I get many calls from folks wanting to seek the financial hardship waiver for the IID, but there are a few important factors to consider. First, it is very rare for a judge to order a waiver. Second, if you do receive a waiver for the IID, you are NOT eligible for any limited permit, meaning you would have a hard suspension for the full eighteen months!
Because driver’s license reinstatement laws are complex, it is wise to hire an experienced, knowledgeable DUI lawyer to help guide you through the process. To begin discussing your case, call Mickey Roberts at 770-923-4948 for more information. Or, to stay up-to-date on the latest DUI and traffic law news, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
A recent local traffic law case brings to light the importance of understanding uninsured motorist insurance:
A man whose car was rear-ended in DeKalb County in 2009 recently lost his claim against his uninsured motorist carrier when the Supreme Court of Georgia determined he did not adequately prove he was eligible for coverage.
The high court unanimously reversed a narrowly divided Court of Appeals opinion on the question. The justices found that the burden of proof rested with the injured driver, rather than his uninsured motorist carrier, to show whether the at-fault driver in the wreck was technically uninsured.
What is uninsured motorist insurance and why do you need it?
Let’s say, for instance, that you are involved in an auto accident and you suffer a serious injury by vehicle. You receive a broken leg, and with surgery and recovery, your medical bills are in excess of $50, 000. On top of that, you have lost wages and of course the pain and suffering that comes with the injury.
The driver who caused the accident has the minimum liability coverage in Georgia: $25,000. Obviously, that would not cover your damages. That’s where uninsured motorist insurance comes into play.
If you have uninsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance policy, and you can prove the driver at fault was either uninsured or underinsured, you can file for payment of the difference with your insurance company.
So, if your claim is for $100,000, and you have uninsured coverage of $100,000, you could apply the $25,000 from the other party’s insurance and claim the remaining $75,000 on your policy.
Uninsured motorist coverage is relatively inexpensive. Check your auto insurance policy today and make sure you have an amount you are comfortable with. Then, in the event of an accident, contact an experienced traffic attorney to help you takes the correct steps toward the best possible outcome.
If you are involved in an accident and charged with either Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Reckless Driving, and because of that driving, you cause another person to suffer serious injury, you could be charged with a felony, punishable with imprisonment anywhere from 3 to 15 years.
Serious injury by vehicle is one of two types of DUI cases which can be a felony case, with the other being vehicular homicide.
What is the definition of a “serious injury?” A serious injury is “when another is deprived of a member of his body, by rendering a member of his body useless, by seriously disfiguring his body or a member thereof, or by causing organic brain damage which renders the body or any member thereof useless.”
Here are some examples of Serious Injury by Vehicle from actual Georgia auto accident cases:
Anytime you are involved in an accident involving another person, and you are charged with DUI or reckless driving, it is IMPORTANT that you hire an experienced traffic lawyer immediately. There are many things which must be done soon after the accident, like notifying your insurance company, finding out the extent of any possible injuries to the other party, and obtaining copies of the police accident and incident reports. In addition, many times I will go ahead and hire an accident reconstructionist so that he can evaluate the accident site and evidence immediately.
A felony conviction can be devastating. The likelihood of not only prison time but also the disabilities that go along with such a conviction call for an aggressive, well-planned defense.
If you find yourself facing such a situation, please call me, Mickey G. Roberts, PC, immediately!
Summertime usually means traveling to the beach or mountains or lake. If you are planning on driving out of the state this summer, here are some scenarios to think about:
Your teenager gets an out-of-state speeding ticket in Gulfshores, Alabama. How does that affect his/her license in GA?
If the speed is high enough that it would suspend the license in Georgia, then the Georgia license will eventually be suspended. If the offense is one that would suspend the license in Alabama, then the Georgia license will also eventually be suspended, and your teen will have to reinstate driving privileges in Alabama BEFORE getting their Georgia license reinstated.
You get a DUI in Florida, and you have a Georgia license.
If you are convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Florida, your Georgia license will be suspended. You will NOT be able to get a limited permit to drive to work, and you will only be able to get license reinstatement in Georgia once you have satisfied Florida’s reinstatement provisions.
You receive a ticket out of state which can suspend a driver’s license either in the other state or Georgia.
Your Georgia license will be suspended and you will not be able to get Georgia license reinstatement until you have satisfied all the issuing state’s reinstatement procedures. For some reason, many folks think that an out of state ticket has no bearing on their GA license. Unfortunately, this is not accurate. Therefore, you should call or email me, Mickey Roberts, PC, if you or your family member receives a ticket out of state.
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.