Category Archives: Arrested for DUI? Now what?

Why Motions Are Important in a DUI Case

One of my recent cases shows why it is so important to consider filing a “Motion to Suppress” in every Driving Under the Influence (DUI) case. Many attorneys structure their fees to always include a motion to suppress. I don’t normally do this, because there may be some cases where even a motion to suppress is not called for, and in those cases, a defendant may pay more than necessary to resolve their case. That being said, however, in MOST DUI cases it might be worth the money to consider filing a motion to suppress. What is a Motion to Suppress? A Motion to Suppress is a legal pleading which asks the Court to either throw out the case or throw out (suppress) evidence such as the State Breath Test.  While the vast majority of motions to suppress are not granted, the mere fact of forcing the State’s witnesses to show up for court always renders the possibility of good things happening for a Defendant. I tell my clients there are three potentially positive outcomes of going forward with a hearing on a Motion to Suppress:
  1. The State’s witnesses don’t show and you either win the case or force the State to offer a reduction of the charges.
  2. The State’s witnesses do show, and you are able to cross-examine them just like you would at a trial, which opens the possibility for some or all of the case to be thrown out.
  3. Even if the Court denies the Motion, it can sometimes show the State that their witness doesn’t testify as well as perhaps they would like, which gives the State pause to consider whether to go forward with the charges or offer a reduction.
How a Motion to Suppress Helped My Client On this recent case, I had filed a Motion to Suppress which included a request to exclude a breath test due to 4th Amendment search issues. While the “stopping” officer did appear at the hearing, the arresting officer and breath test operator failed to show up.  The Court indicated  that it would not grant the State’s request for a continuance, meaning that if the hearing went forward, the State would not be able to prove the officer had “probable cause” for the arrest, and the entire case would be thrown out.  Of course, the State could have also dismissed the case and re-accused the client within six months. Based on the above, my client accepted an offer to plead to a reduced charge, which kept him from losing his job and also kept his license from being suspended. A lawyer should consider a Motion to Suppress in every DUI case, although quite frankly, many attorneys rarely file these motions. That is why it is so important to hire a lawyer who is qualified and experienced specifically in DUI defense.

How Relationships Can Win a DUI Case

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.

The Facts About Georgia Driver’s License Reinstatement After Second DUI

dui-in-georgia

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:

  • There is a hard suspension for four months after the plea. (This means absolutely NO driving!)
  • After four months, you may be able to get a limited permit to drive to work or school, which is valid for the next twelve months.  HOWEVER, you must first prove to the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS):
    • You have completed the twenty-hour Risk Reduction Class (DUI School).
    • You have completed the Alcohol and Drug Evaluation.
    • You have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on any car you drive, which requires you to blow into the device and prevents the car from starting if alcohol is detected.
  • After those twelve months, you may be able to get a limited permit for an additional two months.
  • Finally, after eighteen months of suspension, you can get your license reinstated by proving to the Georgia DDS:
    • You have completed DUI School.
    • You have completed a substance abuse program if it was recommended based on your Alcohol and Drug Evaluation. If no substance abuse program was recommended, you MUST receive a waiver from the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD).
    • You have had an IID for one year, unless waived by the Court for financial hardship.
    • You have paid a $210 reinstatement fee.

** 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+.

Don’t be Misled by Minimum Sentences on DUIs

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.

Are You a First Time DUI Offender? Here’s What You Should Do Next

Your first DUI arrest can be an anxious time. You have just endured being arrested, handcuffed and taken to jail—probably not the fun time you imagined upon heading out for the night. If you are wondering what typically happens in your case, let Georgia DUI attorney Mickey Roberts lead you to the path of successfully dealing with DUIs when it’s your first time.

arrested for dui First, it is important to hire an experienced DUI lawyer who has a reputation in the legal community as aggressively and successfully defending DUIs. It’s important to acquire a lawyer who also has long standing professional relationships with police officers, judges, and prosecutors.

When you were arrested for DUI, you should receive a citation for your DUI charges which will have your initial court date on it. You may also have received a “1205 form”, which is a 30 day permit to drive and is also notice that the State will try to suspend your license BEFORE your court date.

Once you have hired an experienced lawyer, a “10 day” letter will be sent to Driver’s Services immediately, which will keep your license valid past the first 30 day period. Additionally, an “open records request” to the State will be sent, requesting all of the evidence they have that relates to your case. Once the evidence is received, a report which outlines any possible defenses and the recommendations on how to proceed with your case will be sent. The initial goal of your lawyer is to look for any possible means to win your case, giving you enough information upon which you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.

At some point in time you’ll be given several options, which will include pleading guilty, pleading to a “lesser offense”, or fighting your case with either a bench or jury trial.  Mickey Roberts can help you make a decision by also providing you with information relative to license suspension, possible sentence and possible ramifications with changes to your driving record and license, insurance, employment loss.

Not only can hiring a qualified, knowledgeable DUI attorney be beneficial to winning your case, it can also make the process less confusing. If you are arrested for DUI or other serious traffic matters, contact MrGaDUI today. Also be sure to follow Mickey Roberts on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for more traffic law updates and news.

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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.
Arrested for DUI? Now what?