Category Archives: DUI Laws

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.

New Changes in Law as a result of SB100

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.

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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:

  1. 3-3-23.1 Minor in Possession of Alcohol: Deletes paragraph 3; no longer results in driver’s license suspension. Also deletes the suspension under 40-5-57.1(a) relating to suspension for under age possession of alcohol.
  2. 40-5-22(d) allows DDS to issue limited permit under 40-5-64 if license has been suspended due to suspension in another state, if otherwise eligible for such a limited permit.
  3. No mandatory suspension for use of fraudulent or fictitious license under 40-5-54 (a)(6); or any felony violation of Article I, Chapter 9, Title 16,  if such offense is related to an identification document as defined in 16-9-4.
  4. No suspension for drug convictions under 40-5-75 ; still suspended for DUI Drugs, although eligible for limited permit IF in Drug Court Program.
  5. No more license suspensions under 40-5-57.2(which is repealed), for conviction of driving off without paying for gas, 40-6-255.

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.

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

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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+.

Georgia Drivers Have a New Way to Be Haunted by Prior DUIs

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.

5 Important Facts about BUI Laws in Georgia

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+.

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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.
DUI Laws