Tag Archives: atlanta dui attorney

Georgia Courts: No Flexibility on License Suspension Letter

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.

Georgia Courts: No Flexibility on License Suspension Letter

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:

  1. Hire a DUI lawyer as soon after your arrest as you can, and
  2. Make sure that your DUI lawyer is experienced as well as competent and can be trusted to get that letter in well before the 10-day deadline.

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.

Case of the Month: When Parking the Car is the Best Option

Even efforts to make good decisions can go awry when you do not hire the right DUI lawyer. However, in November’s case of the month, because my client went the correct route in getting out of her DUI case, a good outcome was possible in a not-so-good situation.

My client had been drinking when she found herself in a situation where she needed to leave for her safety. After she started driving, she realized that she might have had too much to drink to drive safely. After pulling into a subdivision and parking on a side street, she turned off the car, took the keys out of the ignition, moved over to the passenger side, and drifted off to sleep. Almost 2 hours later, a resident called the police, who came to the scene to investigate. After waking my client up, the officer arrested her for DUI.

One of the key elements in prosecuting a DUI is that the State must prove that you were in control of a moving vehicle and were impaired to drive.  It is possible to be convicted of DUI, EVEN if the officer does not see you driving. You can be convicted by “circumstantial” evidence. For instance, if you are in a parked car with the engine running, you admit that you had parked the car recently, or if you are involved in an accident and admit that you were driving.

The key elements to not being found guilty of DUI–even though you tried to do the right thing by parking your car–are as follows:
  1. Turn the engine off, take the keys out of the ignition, and move to the back seat.
  2. If approached by the police, do not answer any questions relating to when your driving ended, how much you had to drink, etc.
  3. Do NOT submit to any field evaluations.
  4. Do NOT take any breath test at the scene.
  5. If you think you would register above the legal limit, DON’T take any state test.
 

In this particular case, I was able to find a compassionate prosecutor who agreed to dismiss the DUI charge. One would think that if a person was trying to do the right thing by getting off the road, the State would give you a break. However, this rarely happens in the DUI world. Therefore, you need to exercise your Constitutional rights and protect yourself as much as you can.

For more DUI arrest advice you can connect with me on FacebookTwitter and Google+.  Keep reading the MRGADUI blog for the latest traffic law news.

10 Good Reasons to Avoid a Second DUI Conviction

All of my clients arrested for DUI for the first time seem to have one thing in common: the trauma associated with being arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail for four to twelve hours before release after bonding. Even a first DUI conviction, with license suspension, minimal jail time, 40 hours of community service and so forth, can be time consuming, embarrassing, and a hassle.

Multiply this by 100 times and you will get the level of trauma associated with a second DUI conviction. In Georgia, license suspensions are determined by how many DUI convictions one has received in a 5 year period. For minimum sentence purposes, Georgia looks at how many DUI convictions one has had in a 10 year period.why-photo

Here are 10 good reasons to avoid a 2nd DUI conviction, whether in a 5 year or a 10 year period:
  1. The minimum jail time is three days, although most jurisdictions give between 10 and 120 days incarceration.
  2. A minimum sentence of 240 hours community service is given for second DUI convictions.
  3. Completion of a DUI school, a 20-hour class costing around $300, is required before your license can be reinstated. 
  4. A minimum fine of $600 is assessed. Again, most courts do not sentence you to a minimum fine; most fines end up being in excess of $1000.
  5. A clinical alcohol and drug evaluation must be completed, along with any recommended treatment.  This can be anywhere from an outpatient program to an inpatient program, and can also include AA meetings; this is also required before any limited permit is available or license reinstatement. 
  6. A second DUI conviction also requires the installation of an Interlock Ignition Device (IID) on any car you drive, as a prerequisite for a limited permit and license reinstatement.  IIDs cost money to install, maintain, and remove.
  7. Tag forfeiture on any car titled in your name
  8. Your photo, along with notice of the DUI conviction, will be published in the local legal newspaper.
  9. Possible sentence to a DUI court program, a 12 -24 month program involving weekly meetings and group meetings with the DUI court judge.
  10. A total of 18 months of either no driving or limited driving:  license suspension for at least 120 days with no driving; followed by possibly 12 months of limited driving with the Interlock Device (IID) and 2 more months of limited driving with no IID.


So as you can see, if you are charged with a second DUI, it is imperative to hire an experienced DUI lawyer who knows the law and defends DUI cases. For over 33 years, Atlanta DUI attorney Mickey Roberts has been aggressively fighting DUI cases with a success rate of 98% on contested cases. If you find yourself facing a second or multiple DUIs, you owe it to yourself to at least talk with MrGaDUI.  You can also connect with Mickey on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Contact MrGADUI

Please leave this field empty.

Archives

Newsletter

Location

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.
atlanta dui attorney