Tag Archives: Atlanta DUI

So You Got a Ticket Out of State: What You Need to Know

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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.

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.

Lesser-Known Georgia Traffic Laws

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.

Researchers Open Up Possibility of Roadside Breath Testing for Drugs

In the state of Georgia, anyone suspected of DUI is subject to a number of field sobriety tests to determine whether a driver is unfit to operate a vehicle.  While most people may associate a DUI with alcohol consumption, it also includes the use of drugs.  With breath tests as a frequently used roadside test to determine an individual’s blood alcohol content detected in the breath, there has not been a similar device to determine the presence of drugs, until now.Police Officer - Eye Coordination

A group of researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden conducted a study proving illegal substances such as cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines can be detected in the breath, opening up the possibility of a roadside drug breathalyzer test.  47 participants who had used drugs in the previous 24 hours submitted blood, breath, plasma and urine samples.  The breath samples were collected using a small portable breath sampling device that consisted of a mouth piece and a micro-particle filter.  Tiny particles that carry non-volatile substances (a substance that can’t be changed from a solid or liquid into a vapor) and have been inhaled or consumed contaminates the airway lining fluid and are subsequently passed through open airways when exhaled, trapping the micro-particles in a filter that can be sealed and stored for testing.

Similar to field sobriety tests conducted in DUI cases, drug tests may be administered roadside using the same breath test method.  With the possible drug breathalyzer test, police will be able to detect drugs and convict drivers of a DUI if drugs are present in their results.  As a Gwinnett traffic attorney with over 18 years of experience representing clients for DUI offenses, Mickey Roberts often reminds his clients to follow the 4 simple rules to understand their rights and to avoid incriminating themselves.

To learn more about the latest news on DUI and traffic laws, visit the MRGADUI blog.  To inquire about legal representation for traffic offenses, contact Mickey G. Roberts today.  Also be sure to connect with Mickey 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.
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