Tag Archives: Georgia DUI

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.

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+.

What is the Definition of a Serious Injury?

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:

  1. Broken bone(s), even a little toe!
  2. Stitches
  3. Losing vision in an eye
  4. Losing hearing
  5. Contusion of the brain
  6. Leg injury which resulted in temporary use
  7. Facial lacerations
  8. Disfigurement from surgery

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!

Fast Facts about Alcohol

When many people hear about DUI charges, they often have the misconception that only heavy drinkers need to be concerned about the possibility of one day facing a DUI charge. However, any driver can be forced to defend themselves against an accusation of a DUI. Throughout my 35 years of legal experience, I’ve noticed that many DUIs are the result of a simple lack of information, whether it’s a misunderstanding about how much of an effect alcohol can have on the brain, or an underestimate about the dangers of driving drunk. To help Georgia drivers develop a better understanding of alcohol and its effects, I’ve compiled some quick facts and statistics that can help you become a safer driver.

gwinnett dui attorney

There’s no question that drinking and driving can have real and powerful consequences. But similarly, drunk drivers aren’t the only ones who find themselves in defense against a DUI charge. The best step any driver can take is to be knowledgeable about their rights. To learn more about your rights as a Georgia driver, explore my website or join me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, or contact me to schedule an appointment regarding you DUI or traffic law case.

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.

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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.
Georgia DUI