If you are charged with DUI in Georgia, you need an experienced attorney on your side to help you through the process. A DUI conviction can result in jail time, a suspension of your driver's license, fines, community service, and more. Contact our criminal defense attorneys in Atlanta, GA to inquire about our legal services.
Judges take DUI very seriously and it's better to have an attorney in your corner to advocate for you and try to get the best possible result for your individual case. DUI's are prosecuted under O.C.G.A.¬ß 40-6-391. A DUI charge can be based on being under the influence of alcohol, drugs (including prescribed drugs), or glue/aerosol/toxic vapors. Here are the typical phases of a DUI as it proceeds through the judicial system in Georgia:
1. Initial stop and arrest by police officer or State Trooper
You are stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation, because of an accident, or at a checkpoint. The officer(s) make an evaluation based on your driving patterns, physical state, behavior, statements, and any field sobriety evaluations as to whether arrest you. If you are arrested for DUI, the arresting officer will most likely read you the “Implied Consent” warning and request a sample of your blood, breath, or urine for purposes of a state-administered chemical test to determine your BAC.
2. Jail (or hospital)
If you choose to do so, this is where you perform the state-administered breath, blood, or urine test. If you submit to the officer’s requested test, you can also request an independent test of your breath, blood, or urine from a medical professional, which the officer must reasonably accommodate. This is also where you have the opportunity to post a bond, which is set by a Magistrate Judge (or based a pre-set schedule). If it’s a misdemeanor, you have the right to have a bond amount set.
3. Your First Court Appearance (Arraignment)
This is where you are first advised of your charges in Municipal, State, or Superior Court. You can plead guilty, not guilty, or in some cases, nolo contendere. You can negotiate with the prosecutor and get their plea offer. Discovery (i.e. police report, video, breath/blood test results) can also be requested. If you are in Municipal Court and you demand a jury trial, the case will be bound over to the appropriate State or Superior Court.
4. Administrative License Suspension Hearing
This is a separate CIVIL hearing regarding the suspension of your license. You have 30 days after receiving the notice of suspension (which is usually when you are arrested) to request a hearing and challenge the suspension by questioning the arresting officer under oath. A suspension occurs if you refuse the state-administered test or your results are .08 or higher. You can also waive a hearinig and agree to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle to avoid a license suspension.
5. Motions Hearing
If your attorney files the appropriate motions, you can challenge the checkpoint, the reason for the stop, probable cause for arrest, the implied consent reading, your actual consent to the State’s test, the administration of the breath or blood test, and other issues. This is an opportunity to try to exclude evidence so the State cannot present it at trial, or in some cases, have the case dismissed.
While a last-minute plea bargain might happen, this is where a Judge or Jury (you have the right to a jury trial) hears the evidence and decides whether you are guilty or not guilty of the charges filed against you. The State has the burden of proving the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, and you have the right to remain silent. You can present evidence in your favor but are not required to do so. If you are convicted of any charges, the Judge will sentence you after trial according to the law.
If you agree to a resolution to plead guilty to a lesser charge or DUI, the terms are negotiated with the prosecutor and presented to the Judge. If the Judge wants to impose more conditions to the sentence than agreed upon, you have the right to withdraw your guilty plea if you choose to do so.
If you are convicted after trial, the Judge will sentence you to what he or she believes is appropriate under the law. For a first DUI convictions, jail time can range from 24 hours up to 1 year. A fine of $300-$1000 will be imposed, a minimum of 40 hours of community service, a Risk Reduction course (DUI school), and an alcohol/drug evaluation and any recommended treatment.
The minimum jail time for a 2nd DUI in a 10 year time frame is 90 days, but the Judge can probate all but 72 hours of that time (maximum is 1 year). The fine range is $600-$1000 and the minimum number of community service hours jump to 240. For a 3rd DUI in 10 years, the minimum jail time is 15 days (max. 1 year). The fine range is $1000-$5000 and the community service minimum is still 240 hours. A 4th DUI conviction in 10 years (if all were after 2008) becomes a felony charge.
You have 30 days after conviction to file a notice of appeal with the trial court. An appeal typically occurs if your attorney believes the Judge made an error in a legal ruling, or failed to follow proper legal procedures. It can also be based on other issues. An appeal would go to the Georgia Court of Appeals and possibly the Supreme Court of Georgia. In rare cases, an appeal can occur after a motions hearing but before trial.
This website is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship with the Law Office of Kyle H. Jarzmik, LLC. Information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for advice provided by an attorney. Kyle Jarzmik is licensed to practice law only in the State of Georgia.
With offices in Atlanta, Georgia, we represent and advise people in Fulton, Cobb, Dekalb, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Clayton, Rockdale, Douglas, Coweta, Carroll County, Lawrenceville, Cumming and all over the state of Georgia.