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Our Recent Results speak for themselves. We have a successful record of jury trial victories, and we have negotiated pre-trial dismissals of DUI and VGCSA charges for hundreds of clients. Whether it is a first time DUI charge or a vehicular manslaughter charge involving alcohol or drugs, The Howard Law Group has the experience necessary to defend your rights.
If you’re charged with DUI in Atlanta, you’re going to need a DUI lawyer. Even if it’s your first offense, you could be facing jail time and some pretty hefty fines. You’ll also be facing a mandatory suspension of your driver’s license if convicted.
There’s so much at stake that you need an experienced DUI lawyer in Atlanta by your side. They can help prepare a strong defense on your behalf.
Some of the possible defenses to DUI in Atlanta, Georgia include an unlawful stop, improper administration of the field sobriety test, or faulty testing equipment.
An Atlanta DUI lawyer is going to do his best to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. But, you can’t delay calling them. You only have a few days after your DUI arrest before you have to appear in court. You don’t want to show up to this hearing alone. They’ll talk to the prosecutor and see if there’s a chance of pleading to a lesser charge such as reckless driving.
A police officer mentioning the need to take a field sobriety test can wreck the nerves of any driver – whether intoxicated or completely sober. The officer will likely let you know that taking the test is optional, but the fear of what may happen to you in the aftermath of your refusal may scare you even more than the test itself! Remember: You are not required to take the field sobriety test in Georgia.
In most cases, the field sobriety test is used as the first step for police officers who want to determine a driver’s level of intoxication. However, that is not the only step available. This test is typically offered before a blood or breath test. Refusing to take a blood, urine or breath test may lead to a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. Refusing a field sobriety test, though, does not have the same result for most drivers.
There are a few instances that serve as the exception to the rule. For instance, if you are under the age of 21, act suspiciously when questioned by the police officer or have a former DUI conviction on your record, refusal of the field sobriety test could solidify the officer’s decision to arrest and detain you. This would be added to the “probable cause” used to pull you over in the first place and may lead to the request of additional field tests – such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk-and-turn exercise or backward counting.
Did you agree to take either of the above-referenced tests as part of your DUI arrest? The best thing you can do next is contacting Howard & Arca to protect your rights and have a solid chance to preserve your driving privileges.
Years ago, breathalyzer tests were required in Georgia. Unlike field sobriety tests, a person’s refusal of the breathalyzer test could then be used against them in criminal court. However, a new DUI breathalyzer biller approved by the Senate essentially transformed that concept in favor of the motorists.
According to House Bill 471, which was passed by the Senate 50-2 in March 2019, police officers can no longer inform motorists that a refusal could be used against them in court. A motorist suspected of drunk driving can refuse breathalyzer tests before or after the arrest without the worry of it being used against them.
The bill was initially proposed as a response to a recent ruling from the Georgia Supreme Court. The ruling concluded that requiring a breathalyzer test violates a person’s constitutional right to protect himself or herself against self-incrimination. Further changes to Georgia DUI laws will be considered in future legislative sessions.
If you decide to refuse a blood test in response to a suspected DUI charge, then you will lose your driving privileges for a full year. Whether you are convicted does not matter when it comes to this rule due to the implied consent law. In other situations, you could receive a limited driving permit that would at least allow you to drive to and from work. However, this type of refusal removes that option from consideration. You would not be entitled to hardship or limited driving permit at all.
Fortunately, there is still hope. This is where a high-quality Georgia DUI attorney can assist you. The objective would be to have the refusal withdrawn to restore driving privileges. For instance, your attorney could work towards a unilateral withdrawal where the arresting officer clears the refusal and you would no longer be committed to a guilty plea for the DUI charge. The other type of withdrawal requires a guilty plea but removes the D.D.S. 1205 form and qualifies the convicted driver for a restricted driver’s license.
If you refuse to take a blood test or the test results showed a BAC level of at least 0.08, the 30-day DUI rule gives you thirty (30) calendar days to submit a request for a special hearing. Otherwise, your driving privileges will be suspended for a full year.
Keep in mind that the 0.08 BAC level does not apply to every situation. For instance, if you were under the age of 21 on the day of your arrest, a 0.02 test result would still enforce the 30-day rule. In addition, if you are a licensed commercial driver who was on the clock at the time of your arrest, a blood alcohol level of at least 0.04 would have the same consequences.
Missing the 30-day window leads to an administrative suspension – not a criminal punishment – but is automatically enforced if you do not submit the appeal letter on time. Once the letter is received by the Department of Driver’s Services, the special hearing is typically scheduled within 30 days. The Administrative Law Judge will examine the evidence during this special hearing – which may or may not include your testimony. Having a good Georgia DUI lawyer at your side will play an integral role in working towards a positive outcome in this scenario.
The punishments and penalties that you face for a DUI in Georgia depend on your history of DUI charges. A first-time offender, for instance, will face a different set of penalties than a habitual violator. The guide below outlines the varying degrees of punishments that you could potentially face at each level:
The penalties and punishments associated with DUI cases that involve casualties or fatalities are much more severe than standard DUI penalties. This includes (but is not limited to) the following:
The length of the prison sentence will depend on the circumstances of the case. For instance, vehicular homicide can land a driver behind bars for 3-15 years for each charge. A serious injury incident could lead to a minimum one-year prison sentence and feticide by vehicle carries a minimum 3-year prison sentence. If you are convicted with a hit and run charge, you could potentially spend up to 5 years in prison.
Civil lawsuits are also a consequence of these types of accidents – especially when the injured party suffers extensive physical, emotional and financial damages. Settlements could include lost wages, pain & suffering, long-term medical expenses, and property damage.
Keep in mind that a not-guilty verdict in a criminal DUI case does not necessarily protect you from civil lawsuits and related cases. This is primarily because there are no reasonable doubt requirements with civil court cases – which makes them nearly impossible to fight against on your own without the expertise and guidance of a Georgia attorney.
For professionals in careers such as pharmacy, accounting, nursing, and other medical fields like doctors or surgeons, your professional license is your livelihood. It allows you to practice in your chosen field, help others, and provide for your family.
When this license is threatened, everything in your life may be on the line. If you are facing a professional license review or investigation, call the Atlanta professional license defense lawyers at Howard & Arca immediately. We will aggressively defend your license by all means necessary. Your career is dedicated to helping others every day, we’d be honored to help you when you need it most.
Don’t leave your license, career, and livelihood to chance, hire the best, hire Howard & Arca.
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