DUI Defense Lawyer in Atlanta

DUI lawyer Atlanta GA
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is one of the most common criminal offenses in the State of Georgia. If you have been stopped for DUI (either alcohol or drugs), you need to contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. If you have refused to take the state-administered breathalyzer test, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year, unless you contact an attorney to file the “10 day letter” appealing the suspension on your behalf.

Two Types of DUIs: Less Safe and Per Se

There are two types of DUIs under Georgia law: less safe and per se. To prove the offense of DUI less safe, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it was less safe for you to operate a vehicle. Typically, the State’s only witness is the arresting officer who testifies to some type of physical manifestation of intoxication, ie. blood shot eyes, unsteady on feet, slurred speech, odor of alcohol or any unsafe driving maneuver, such as failure to maintain lane.

To prove the offense of DUI per se, the prosecutor must show either an unlawful blood alcohol level or any amount of contraband drugs. It is not necessary to prove that the driver was less safe to obtain a conviction for DUI per se. Georgia law provides that in the event a driver registers a blood alcohol level of .05 or less, an inference arises that the driver was not a less safe driver. The burden is then on the State to prove through proper evidence that the driver was indeed less safe due to alcohol consumption in order to obtain a conviction for DUI less safe.

In the event a driver registers between a .05 and a .08, there is neither an inference of less safe nor an inference of safe to drive. In the event a driver registers a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, an inference arises that the driver was less safe. Per se DUI can also be shown by evidence that the driver had any amount of contraband in his or her system, such as cocaine metabolites. Additionally, if the driver is under age 21, any blood alcohol level over .02 is considered a per se violation. Likewise, if the driver is driving a commercial vehicle, any blood alcohol level over .04 is considered a per se violation.

Defenses may exist that could prevent the prosecution from introducing evidence of the driver’s blood alcohol level. An experienced attorney will know how to prevent the prosecutor from using unlawfully obtained evidence against you at trial. Additionally, an experienced attorney can explain the ramifications of your past criminal history on the likely sentence for the pending DUI, the potential benefits of a nolo contendere plea and the implications of entering a non-negotiated plea.

The nolo contendere plea is not always available, and in fact, is not available to anyone under the age of 18 at the time of the arrest, anyone who registered a blood alcohol level of 0.15 or higher or anyone that has a prior DUI conviction or plea within the past 5 years. The nolo contendere plea is always discretionary and an experienced attorney may know how to best persuade a judge to accept a nolo contendere plea in your case.
DUI Defense Lawyer

DUI convictions carry mandatory minimum sentence requirements under Georgia law:

  • For a first DUI offense in 5 years, the mandatory minimum sentence is a fine in the amount of $300 plus statutory surcharges which range from 15-25% typically and a maximum fine of $1,000.00, a jail sentence of 24 hours with a maximum of 1 year in jail, completion of 40 hours of community service, and for a driver who is over 21 at the time of the arrest, a license suspension for 120 days, during which time you can obtain a limited driving permit and you must complete a risk reduction course to reinstate your driver’s license. If the driver is under the age of 21 at the time of the arrest, the license will be suspended for 6 months if the blood alcohol level was under .08 and one year if the blood alcohol level exceeded .08, with no limited permit available.
  • For a second DUI offense in 5 years, the mandatory minimum sentence is a fine in the amount of $600 plus statutory surcharges which range from 15-25% typically and a maximum fine of $1,000.00, a jail sentence of 3 days with a maximum of 1 year in jail, completion of 30 days of community service, and for a driver who is over 21 at the time of the arrest, a license suspension for 3 years, with one year being a hard suspension and reinstatement being possible after one year if an ignition interlock system is installed in the driver’s vehicle. If the driver is under the age of 21 at the time of the arrest, the license will be suspended for 18 months, with no limited permit available. Additionally, any driver convicted of a second DUI offense within 5 years will be subject to having their photograph published and being required to pay the publication fee of $25 in addition to forfeiture of any license plates belonging to vehicles registered in the driver’s name.
  • drinking and driving dui attorney in Atlanta

  • For a third or subsequent DUI offense in 5 years, the mandatory minimum sentence is a fine in the amount of $1,000 plus statutory surcharges which range from 15-25% typically and a maximum fine of $5,000.00, a jail sentence of 15 days with a maximum of 1 year in jail, completion of 30 days of community service, and for a driver who is over 21 at the time of the arrest, a license revocation for 5 years and designation as a habitual violator, with two years being a hard suspension and reinstatement being possible after completion of DUI school, alcohol and drug evaluation and any treatment recommended and installation of an ignition interlock system in the driver’s vehicle. If the driver is under the age of 21 at the time of the arrest, the license will be suspended for 5 years, with no limited permit available. Additionally, any driver convicted of a second DUI offense within 5 years will be subject to having their photograph published and being required to pay the publication fee of $25 in addition to forfeiture of any license plates belonging to vehicles registered in the driver’s name.

As you can see, DUI charges can carry very severe punishments. In addition to the criminal charges and sentences, administrative license suspensions may arise as a result of a driver’s failure to submit to the state administered breathalyzer test. If a driver either refuses to submit to any state administered test after being read the Implied Consent Notice or the test indicates a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, the Department of Driver’s Services may suspend the license of the driver before the driver is ever convicted of the DUI offense. Under the implied consent law, the State can require that you provide a sample of your blood, breath or urine for testing to determine the presence of alcohol or contraband drugs.

YOU CAN AVOID THE SUSPENSION IF YOU ACT QUICKLY AND HIRE AN ACCOMPLISHED ATLANTA DUI LAWYER!

It is important to contact an experienced DUI attorney who can file what is commonly referred to as the 10-day letter which is an appeal of the Administrative License Suspension. If the arresting officer submits a sworn report to the Department of Public Safety, the appeal must be filed within 10 business days of the arrest or the administrative suspension takes effect on the 31st day following your arrest and lasts from one to five years, depending on your driving record. If your license is administratively suspended, you are not eligible for a limited permit. Your license can be administratively suspended if you request a hearing and are not successful at the hearing. The only means of undoing the suspension are to win at trial or to enter a plea to a charge that is not a DUI.

If your license is suspended either for failure to timely request a hearing or if your appeal is denied after the administrative hearing, you may be eligible for a 30-day work permit if you apply for it at the main DMVS office in Conyers, Georgia if it is your first DUI offense. After the 30-day permit expires, you can receive early reinstatement of your driver’s license if you complete the DUI school and pay the appropriate reinstatement fee ($200.00 via mail or $210.00 if you apply in person). For a second DUI offense in 5 years, If you fail to request a hearing in a timely manner, or you are not successful at the hearing, your license will be suspended for 3 years without the possibility of a limited work permit. For a third or subsequent DUI offense within 5 years, if you do not request a hearing, or if you are not successful at the hearing, your license will be suspended for 5 years, without the possibility of a limited work permit.

At the Law Office of Angela M. Kinley, we advocate the rights of our clients throughout Georgia. Our firm, located in Atlanta GA, will aggressively stand up for our client’s rights. Receive a FREE initial consultation about your case with an experienced attorney. Contact me today!