DUIs are serious offenses in Georgia. There are consequences from a DUI arrest in the short term and the long term. An Atlanta DUI attorney is helpful because he or she has the knowledge to defend a person, to protect their rights, and to preserve their privilege to drive in the state of Georgia.
An Atlanta DUI lawyer can protect a person and guide them through this intimidating process. One function of a DUI lawyer is to push back on the prosecutors who represent the State of Georgia. The prosecutor’s job is to zealously pursue a conviction. The prosecutor and the police officer who made the arrest work together to try to convict the person charged with DUI. A criminal defense lawyer pushes back and zealously represents his client.
DUI is the only crime where the witness to the crime is almost always a police officer who is an expert trained in recognizing that type of crime. Officers go through extensive training to gain their expertise in DUI. An attorney who has the training and experience and knowledge of the law and the science behind DUI can often be the difference in successful resolution of their client’s case.
Knowing the science and the law behind Driving Under the Influence in Georgia helps the attorney recognize whether the officer is properly trained and knows his or her case. For example, if someone is injured, a police officer should provide them medical attention first and foremost. If the officer fails to do so, that may open up an avenue for a lawyer to argue for dismissal of a charge. Having an attorney who knows DUI better than the officer and oftentimes better than the prosecutor is a pattern for a successful result of a DUI arrest.
It doesn’t take much for an officer to pull a driver over, gather evidence, and place them under arrest in Atlanta, Georgia. The mere odor of alcohol, coupled with a stop for a non-moving violation such as failure to dim headlights can result in a DUI arrest. Officers have their suspicion about anyone they stop after a minor traffic violation. They are looking for the signs of intoxication to make their case. From the moment the officer begins speaking with the driver after a traffic stop, the police officer is trying to determine if there is probable cause to make an arrest for DUI.
The minimum blood alcohol content required to convict is often a misconception. People often think the blood alcohol concentration of below 0.08 limit will protect them. Unfortunately, in Georgia, there is a second DUI crime besides the 0.08 percent limit called the “DUI Less Safe” crime. Under DUI Less Safe, a driver can be charged with a BAC (or Blood Alcohol Content) of a minimum of 0.05 percent. That means when a driver is actually below the per se limit, the prosecutor may still move forward with a case against you even when you only had a little more than a couple of drinks. An experienced Atlanta DUI lawyer is often the difference between success and a conviction when navigating the dangers of a below the legal limit DUI.
Roadblocks are not as common especially inside the perimeter here in Atlanta. Some of the most common locations for DUI stops and checkpoints occur between the Buckhead and Midtown areas of Atlanta. The Piedmont Road area in Lindbergh is a focus for DUI arrests. There is also a high volume of arrests at Roswell Road near Piedmont Road. The high volume of arrests in these areas is because the stretch between Buckhead and Midtown is where most of Atlanta’s youthful nightlife takes place.
Atlanta is a driver’s city. Public transportation is sparse in Atlanta, so people often rely on their vehicles to get from home to the restaurants and bars and back. The State Patrol, Atlanta Police and law enforcement from the surrounding counties and municipalities like Gwinnett County, Cobb County, DeKalb County, Decatur, Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Lilburn, Sandy Springs, Roswell, Alpharetta know this. They know that Atlanta is a car town and focus on these areas where the nightlife takes place. They wait and watch for minor traffic infractions to make a case with very little evidence.
A first time conviction for a DUI faces a minimum of twenty-four hours in jail, a $300 fine, state mandated alcohol or drug evaluation programs, and state mandated DUI School, also called the Risk Reduction class. Over the years, the Georgia State Legislature added Statutory Surcharges and fees to support statewide programs related to projects such as Road Improvement and the Brain and Neurological Injury Trust. This almost doubles the fines in the DUI case. The minimum of $300 quickly doubles to $600 or so.
Georgia law also requires a minimum of forty hours of community service on a first time conviction. Many courts in the Atlanta area add a Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel and other terms and conditions to supplement the laws minimum requirements.
As with anything unknown and unfamiliar, a DUI charge is even scarier because there are consequences to an individual’s ability to drive, possibly their job, insurance rates, and social stigma from being arrested by the police for Driving Under the Influence. A person faces the possibility of having a permanent criminal record and for being someone convicted of a DUI.
The penalty for a first lifetime DUI in Georgia is up to one year in jail. However, the reality is that most people do not face significant jail time for a first time DUI, but Georgia law requires a minimum of twenty-four hours in jail the first time. In addition to jail, other punishment includes extensive fines, DUI schools, substance abuse treatments, hours of community service, and drug and alcohol testing.
An Atlanta DUI lawyer familiar with the court venue where a person’s case evolves knows the judge and the prosecutors. The attorney also knows about kinds of deals and how to mold negotiations for the benefit of their client charged with DUI. The attorney knows what kind of case needs to be taken to trial when the facts are in their client’s favor. The attorney also knows when to recommend that the person should take a plea and end the unfortunate experience of the DUI case. Ultimately, the decision on when to plea or to go to trial is the client’s decision, and the attorney will do as the client decides.
Furthermore, knowledge of the area is crucial in a DUI case. Knowing things like the hotbeds of DUI arrests can be of tremendous benefit. Also, it is helpful when the attorney understands why people fail to maintain their lane in the area of town where the person was stopped for suspicion of a DUI.