DUI Lawyer Atlanta
Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are considered criminal offenses in the state of Georgia. If an Atlanta driver’s blood alcohol content exceeds the legal level between 0.05% and 0.08%, depending on the jurisdiction, that driver can be convicted. Some jurisdictions have an aggravated category of the offense when the blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds 0.12%.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 2010, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you’re charged with a DUI, the court process can be long and exhausting. Normally, there are several hearings, the first being at the Department of Motor Vehicles, with the final hearing ending at the Municipal, County, or State Court.
A DUI is a crime with very serious penalties and is not something to take lightly. A DUI lawyer represents a person arrested and charged with a DUI or DWI and has very specific skills to fight for their clients successfully.
Based on national statistics, an average of over 2,300 people a day get arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in America, and many ask themselves the question, “Do I need a lawyer for DUI?” The answer is that hiring an Atlanta DUI attorney is always advisable.
DUI and DWI Differences in Georgia
DUI stands for driving under the influence and it is charged to drivers who operate a vehicle after consuming drugs or alcohol. DWI stands for driving while intoxicated and sometimes prescription drugs qualify. DWI generally refers to a driver under the influence of alcohol.
In some states a DUI or DWI is interchangeable. Some states differentiate between DUI and DWI. In these states, DUI is a lesser charge signifying a lower blood alcohol concentration. The state of Georgia does not differentiate between the two. DUI is used because it encompasses the use of both drugs and alcohol. Impaired drivers may be charged with a Georgia DUI even if they have a BAC lower than 0.08.
Georgia DUI accident victims may file civil claims against any drunk driver and their insurance company, in addition to the criminal charges they already face. DUI victims may sue for damages including:
- Medical expenses
- Property damage
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
Atlanta DUI attorneys can help you prepare your drunk driving defense and will work to have your DUI criminal charges dropped or reduced. DUI and DWI cases are very different from your everyday traffic violations and are considered serious traffic offenses.
You and your DUI defense lawyer need to understand the criminal law, civil law, and Georgia DUI law that will affect your claim. Speak with an experienced GA DUI lawyer at Henningsen Injury Attorneys for answers to your DUI defense questions and to get a better understanding of Georgia DUI law.
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Georgia DUI Laws
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), intoxicated or drugged drivers put themselves and others at risk over 110 million times each year. However, DUI detection is low because police arrest fewer than 1 million people annually for Georgia DUI cases.
Driving under the influence is considered a misdemeanor in Georgia. Drivers who are charged may lose driving privileges, be fined, or face jail time. However, drivers who cause accidents while under the influence may face felony charges – especially if the accident causes serious injury or death.
Some facing a DUI charge don’t realize that they are also subject to other potential charges depending on the situation, which include:
- Refusal to comply
- Failure to stop after an accident
- Dangerous driving
- Criminal negligence
- Driving with a suspended license
- Reckless driving
- Vehicular homicide
The law is never simple, so hiring a DUI alcohol lawyer could be in your best interest. The above charges can lead to license suspensions, so speak with GA DUI attorneys whenever you’re facing a DUI arrest.
Is a DUI Considered a Felony in GA?
Generally, a DUI is considered a misdemeanor in Georgia. However, if you have been charged with a fourth or subsequent conviction within 10 years, measured from the date of your first arrest, a DUI prosecutor can charge you with a DUI Georgia felony.
Georgia vehicular homicide can be both a felony and a misdemeanor. A felony-grade vehicular homicide charge occurs when a death is the result of a DUI or reckless driving. Convictions of felony-grade vehicular homicide in GA may warrant up to 15 years in prison.
The lookback period for DUI offenses in Georgia is 10 years. This means that if you are arrested and charged for DUI within 10 years of your first conviction, you will be charged as a second offender, and the penalties increase with each DUI conviction.
Felony DUIs are not common and are potentially serious offenses. Therefore, you need to speak with an experienced Atlanta DUI lawyer at Henningsen Injury Attorneys. DUI attorneys have experience navigating such cases and can sometimes have a felony DUI reduced to a misdemeanor offense that is not a violation of O.C.G.A. Section 40-6-391.
Georgia has no expungement law and a criminal offense will not be removed from your record. You will always have to explain to future employers, college admission officials, and car rental companies that you got a DUI 10, 20, or even 30 years ago. That’s why it’s important to speak with an Atlanta DUI lawyer about your DUI defense options.
Can a Lawyer Get a DUI Dropped?
What happens in your DUI defense case will depend heavily on the details of your case. Each case is different but skillful DUI attorneys can often get a DUI charge dropped. Or they can reduce the severity of the penalties, such as having the license suspension removed.
DUI lawyers can investigate the procedures used to conduct your breathalyzer tests and if they’re deemed faulty or have inconsistent results, then your case could be dropped or reduced. They also can investigate whether or not the law enforcement officers or DUI prosecutor breached your constitutional rights and have the breathalyzer evidence excluded.
The DUI prosecutor may be willing to negotiate the penalties downward if the driver’s blood-alcohol level is just above the legal limit or there are other compelling factors. Some criminal defense attorneys have had to take their cases to the Georgia Supreme Court to protect their client’s rights.
The legal maneuvering of your Georgia DUI lawyer could convince the prosecutor to offer a plea to a lesser sentence and help you avoid the mandatory minimums of a DUI charge. Hiring an experienced DUI attorney can help you get the representation you deserve and shore up your DUI defense.
Is a Georgia DUI Attorney Necessary?
Georgia is the second most punitive state for DUI charges after Arizona. Atlanta, GA has some of the toughest driver’s license suspension rules in the country, especially for DUI refusal. The majority of jurisdictions in the United States offer no DUI expungement, or probation before judgment, or DUI diversion, or youthful offender alternative sentence or any other path to not putting a drunk driving conviction on your criminal history, except fighting the case or entering a guilty plea to driving while impaired.
A DUI Georgia conviction for driving under the influence will remain on your criminal record forever. In these states, you need to contact a DUI law firm with an impressive record of criminal defense lawyer DUI trials and victories.
In Georgia, a DUI conviction will result in automatic suspension of your privilege to drive. A DUI conviction on someone’s criminal record can never be expunged or removed.
A Georgia DUI on someone’s record makes it difficult for them to get a job, apply to school, or renew a professional license. The Governor of Georgia does not have pardoning power so pardons are not an option either.
Record Restriction in Georgia
If you were not convicted of DUI and your case was dismissed, then you have an alternative. You can apply for a record restriction in Georgia, but record restriction is not the same as expungement.
Record restriction does not automatically happen if your case is dismissed. Your criminal record will show that your DUI arrest was “dismissed” but the record restriction application is a separate step. The only way the DUI prosecutor will consider record restriction is if your DUI charge has been dismissed.
When your DUI record is successfully restricted, private businesses will not be able to see the arrest. However, government agencies, police officers, and prosecutors can still see the offense. If you are charged again, both the prosecution and the judge can use it against you in sentencing. The penalties for repeat offenders and first-time GA DUI offenders are very different.
First Georgia DUI Offense
All Georgia DUI offenses pose the risk that the accused citizen will have a permanent, lifetime criminal record, even the first. Most DUI arrests (90%) in GA are only a misdemeanor criminal offense, the lifetime record implications can be devastating for certain types of employment, and limit your access to certain resources.
Every repeat DUI offense ramps up punishment, and these increases in DUI penalties are dramatic:
- A first DUI misdemeanor offense carries a sentence of 24 hrs in jail – one year in prison, 40 hours of community service, and a fine of up to $1000.
- A second DUI misdemeanor offense carries a sentence of 72 hrs in jail – one year in prison, 240 hours of community service, and a fine of up to $1000.
- A third DUI misdemeanor offense carries a sentence of 15 days in jail – one year in prison, 240 hours of community service, and a fine of up to $5000.
- A fourth DUI offense is a felony, carries a sentence of up to 5 years in prison, 480 hours of community service, and a fine of up to $5000.
What are the Chances of Winning a DUI Case?
Your chances of winning or losing your DUI case will vary according to the details of your situation. Adept legal representation can use the following legalities of your case to your advantage:
- Illegal tests by the authorities, meaning that your blood was withdrawn without your consent or a warrant
- Illegal seizures and examinations by the authorities, meaning the police did not have probable cause, a warrant, or your consent
- Violation of your rights, for example, you were prevented or delayed from speaking with a DUI defense attorney or criminal defense attorney
The DUI law firm that you choose will often have a profound effect on the outcome of your claim. The right DUI attorney will know the prosecutors and judges in your Atlanta municipal, Georgia County, or State court. Your DUI attorney will collaborate with other professionals to advocate on your behalf.
Depending on where your arrest was made and by what legal entity, it is possible for your case to be heard in a municipal court rather than a county court. There are specific requirements and procedures that law enforcement and the State must adhere to in order to achieve a conviction for DUI.
They can also pull from their experience which helps them understand how the prosecutor and judge may respond to the details of your case, and use the nuances of GA DUI laws to protect you. Having someone who knows the law and the tendencies of the prosecutor or judge can work in your favor.
Atlanta DUI Costs
Each year, Georgia has more than 200,000 DUI arrests and approximately 11,773 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in one year; that’s one drunk driving death every 45 minutes. The penalties and costs associated with this crime are harsh because Georgia officials want to discourage driving under the influence.
Here are some of the costs associated with DUI arrests:
- An alcohol evaluation will cost $95 – $300 and is required for anyone who is sentenced by the court for drunken driving.
- Alcohol education and treatment costs range between $500 – $4,000 for basic treatment. If you are convicted for a DUI in GA, you may be ordered to go through an education or treatment program, especially when your license has been suspended.
- Bail costs may range between $150 – $2,500 depending on your blood alcohol level and how many offenses you’ve accrued.
- Fines for a DUI can cost you between $300 and $5000 depending on your offense and criminal history.
- Insurance costs can range between $4,500 or more because one of the harshest hits a drunken driver takes is with their insurance premiums. A DUI could affect your insurance rates for three to five years and your rates may double because companies will classify your policy as “high-risk.”
- Legal fees could cost you anywhere between $2,000- $25,000 depending on how long your case takes, and what’s required.
- Reinstating your license after a DUI can cost $210 – $410. After you have completed a state-certified risk reduction program, which costs $287, you can reinstate your Georgia driver’s license for a fee of $210 – $410.
- Towing costs can be between $50 – $200 and the cost of towing and impounding a car will add up daily. Some cities may auction your car to the highest bidder if you can not afford to get your car back after 30 days.
DUI arrests and convictions cost money, time, and can lead to job loss or prevent future employment opportunities. That’s why it’s important to find a Georgia DUI lawyer who can support your claim while working efficiently to protect your wallet and your rights.
DUI Lawyer Costs
The costs of hiring a good lawyer outweigh the costs of a conviction because a skilled attorney can prevent you from losing your driver’s license or being charged with a more serious crime like vehicular manslaughter.
The expenses involved in a DUI case depend on several factors, such as:
- The amount of time your lawyer spends on your case
- The number of trial days required
- The amount of disclosure, reports, and witnesses needed
- Hiring experts to advocate or testify on your behalf
Your DUI law firm should be able to provide a retainer agreement that sets out the fees and services you can expect to pay. This can help you to prepare and allocate the funds ahead of time.
What to Do If Charged With DUI
Working with a Georgia DUI defense attorney who knows the law and can effectively represent you in the defense of your case can be pivotal to defending your rights. At Henningsen Injury Attorneys we offer a FREE lawyer consultation.
A drunk or drugged driving conviction can impact your future, but being arrested and charged with a DUI does not mean that you have to be found guilty in court.
Securing a lawyer is an investment in your defense that could pay off dividends for your future.
At Henningsen Injury Attorneys we can use your free consultation to review the details of your DUI case, answer your questions, and provide you with an estimate of the costs.
Why Choose Henningsen Injury Attorneys for GA DUIs
Attorney Todd Henningsen is an Atlanta-based DUI and personal injury lawyer. He is a member of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, Southern Trial Lawyers Association, and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association.
He has been admitted to the State Bar of Georgia and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Most importantly, he has a proven track record in DUI cases, vehicular homicide cases, and has recovered millions of dollars for his clients.
Take the first step and call our Atlanta injury firm today!