Being a Celebrity or Athlete Does Not Always Mean Special Treatment

Posted by Richard Lawson | Apr 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

Former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver, Roddy White, made front page news for being arrested on two charges: an HOV lane violation and driving on a suspended license in Gwinnett County.

In most situations, a person may have their license suspended when to forget to pay a traffic ticket or get too many points on their license.  Sometimes someone's license may be suspended for having their insurance lapse.

The point is, a suspended license is usually the result of a minor traffic misdemeanor or mistake that anyone can potentially make. For ordinary people, that could result in an arrest and a major inconvenience. That being said, it would not get you on the front page of a major newspaper.

It is times like this when it is clear and apparent that being a celebrity or athlete results in disproportionally unfair news coverage. For most of my clients, such an arrest for driving on a suspended license would not result in any media coverage or exposure. For Roddy White, he is front page news.

As a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I will outline the offense that resulted in White's arrest: driving on a suspended license in today's post.

Driving on a Suspended License in Georgia

Driving on a Suspended License in Georgia is defined in O.C.G.A. §40-5-121 as:

Except when a license has been revoked under Code Section 40-5-58 as a habitual violator, any person who drives a motor vehicle on any public highway of this state without being licensed as required by subsection (a) of Code Section 40-5-20 or at a time when his or her privilege to so drive is suspended, disqualified, or revoked shall be guilty of a misdemeanor for a first conviction thereof and, upon a first conviction thereof or plea of nolo contendere within five years, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained or a plea of nolo contendere is accepted, shall be fingerprinted and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than two days nor more than 12 months, and there may be imposed in addition thereto a fine of not less than $500.00 nor more than $1,000.00.

Simply put - this is law results in what we refer as the never-ending suspended license cycle.  You get a suspended license for a DUI in Georgia, or for failing to pay a traffic ticket.  Then you are found guilty of the suspended license, and it causes yet another suspended license.  As a result, your license suspension is extended by a minimum of another 6 months. So, then each and every arrest and conviction results in a further suspension of your drivers license.

Practice Note

This is very unfortunate. I do not know Mr. White - neither am I his attorney. However, the level of this offense does not warrant a front page story.

Suspended license is a strict liability offense that has no intent element.  As argued, it is usually the result in a mistake.  It can be the result of being convicted of a prior serious offense, but that is not the situation in this case.  Roddy White has never been charged with DUI in Georgia or any other serious traffic offense such as Reckless Driving in Georgia.

Yes, he has clearly made a mistake here, but this should not have resulted in such media attention.  I feel bad for him and others unfairly portrayed in a news culture that needs to fill news 24 hours a day.

If you or a loved one has been arrested, contact our offices today.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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