Dunwoody DUI Lawyer - Dunwoody DUI Attorney
HIRE A FORMER DUI PROSECUTOR TO REPRESENT YOU ON YOUR DUNWOODY DUI CASE.
Every year, in Dunwoody and across the State of Georgia, thousands of people are cited for DUI. The sheer number of DUIs in Georgia and across the nation results in hundreds of thousands of jury trials and court hearings.
Because of the huge number of court cases, many DUIs are appealed each year, resulting in conflicting case law and a convoluted quagmire of laws, regulations and court decisions. As such, if you are arrested for a DUI in Dunwoody Georgia, you will need representation from a DUI Lawyer with specific experience in handling DUI cases.
Richard Lawson is a former prosecutor that was trained as a trial attorney by the very prosecutors who are trying to convict you of DUI. This valuable experience gives him an insight into the prosecution's case that most defense attorneys simply do not have.
He uses his experience as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney to see potential defenses against the DUI. He sees the holes in the police officer's testimony because he spent years in trial trying to help the police officers hold up under defense attorney attacks. He knows the prosecutors, the judges, and the police officers.
Armed with this experience and knowledge, Richard Lawson is one of the most effective and highly rated DUI Defense Attorneys in the State of Georgia. His reviews and ranking on AVVO are excellent. His client's comments are outstanding and his ability to help you navigate the murky waters of a DUI case is unparalleled.
After over twenty years of DUI defense, Richard Lawson is one of the most experienced Georgia DUI Attorneys this state has to offer. He has assembled a team of attorneys and support staff that will help minimize the disruption to your life that a DUI can cause.
RICHARD LAWSON IS ONE OF THE MOST HIGHLY RATED DUI DEFENSE ATTORNEYS IN DUNWOODY GEORGIA
Every DUI case is actually two cases...a court case, and an ADMINISTRATIVE LICENSE SUSPENSION case. The Administrative License Suspension or ALS case starts with your THIRTY-DAY LETTER.
When you receive your DUI charges, you will get a thirty-day letter from Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS). It will explain that you only have thirty days to file a request for a hearing (along with $150) before your Georgia Driver's License is AUTOMATICALLY SUSPENDED.
Driving in the State of Georgia is seen as a privilege, not a right. The State allows you to maintain your driving privileges providing you comply with various rules and regulations. Receiving a DUI charge, whether you're found guilty or not, is one of those violations.
If you were stopped and arrested for DUI, the officer who arrested you attempted to give you a blood, breath or urine test. If you took the test, no matter what the results were, you will be subject to at least a 30 day suspension of your license. This thirty day suspension can be coupled with a restricted or limited permit or license, which would allow you to travel to and from work or school.
You are required, by Georgia law to take a test of the officer's choosing after you are placed under arrest for DUI. There are no exceptions. If you refused to take the required test, your penalty will be a longer suspension. At least a one year suspension with no hope of receiving a restricted license for limited travel. This can pose serious consequences to your livelihood and your family. For this reason, you or your attorney must file a request for an ALS hearing IMMEDIATELY after you have received a DUI charge.
TWO SEPARATE DUI CHARGES
If you look at your actual citation, you will see that when you are charged with a DUI, you generally have TWO charges against you. Oftentimes, you will be charged with a DUI, or Driving in the Influence, along with a BAC charge.
A DUI charge means essentially that the State is alleging that you were driving a motor vehicle (or boat or bike, etc.) while under the influence of alcohol (or drugs) AND IMPAIRED TO THE SLIGHTEST DEGREE. This is known as the DUI Less Safe charge.
The evidence that the prosecutor will use to prove you are guilty of this charge will include things like the officer's testimony that you were driving the vehicle, your admission that you'd been drinking and the smell of alcohol that the officer noticed and wrote in his police report. The evidence that you were impaired will come from the notes the officer made about your behavior once he stopped you, and after he asked you to step out of the vehicle.
When he asked you to step out of the vehicle, he made notes about how you did it...did you use the door to push yourself up? Did it seem difficult for you to stand? Did you lean against the car? Did you move back and forth from one foot to the other?
The evidence the officer is collecting is aimed entirely at convicting you for DUI. There will be little to no mitigating evidence collected or reported. The officer's job is not to help your side, it is to aid the prosecution in achieving a guilty verdict. He is looking for any evidence that would tend to show you were a less safe driver due to the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs.
THIS IS WHY YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED DUNWOODY DUI LAWYER TO REPRESENT YOU.
Richard Lawson and his associates can ensure that your side of the story gets just as much attention as the officers'. Once you are out of the vehicle most officers will move into what are called the "field sobriety tests." These are voluntary tests that you are not required to submit to. Of course, the officer isn't going to tell you that you can decline, and he's not going to call them VOLUNTARY FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS.
During the Walk-and-Turn test you will be asked to walk a line (sometimes an imaginary line), heel to toe, do a pivot turn at the end and then walk the line back to the start, for a specified number of steps. One step off the line, one step that is not heel to toe, one bobble on the pivot turn...those three mistakes mean that you failed the test.
The One-Leg Stand test will require you to stand on one leg, other foot raised off the ground 12-18 inches, toe pointed, hands at your side, while you count to 30 or some other number chosen by the officer. A slight sway, a dip in your foot, and a raise of your hands mean you have also flunked this test.
As you can see, it's pretty easy to 'fail' these tests, but an experienced DUI Attorney like Richard Lawson can present evidence to the judge or jury that your 'mistakes' aren't really DUI cues at all, or prove that these 'tests' aren't actually very scientific and that the inherent bias in an officer's recording of your performance means that the results should be disregarded completely.
For the State, proving the DUI Less Safe charge is one of the more difficult parts of any DUI case, and Richard Lawson will hold them to the fire and make them jump through every hoop imaginable. Everyone at our office is certified in Standardized Field Sobriety testing and uses that knowledge to hold the arresting officer to the highest standards of interpretation of those tests.
The second DUI charge is what's known as the BAC charge, or Blood Alcohol Content charge. This is the reason they required you to take a blood, breath or urine test. The short name for this is the "Per Se" charge.
For this charge, the State must prove that you were operating a motor vehicle, with a Blood Alcohol Content over the legal limit of .08.
These charges are much simpler for the State to prove, but they rely solely on the testing procedures and machines. Each machine also requires quarterly maintenance and quality assurance checks. Records of those checks are kept with the local prosecuting agencies. Your DUI attorney must know where to go to make sure the machine the officer forced you to use had its maintenance in a timely manner and that it was performing satisfactorily when it was tested. Your attorney not only needs to know where to go to get the records, he also needs to know how to tear them apart in court. Oftentimes a particular machine can stay in service, not working correctly, until some defense attorney points out that the margin of error on it has greatly exceeded that allowable!
In addition, experts can be hired to challenge the admissibility and accuracy of the State's breath testing machine. No one is considered automatically guilty, even when there is a breath test result above the legal limit.
The truth is, there are hundreds of different ways to handle the evidence in a DUI trial. You need representation from a DUI Attorney in Dunwoody that knows what to do in any particular case.
THE COURT PROCESS IN GEORGIA
The Court process in Georgia is a fragmented and confusing system. Which court you report to depends on what county you are cited in and where in the county you actually get arrested. In Dekalb County, Georgia if you were cited in one of the major municipalities, such as Dunwoody, you will appear in the Municipal Court for that town. If your case is set for jury trial, it will be moved over to DeKalb County State Court.
If you are cited outside the city limits of one of those cities, within DeKalb County, you will appear directly in DeKalb County State Court.
If you are charged with a felony, your case will be sent to DeKalb County Superior Court.
DUNWOODY MUNICIPAL COURT
DEKALB COUNTY STATE COURT
DEKALB COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT
The City of Dunwoody's Process for DUI Cases
Dunwoody Municipal Court hears cases involving certain misdemeanor offenses, traffic offenses, and local ordinance violations that occur within the City of Dunwoody. Misdemeanor DUI offenses are also handled by the court.
Certain offenses may be punished only by a fine which can be paid prior to the court date. If you fail to pay your citation prior to your court date and miss your scheduled court appearance, you will be placed in “failure to appear” status and must make payments in person at the Municipal Court. If you have been charged with a “must appear” offense such as DUI, shoplifting, possession of marijuana, disorderly conduct, suspended license, or no insurance you cannot pay your fine prior to your court date and you must appear before a judge to resolve your case.
Your first court date will be listed on the citation issued by the police officer or on your bond paperwork. Your first appearance is an arraignment. Dunwoody Municipal Court has arraignments each week on Tuesdays at 8:30 am and Wednesdays at 6:00 pm and every other Thursday at 1:00 pm. When you check in for court, you will be asked how you wish to plead to the charges against you. Defendants are asked to sit in certain areas depending on how they intend to resolve their case that day.
You may also request a pretrial conference with the solicitor to discuss your case, your options, and negotiate a plea bargain. The judge will call the calendar once court begins by reading off each defendant's name and again asking how you wish to plead to the charges. You may plead guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere or you can request a pretrial conference at that time if you have not already done so. If you decide to plead guilty or nolo contendere, the judge will enter a sentence and your case will be closed.
Any evidence that may available in your case may be requested through an open-records request made to the Dunwoody Police Department. Evidence may include accident or incident reports or the patrol car video recorded by the officer. There is a small fee required for police records, and requests should mention the specific records you are requesting. Include the case number, the full name of the individuals involved, date of the incident, the name of the officer, and a phone number where you can be contacted. The records should be made available within 3 to 5 business days.
After reviewing the evidence, your attorney may identify defenses to the charges against you and use those defenses to negotiate a favorable plea bargain in your case which may include a plea to a reduced charge. Depending on the charges involved, sentences will likely include some combination of a fine, community service, probation, DUI classes, or counseling.
If the case cannot be resolved by a plea, the case will be scheduled for trial. All local ordinance violations without an equivalent state law must be tried in the Dunwoody Municipal Court. Bench trials are held on the last Wednesday of each month at 6:00 pm. This is to allow for any witnesses to be subpoenaed to testify at the trial and for any other evidence to be collected and reviewed prior to trial.
State law misdemeanors can be heard in the Dunwoody Municipal Court or transferred to the DeKalb County State Court for a jury trial. The Municipal Court does not have jurisdiction to hold jury trials and so the case must be transferred if one is requested. It may take several months for the case to be accused by the prosecutor in the DeKalb County State Court. At that time, it will be assigned to a judge and the case will start fresh in the State Court.
If you were charged with DUI, you will likely have a companion administrative hearing regarding a driver's license suspension due to a violation of Georgia's implied consent statute. Georgia law requires you to submit to chemical testing of your breath, blood, or urine to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs if you are arrested for DUI. Your Georgia driver's license or privilege to drive within this state may be suspended if you refuse to submit to the requested testing or if the results of a State-administered test show that your blood alcohol concentration was 0.08 grams percent or more at the time of arrest.
This administrative license suspension goes into effect 30 days after the arrest, but may be appealed within thirty business days of your arrest. If timely appealed, the suspension will be stayed and an administrative hearing will be scheduled. This hearing is held at 230 Peachtree Street in Atlanta every month. Judge Walker-Russell presides over DeKalb County administrative license suspension hearings.
The hearing is limited in scope and only covers the following issues:
- Whether the officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person was operating or in actual physical control of a moving motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and was lawfully placed under arrest for DUI; or
- Whether the person was involved in a motor vehicle accident or collision resulting in serious injury or fatality; and
- Whether the officer informed the person of his or her implied consent rights at the time a test was requested; and
- Whether the person refused the test; or
- Whether a test was administered and the results indicated a BAC of 0.08 grams or more or, if the person is under the age of 21, a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 grams or more or, if the person was driving a commercial vehicle, a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 grams or more; and
- Whether the test was properly administered.
The arresting officer and the officer who administered the test (if a test was given) are required to appear. If the arresting officer or the testing officers are not present at the hearing, the license suspension will be reversed and will not go into effect. If the officer appears at the hearing, you may be able to negotiate with the officer to withdraw his or her request for the license suspension. Any agreement you enter into with the officer can have an affect on your options in the criminal case. If you are unable to come to an agreement, a hearing will be held and the suspension will either be affirmed or reversed by Judge Walker-Russell.
As mentioned previously, your court case begins with an arraignment, or initial appearance. If you have hired the Law Office of Richard Lawson to represent you, we will file paperwork with the court letting them know that we are representing you and that you intend, at this early stage of the case, to plead NOT GUILTY. That means that you will not have to come to court for the arraignment and that you do not have to take time off from work or school or find daycare.
After we file our Notice of Appearance, we will immediately begin working on and analyzing your case. We will get copies of all the relevant police reports, any taped statements or videos that may have been taken during the investigation, and copies of the testimony of the officer if you had an ALS Hearing. Once we begin compiling our case, we will have an idea of exactly what evidence the State has collected and can begin negotiations with the prosecutor. At this point, we will need to sit down with you to go over the case in detail. If we are representing you, we feel that you must understand each piece of evidence the State may use against you so that you can get an idea of what your case looks like. We value our ability to communicate with our clients in helping them understand the system and every part of their case.
Our representation of you is not a one-sided endeavor. We rely on your input and your opinion in determining how best to defend you. We cannot win your case without you!
The court case will proceed through several different stages, from arraignment, through pretrial, to trial. Descriptions of each of these stages can be found on our website and will give you an idea of what takes place during each. Of course, we will also be speaking with you and meeting you, either in person or telephonically, throughout your court case and will be available to answer questions at any time about court hearings, plea negotiations, evidence, and any other developments in your case. Again, we are a 'hands-on' law firm and we take pride in the high level of communication we maintain with our clients.
You DO NOT want to hire an attorney who does not return phone calls within a day or two or one who does not employ an educated staff that can answer most questions quickly and accurately.
We understand that a DUI case can cause stress in your personal life, your family and your job. It is easy during these times to make a bad decision when considering whether to hire an attorney to represent you and once you decide to hire one...which one?
The Law Office of Richard Lawson are here to guide you through this complicated process and offer a free consultation to discuss your case to help you determine how you would like to handle it.
Hire one of the Top-Rated DUI Attorneys in Dunwoody Georgia today!
INFORMATION ON DUI LAWS IN GEORGIA
This website is a valuable resource when researching DUI laws in Georgia. Most of the offenses related to DUIs are listed, as are common DUI defenses, and information on DUI sanctions and penalties. In addition, Richard maintains a DUI blog with information on various topics, including latest developments in DUI law and well-known cases.
We are here twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and are available on holidays, as well. We are fully aware that DUIs happen at the most inconvenient times and so have set up our office with an 'on-call' system that allows messages at odd hours to be forwarded to one of our attorneys and returned almost immediately. We do not want to leave you hanging in the middle of a DUI investigation, should you need our advice. We also do not feel you should have to wait until Monday morning to have your DUI questions answered. We also offer free consultations 24 hours a day.
As mentioned earlier, we want to avoid as much of the disruption to your life a DUI causes, as possible. Contact us today for immediate help.
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