If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs in Georgia, many jurisdictions within the State offer an alternative treatment program commonly referred to as "DUI Court." Before entering into this treatment program, it is important to understand the strict rules to which you must follow.
There are many benefits associated with DUI Court, but there are also penalties associated with violations of the program's rules. An investigation of the unique facts of your case by an experienced Georgia DUI attorney is necessary before you enter into this treatment program.
Differences Between DUI Court and Typical DUI Probation
DUI Court exists as an alternative program to DUI Probation, which is typically reserved for repeat offenders. If a prosecutor or judge decides that your DUI is the result of a substance abuse problem, you may be eligible.
Typical DUI Probation
DUI Probation typically does not involve significant contact with the probationer. Probation does come with certain conditions that the probationer must comply with and complete, although not to the same level as a DUI Court requires. Often, DUI probationers must complete drug and alcohol dependency screenings, are subject to territorial travel limitations, and are forbidden from consuming intoxicating substances. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in further punishment or revocation of your probation.
DUI Courts are characterized by intense supervision and strictly enforced requirements. They are zero tolerance programs overseen by a State or Superior Court Judge. You cannot be forced into a DUI Court, rather, you must enter the program voluntarily. The programs have fees, weekly treatments, and bi-weekly court appearance requirements. The DUI Court "team" usually consists of:
- Defense Attorney
- Probation Officer(s)
- Representative of Law Enforcement
- DUI Court Coordinator
- Treatment Team Members.
In the DUI Court, these team members coordinate their efforts to review and guide DUI offenders through the treatment process, reward successes, and address rule violations with punishments or "sanctions." Drug Courts are usually arranged into phases. The first phase is typically the most intensive, with program participants moving up in the phases until graduation approximately one year after entering the program.
DUI Court participants are usually required to sign a 4th Amendment waiver which permits law enforcement to search their homes and vehicles without a warrant. It is critically important that you are not late to or miss any appointments, meetings, or court appearances. Any violation can result not only in your expulsion from the program but further sanctions including fines and imprisonment.
The Good News - Benefits of DUI Court
While there are negatives associated with DUI Court if you do not strictly follow the guidelines, graduation from the program can benefit you and your case. Successful completion can mean shorter jail sentences and lower fines as compared to those in the regular DUI process.
You may be able to transfer to a DUI Court in the jurisdiction in which you live if a DUI Court program exists in that jurisdiction. DUI Court team members are also able to work with the Georgia Department of Driver's Services towards reinstatement of your driving privileges.
However, just because you complete the program successfully does not mean that your charges can be reduced or dismissed, nor can they be erased from your criminal history.
Choosing What's Right For You
Knowing whether DUI Court is right for you depends on the unique factual circumstances of your case. Before entering into the program, it is crucial that you consult with a highly experienced Georgia DUI attorney. Contact us today for a free consultation.