Hall County DUI Lawyer - Hall County DUI Attorney
Hall County DUI Defense
Getting charged with a DUI in Hall County can happen to anyone. Many people who have never been in trouble with the law before find themselves facing DUI charges. It is important to remember that even if this is your first time facing any sort of charges, a DUI conviction can have some serious consequences. First time offenders can get sentenced to jail time, high fines and fees, probation and more! You will need to get the best Hall County DUI Attorney to fight for your rights and make sure you get the best results possible in your DUI case. We are your resource for Hall County DUI Defense. We are your resource for DUI Information in Georgia.
The Law Office of Richard Lawson has been working with DUI clients in Hall County for over 25 years. He is a Former Georgia DUI Prosecutor who is also the most reviewed Georgia DUI Lawyer. His reviews can be found on AVVO. Our lawyers know the field of DUI and know what needs to be done to make sure you don't lose your license or experience any other unnecessary inconveniences. Best of all, you can call us 24/7 for a free legal consultation. Hall County DUI Lawyers are here to help.
Hall County 30 Day Warning!!!
Every person arrested in Georgia for DUI must have their attorney file a 30-day letter to protect their right to drive. The 30-day letter is the start of the appeal of the driver's license suspension. It, in and of itself, will not save your license. The letter requests an ALS Hearing. At the ALS Hearing, your Hall County DUI Attorney will work to save your right to drive. Without requesting this hearing or an ignition interlock device, there is no way to save your license in the event of a refusal to submit to testing.
Consequences of a Hall County DUI – Hall County DUI Penalties
Even a first offense DUI can carry severe penalties in Hall County. You can read about Georgia DUI Penalties on this website. Penalties can include probation, $1000 in fines, mandatory driving safety classes, loss of license, and even up to one year of jail time. If you have been charged with DUI, it is crucial that you seek the help of a Hall County DUI Lawyer in order to avoid the worst of these sentences. Any of these punishments can have a serious effect on your life. For example, in most cases you will be sentenced to a minimum of 40 hours of community service that must be completed within a certain time frame. It will be up to you to take the time out of your work, school and personal life to complete this requirement as well as arrange your own transportation. For many people a DUI is their first and only experience with the legal system. It is important for them to get experienced legal help to guide them through the process. Experienced Hall County DUI Lawyers can help you avoid unnecessary Georgia DUI Consequences.
If you are being charged with a 2nd DUI offense or 3rd DUI offense, you are probably aware of the even greater penalties. You could lose your license for 3 to 5 years and when you finally do get it reinstated, you would be required to install a ignition interlock device in your vehicle. You could also be looking at high fines, probation, community service, alcohol/drug treatment, and a year in jail! Numerous DUI convictions stay on your record forever; they cause insurance rates to go up and can have negative effects on future job or educational ventures. The Law Office of Richard Lawson has vast experience helping clients charged with their Second DUI in Hall County or Third DUI in Hall County, Georgia. We understand how frightening and frustrating the process can be and we will work with you to go over your case and make sure your rights were not violated during your arrest. We will fight hard to get your charges reduced or thrown out. Call us today for a free consultation. Hall County DUI Attorneys are here to fight your case.
The Hall County Court System Explained
Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs charges in Hall County may be initiated in a city municipal court, the Hall County State Court or Superior Court. The legal process in defending a DUI charge generally requires several court appearances and filings.
If you were arrested for DUI by a municipal police department in any incorporated city within Hall County, your case will likely be initiated in that city's municipal court. Municipal Courts have jurisdiction to hear misdemeanor cases, traffic offenses, and local ordinance violations. The cities of Gainesville, Flowery Branch, and Oakwood all have municipal courts within Hall County.
DUI arrests made by State Troopers with the Georgia Department of Public Safety, Hall County Sheriff's deputies, or arrests made in an unincorporated part of Hall County will likely originate in the State Court of Hall County.
Felony offenses are only heard in the Superior Court of Hall County. DUI charges are typically misdemeanor offenses, but can also be accused of felony offenses in certain circumstances. A fourth DUI within ten years (if all convictions are since 2008), DUI Serious Injury By Vehicle, Habitual Violator, and DUI Vehicular Homicide and Feticide are all felony charges.
It is generally favorable for a DUI case to begin in a municipal court. These courts are less formal and easier to work with in terms of rescheduling court appearances and are more flexible in negotiating conditions for pleas. A prosecutor in a municipal court may have more authority to approve creative sentencing options such as enrollment in a treatment program in lieu of lengthy jail sentences.
Many municipal courts within Hall County have also created programs for first time offenders as an alternative to prosecution that allow for the participants to reduce the risk of future problems with law enforcement and avoid a criminal conviction on their record. The charges are dismissed after completing the program. If you fail to complete the requirements or are charged with committing a new offense before completing the program, however, the case will proceed and the charges will be prosecuted.
One such alternative to prosecution is a Conditional Discharge plea. Gainesville Municipal Court, among many other city courts within Hall County, allows for a Conditional Discharge plea to charges of Minor in Possession of Alcohol and misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana. Conditions of the plea are determined on a case-by-case basis, but typically you will be required to pay a fine, complete 20 hours of community service, serve 3 to 12 months on probation, and attend an Alcohol and Drug Risk Reduction Course or an Alcohol Awareness Class.
One such alternative to prosecution is a Conditional Discharge plea. Gainesville Municipal Court, among many other city courts within Hall County, allows for a Conditional Discharge plea to charges of Minor in Possession of Alcohol and misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana. Conditions of the plea are determined on a case-by-case basis, but typically you will be required to pay a fine, complete 20 hours of community service, serve 3 to 12 months on probation, and attend a Alcohol and Drug Risk Reduction Course or an Alcohol Awareness Class.
Some municipal courts have specific policies in place for certain charges that are heard in that court. For instance, the prosecutor of the Gainesville Municipal Court will consult with the arresting officer in most cases before agreeing to reduce or dismiss a charge and before agreeing to a plea that varies from the court's standard conditions. This makes it very important for your attorney to develop relationships with the officers in courts that have these policies and to speak with the officer prior to your court date.
The initial court appearance will be an arraignment date. At arraignment the charges against you will be explained and the judge will advise you of your rights. You can enter a plea of not guilty, guilty, or nolo contendere. If you plead guilty or nolo contendere, you will be sentenced and your case will be resolved. If you plead not guilty, you can discuss your case with the prosecutor and attempt to negotiate a plea to a reduced charge or negotiate conditions of a plea to the current charges. If you are unable to reach an agreement, you will be asked whether you a trial by judge or jury.
If your case originates in a municipal court, you have the right to transfer your DUI case to the State Court of Hall County if you are unable to resolve your case there. Municipal courts do not have jurisdiction to hold jury trials, but since you have a Constitutional right to a trial by jury, the court will not deny a request to transfer your case to the State Court. Your case will essentially start over once it is transferred and you will be arraigned on the charges once again.
Three judges preside over the State Court of Hall County, all of whom hear DUI cases. Your first court date in the State Court of Hall County will again be an arraignment date. At arraignment a bench or jury trial must be requested. Certain motions must be filed at or before arraignment. Motion hearings are used to decide particular issues prior to trial such as what evidence or witness testimony will be admissible.
If motions are filed, your case will be put on a Motion Calendar Call. The Motion Calendar Call date allows the judge to determine which cases are still open and are likely to go forward with hearings on motions filed at your arraignment. The prosecutor must provide your attorney with all discovery prior to the Motion Calendar Call and they will discuss and try to resolve your case.
Your attorney is required to meet with the prosecutor before the Motion Calendar Call date to discuss your case. At that time, it will be determined whether any issues remain that necessitate a hearing, whether discovery has been complied with, whether any video or audio tapes pertain to the questions raised in the case and whether those audio or videotapes exist, and if so, the prosecutor will be required to arrange for the arresting agency to turn over those tapes prior to any hearing. If all discovery has been received, you and your attorney will be excused from attending the Motion Calendar Call and your case will be scheduled for a motion hearing if there are any outstanding issues to be heard by the judge.
If you have been convicted multiple times of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may be encouraged to enter a plea and participate in the Hall County DUI Court program. Participation in the DUI Court program is mandatory but offers reduced jail sentences, fines, and community service.
The Hall County DUI Court is one of Georgia's founding DUI Court programs. Its mission is “to make offenders accountable for their actions, bringing about a behavioral change that reduces DUI recidivism and the abuse of alcohol and other drugs while raising the re-licensure rate for participants that complete the program; to protect the public, to treat the victims of DUI offenders in a fair, just way; and to educate the public as to the benefits of DUI courts for the communities that they serve.” The Hall County DUI Court is designed to coordinate substance abuse intervention with judicial support through an immediate sanctions and incentives process.
To be eligible for DUI Court, the pending charge must be at least a third lifetime DUI, the participant must be a Hall County resident at the time of arrest, and have no prior violent felony convictions. The program is fifteen months long and participants must go through treatment, attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, attend court to meet with presiding Judge Larry Baldwin, and call a phone number each morning to find out if they have to go into random drug and alcohol screenings. The program costs $25 per week, but drug and alcohol screening and other program conditions are additional costs.
The program consists of three phases. Treatment in Phase 1 consists of 3 hours per week in group sessions for a minimum of 5 months. Phase 1 participants attend court on a biweekly basis and are screened for alcohol and drugs 4 times per week. Treatment in Phase 2 is 1.5 hours per week in group sessions and individual counseling for a minimum of 5 months. Phase 2 participants are drug and alcohol screened at least 2 times per week. Phase 3 consists of treatment for 1.5 hours month in group sessions for a minimum of 3 months and drug and alcohol screens at least once per week. Participants in Phases 2 and 3 attend court on a monthly basis.
The case will be scheduled for a Calendar Call if it remains open and a plea has not been entered. At Calendar Call, the judge will ask the status of the case and determine whether the case is ready for trial or if there are any outstanding issues that need to be addressed. If both the defense and the prosecution are ready for trial, the case will be marked ready and subject to be called in during the court's trial weeks. During trial weeks, cases are put “on-call” and all parties must be available to attend court for trial at any time during that week.
If the case is called in for a jury trial, a jury will be empaneled and six jurors will be chosen. The State has the burden of proof at trial and must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Once the trial begins, opening statements will be made to the jury. The prosecution presents its case first and calls any witnesses and presents all of its evidence. After the prosecution rests its case, the defense will be allowed to call its witnesses and present any evidence. Finally, each side will be allowed to make a closing argument to the jury and summarize its case. The judge will then read instructions to the jury to advise them of the law of Georgia relating to the charges involved in the case. The jury will then deliberate privately until a verdict is reached. If the verdict is guilty, the judge will sentence the defendant according to the law. If the verdict is not guilty, the defendant is cleared of the charges.
The Hall County, GA DUI Process
A Hall County DUI charge begins with you being stopped by police. This happens 2 ways: you are pulled over by a police officer or you are stopped at a roadside checkpoint. If police pull you over, they will need to have a valid reason for doing so. Suspicion of DUI is not a valid reason for pulling you over, it must be for a violation of some sort like speeding or failing to use your turn signal. Roadside checkpoints need to be set up according to certain protocol and announced to the general public in some way. If you were stopped for no reason or at a checkpoint that was not following protocol, make sure your lawyer knows this; your case could be dismissed. Hall County police officers have been trained to look for signs of impairment or signs that you were drinking or doing drugs in the car. If they notice an open container or drug paraphernalia in the car, or if you appear to have slurred speech or blood-shot eyes, they may ask you if you have been drinking or doing drugs. It is important to know that you do not have to answer these questions. They will then ask you to take a field sobriety test. There are 2 types of sobriety tests, field sobriety tests and chemical blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests. If you fail either type of these tests, you will be arrested for DUI.
Once you are arrested for DUI in Hall County, GA you will be taken to jail. You will have to wait in jail for a few hours until you are granted a bond. A bond is when you pay a set amount of money in order to be released from jail. The money will then be returned to you when you appear in court. You can either pay the bond yourself or get a loan through a bondsman. The first thing you should do after a DUI arrest is call the Law Office of Richard Lawson and speak to an attorney who is knowledgeable about Hall County DUI law. You only have 30 days after a DUI arrest to file what is called a 30 day letter in order to get an ALS Hearing. This will stop your license from being suspended so that you can still drive while you are awaiting your arraignment and trial. The Law Office of Richard Lawson are prepared to guide you through the entire Hall County DUI process, call them today!
YOUR HALL COUNTY GA DUI ARRAIGNMENT
Your arraignment is your first chance to appear in front of a judge to plead ‘guilty' or ‘not guilty'. It is crucial that you have an experienced Hall County DUI Lawyer to assist you in your arraignment. Only a lawyer who has helped thousands of clients in arraignments will be able to tell you exactly how to defend your case and when to enter into a plea bargain. This is called the Georgia DUI Process. For example, pleading ‘guilty' will allow the judge to sentence you however they feel which means you could end up with jail time and losing your license for a year! But if you plead ‘not guilty' your lawyer can try and get the prosecutor to give you a plea bargain or you can go to trial and try to beat the charges altogether. Besides, you can always change your plea to ‘guilty' if you desire in the future. Once you enter a ‘not guilty' plea, the prosecution has to release to you all of the evidence they have against you. Your lawyer will then be able to review all the evidence and advise you what you can expect if you take your case to trial. A lawyer from the Law Office of Richard Lawson will fight aggressively to protect your rights and get you great results! We are here to help you 24/7.
HALL COUNTY DUI PLEA BARGAINS
If you enter a plea of ‘not guilty' at the arraignment for your Hall County DUI charge, your lawyer will attempt to work with the prosecutor to get you a plea bargain. A plea bargain is when the prosecution feels that they may lose at trial or that it will not be worth their time. This is usually because they are aware that you have superior legal representation. They will offer you a pre-agreed upon punishment in exchange for you changing your plea to ‘guilty'. Plea bargains can be great compromises because you know what your sentence will be prior to pleading ‘guilty' and you do not have to expend the cost and time associated with going to trial. The sentences offered are usually a lot lighter than a judge would grant you. In some cases this may not be the case, and the prosecution is offering a far too harsh sentence. Having an experienced Hall County DUI Lawyer from the Law Office of Richard Lawson will greatly benefit you in negotiating plea bargains. We have represented thousands of clients in plea bargains and know what is fair and what is not.
DUI TRIALS IN HALL COUNTY STATE COURT
If you are charged with a DUI in Hall County, GA and you are not offered a plea bargain or cannot come to agreement on one with the prosecutor, you will go to trial. In Hall County, it is your right to a trial by jury. DUI trials are made up a six-person jury who need to be convinced by the prosecutor beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving under the influence. The prosecution will present all the evidence they have against you. Your lawyer will then present your defense. The experienced lawyers at the Law Office of Richard Lawson have many different strategies and techniques to fighting your charges in court. They can bring in expert witnesses, point out errors made by police at the time of your arrest and refute evidence of your impairment. ‘Not guilty' is always the goal, but if you are found ‘guilty' your lawyer can work with the judge to get your sentence reduced or edited to fit your lifestyle needs.
Hall County DUI charge? Do not panic; the Law Office of Richard Lawson is here for you. Call us 24/7 and get connected with a Hall County DUI Lawyer. Our Hall County DUI Lawyers are here to help.
DUI TESTING IN HALL COUNTY GA
FIELD SOBRIETY TESTING IN HALL COUNTY
When you get stopped in Hall County, GA and the police suspects DUI, there are 2 types of field sobriety tests they can use. The first type is a field sobriety test. This is usually what people think of when they think of DUI tests, it usually involves the officer asking you to perform tasks such as walking a straight line, reciting the alphabet backwards or standing on one foot. It is important to note that you can decline taking these tests without having to give a reason and there will be no legal recourse for it. If you do decide to take a field sobriety test, remember that most police cruisers in Hall County are equipped with dashboard cameras. These cameras will record you as you perform the tasks that will be used as evidence against you in court.
BREATH TESTS, BLOOD TESTS, AND URINE TESTS IN HALL COUNTY GA
There are 2 types of sobriety tests that Hall County police may ask you to take if they suspect you are driving under the influence. Field sobriety tests are one and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level tests are the other. If you fail to acceptably perform or decline taking a field sobriety test, police will ask you to take a BAC test. These can be done by taking blood, breath or urine and analyzing the alcohol content contained in it. The most common type is a breathalyzer test. In Hall County, GA the legal limit of blood alcohol concentration is .08% in adults over 21 and .02% in those under 21. BAC tests have not been proven to accurately test drugs in your system however, and there are no legal limits for any type of drug intoxication.
You can decline to take a BAC test, and there will be no legal penalty. However, every Georgia driver's license has an implied consent law that means by accepting your license you agree to submit to a BAC test whenever asked by police. If you refuse to a take a BAC test, you will face losing your license for up to one year. Don't wait to get help and risk losing your license. If you have been charged with DUI in Hall County, call the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson right now!
FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS AS EVIDENCE IN YOUR HALL COUNTY DUI CASE
The best evidence against you the prosecutor will have is generally the results of your failed sobriety test or tests. If you are going to trial for DUI charges in Hall County, the prosecution will present to the jury the results of your sobriety tests to prove to them that you were impaired. If you took a field sobriety test they will have a video from the dashboard camera of the police car. If you took a BAC test, they will have those results as well. No test is 100% accurate and your DUI lawyer knows this. We will argue that there is a reasonable doubt that the BAC test was performed correctly. In some cases, lawyers have even brought in expert witnesses to testify on the incorrect ways breathalyzers are commonly administered and how it can affect the results.
RELATED OFFENSES TO DUI IN HALL COUNTY GEORGIA
The Law Office of Richard Lawson also has extensive knowledge in more serious DUI charges and unusual circumstance DUI in Hall County, GA. For example, DUI charges involving child endangerment or DUI with serious injury. The advantages of having DUI lawyers that deal exclusively with DUI cases is that they have dealt with all types of DUI issues, even the least common types.
After a serious accident, the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is checked for all parties involved. If you are found to have a blood-alcohol level over the .08% legal limit you will likely be charged with DUI and additional penalties for causing serious injury to another person. If you are involved in an accident where another person is killed and you have a BAC over the legal limit, you can be charged with felony vehicular homicide. The penalties for this can include imprisonment, high fines and restitution to the victim's family, alcohol education classes, license suspension and more. If you are arrested for DUI and there are minors in the vehicle with you, Hall County police will not hesitate to charge you with DUI and child endangerment. This will go on your record and can negatively effect you in a divorce or any type of child custody hearing.
DUI arrests in Hall County, GA can be drug-related too. If you are arrested for Marijuana, you can face losing your license for up to 6 months, even if you were not driving at the time. We have also seen an increasing number of prescription drug-related DUI arrests. You can be charged with DUI if the police believe you are under the influence of drugs, and you could be convicted even if the drugs are prescription! It is vital to get an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as you are charged with any DUI offense.
Hiring the Best Hall County DUI Attorney
After graduating from Emory Law School, Richard Lawson took a position as a DUI prosecutor for the State of Georgia. This experience has given him the unique perspective of having seen both sides of the DUI legal process. He has taken this knowledge and used it to defend over 4600 clients. Throughout his legal career, Richard Lawson has participated in hundreds of DUI Jury Trials or DUI Motions; and, even more, arraignments and plea bargain negotiations.
Unlike many lawyers out there who work in general litigation, The Law Office of Richard Lawson specializes in DUI law. This means we have vast experience defending clients in all types of DUI situations. We know the best DUI defenses for every charge and can advise you what kind of an outcome you can expect. If you have been charged with DUI in Hall County, GA and you want the best legal advice around, call the Law Office of Richar Lawson today!
PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS - FIGHT YOUR HALL COUNTY DUI
You need to act immediately to protect your right to drive and your freedom. That is why Hall County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson and his associates are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You need immediate legal help, and we are here to provide it because your problems should not have to wait until Monday morning. Contact us today.
Hall County DUI Resources: