White County DUI Lawyer - White County DUI Attorney
Being arrested for DUI is a traumatic event for anyone. Everyday our office receives call from people arrested for DUI in North Georgia. After graduating Emory University School of Law, White County DUI Lawyer Richard Lawson started his career as a DUI Prosecutor in White County. Today his office exclusively handles DUI cases and he is Georgia's top-rated DUI Defense Attorney. For over 25 years he has been defending the rights of people accused of DUI throughout North Georgia. His reviews can be found on AVVO. Check them out and contact us for expert White County DUI representation.
30 Day Warning!
You only have thirty days from the date of your arrest to file an appeal with the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS). There is a $150 filing fee that must be included with your appeal letter and if your attorney does not file the appeal, your driver's license or privilege to drive in Georgia will be suspended for up to one year. If you are accused of refusing the State's chemical test, the suspension will be without a permit to drive for the entire 12 months. This suspension does not have to happen. Act now to save your license. Our White County DUI Lawyers will help save your license and keep your freedom.
White County DUI Process
DUI cases are handled differently in White County, and it is important to hire someone that understands the differences and how things are handled in a smaller North Georgia County. If you are arrested within the City Limits of Cleveland GA, your case will have an initial arraignment in Cleveland Municipal Court. If you are arrested within the City Limits of Helen, your arraignment will be in Helen Municipal Court. Otherwise, if you are arrested in unincorporated White County, your case will be arraigned in White County Probate Court. In the event you elect to have a trial by jury, your case will be heard in White County Superior Count.
Cleveland GA Municipal Court
In the Municipal Court of Cleveland, your arraignment will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Cleveland City Hall. Trials are heard once a month at the White County Courthouse at 5:00 p.m. You can pay minor traffic offenses by calling the Clerk of Court. You will have to appear in court if you are charged with any major offense, such as DUI, Minor in Possession of Alcohol, Possession of Marijuana, and Reckless Driving. All jury trials in White County are heard in the White County Superior Court.
Helen Municipal Court
Helen City Court is held once a month on a Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. Except for minor traffic offenses, you must appear and handle your case in court. Trials are held on the same day after arraignments. Helen Municipal Court has jurisdiction over all misdemeanor traffic offenses that occur within the City Limits of Helen, including DUI. You can enter into a plea bargain or have a bench trial (trial by judge), but you cannot have a jury trial in Helen. If you want a jury trial, your case will be sent to the White County Superior Court.
White County Probate Court:
If you have been arrested within the unincorporated areas of White County, you will have your initial court date in the Probate Court. Judge Garrison Baker has been the probate court judge for more than 30 years. White County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson started his career as a prosecutor in Judge Baker's courtroom more than 20 years ago.
In probate court you can negotiate a plea to your DUI case or potentially get the case reduced to reckless driving. Even though the probate court has the authority to conduct bench trials (trial by judge), as a matter of policy, Judge Baker does not handle trials in DUI cases. If you want a jury or bench trial, your case will be bound over to the Superior Court of White County.
White County Superior Court
All DUI jury trials as heard in White County Superior Court. All Felony DUI cases are also handled in superior court. White County has three superior court judges that are part of the four-county Enotah Judicial Circuit and as a result, White County Superior Court is not in session every day.
How Your White County DUI Case Will Proceed
The first stage of the DUI court procedure starts with your arraignment. Arraignment can be waived, or you can elect to be formally arraigned in court. If you are formally arraigned, your charges will be read to you in full, and you will enter your plea on the record. If your attorney waives arraignment, he will enter your plea in writing. Either way, all motions must be filed at or before arraignment. Motions are the legal challenges to your case. In DUI Defense, the most important defenses to your case are the motions filed. If the motions are not timely filed, those defenses are waived. White County DUI Attorneys know the most important motions to file to get the best possible outcome.
After the arraignment, the State must comply with the discovery requests. Discovery is the process of getting and reviewing the evidence in the case. Evidence can include the police report, the arrest video, and any scientific reports (breath and blood testing information). After we review the discovery, we will file additional motions in consideration of the evidence. Your attorney will then be able to go with you any potential factual and legal defenses. That is why we cannot predict the outcome of your case until we have all the evidence.
The next stage of the proceeding is arguing the motions in your case. Motions are the legal challenges to the evidence in your case. Your DUI Attorney in White County will use case law and research to attempt to suppress (keep out) some or all of the evidence against you. That is why the motions filed can potentially make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
All throughout the process and trial of your case, your DUI Lawyer in White County will be in discussions with the District Attorney's office. The purpose of the negotiations is an attempt to settle the case without the need for a trial. Through persistent advocacy, your attorney may be able to negotiate a non-DUI disposition of the case. The most common non-DUI outcome is a reduction to reckless driving. However, no prosecutor will reduce a case just because you are a nice person. There has to be a legal or factual reason for the reduction. That is why we investigate all of our cases for potential defenses. Cases do not resolve themselves.
In cases where you have had prior offenses, plea-bargaining can be even more important. For multiple DUI Offenders, plea-bargaining rarely means getting the case reduced to a lesser offense. However, an effective plea bargain can mean the difference between significant time in jail and your very freedom. That is why you need a skilled negotiator on your side and why you need to hire an attorney who knows the local judges and prosecutors. Our office has been negotiating cases in White County for more than 25 years.
In the event your case is not settled, you can elect to have a trial. Misdemeanor DUI cases are heard before a six-person jury. Felony DUI cases are heard before a twelve-person jury. You can also have a bench trial. Bench trials are where the judge acts as the judge and “jury” in your case. No matter the quality of the judge or his/her intellectual honesty, it is the policy of this office to never have a bench trial on a DUI case. DUI is a political hot potato and most judges simply cannot find a person innocent of DUI. This is not a value judgment on any particular judge, but it is a judgment based on the 4600 cases handled by this office.
Of course, the goal is to win every single case, but in the event you do not get a favorable verdict, an appeal can be filed. The first step is a motion for a new trial. Once the record of the proceeding is reviewed, your appellate lawyer will argue at the trial court level for a new trial. If the motion is denied, he/she will file an appeal with the Georgia Court of Appeals or the Georgia Supreme Court, in the event the appeal is based on a violation of a person's Constitutional rights.
White County GA DUI Penalties:
In Georgia, all traffic tickets are misdemeanors, but DUI cases have potentially additional penalties above and beyond ordinary traffic offenses.
On a First DUI You are Facing:
- 12 Months of Probation
- 10 days in Jail (that may be reduced to one day)
- Loss of your driver's license or privilege to drive in Georgia
- Minimum of 40 hours of community service
- Alcohol and drug counseling
- DUI School
- Fines of $1000 per ticket plus applicable surcharges
- A lifetime criminal record
On a Second DUI You are Facing:
- 90 – 365 days in jail, of which there is a statutory minimum sentence of 72 hours in jail
- 240 hours of community service
- License Suspension
- Ignition interlock
- 17 weeks of mandatory counseling
- Publication of your photo in the local newspaper
- Fines up to $1000 plus court costs and surcharges
On a Third DUI You are Facing:
- The same consequences for Second DUI with the addition of a 5-year license suspension
- You will then be declared a Habitual Violator and if you are caught driving after being declared an HV, you will be charged with a felony. The penalty for driving while HV is up to 5 years in the State Penitentiary
- You can get a jail sentence of 120 days to 12 months, without any good time credit(2 for 1) because it is a high and aggravated misdemeanor
There is Help for Your White County DUI Case:
At our office, we are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are here because your problems should not have to wait until Monday morning. We know what it takes to get the best possible result. Remember, there are only 30 days to protect your right to drive. Call the top-rated White County DUI Lawyers today. Experience is the Difference. Call us now for the best White County DUI defense.
White County DUI Resources
White County Clerk of Superior Court
White County Superior Court Judges
Governor's Office of Highway Safety
Office of State Administrative Hearings