In Georgia, a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge is one of the most serious misdemeanors an individual faces. A DUI Conviction carries thousands of dollars in fines and potential jail time. More importantly, though, a DUI charge alone can cause you to lose your driving privileges in the State of Georgia – even before you are convicted! Below, you will find helpful information on a typical DUI Case Process.
Step 1. Arrest and Bond
Obviously, to be charged with DUI, you typically need to first be arrested. After you have been arrested, except for certain circumstances, you will likely be bonded out rathe quickly. If this is a first life-time offense, the bond will generally be posted immediately and you will be released likely with information on your next court date.
Step 2. Hire a DUI Lawyer – Save your Driver’s License
A DUI is a serious misdemeanor crime that requires an attorney with knowledge and experience in handling DUI cases. Currently, in Georgia, you only have ten (10) days from the date of your arrest to request a hearing to appeal the officer’s decision to suspend your driver’s license. Effective July 1, 2017, you will have thirty (30) days to request this hearing. The new life to take effect July 1, 2017, will also allow individuals the option to waive the ALS (Administrative License Suspension Hearing) and opt in to apply for and obtain an Ignition Interlock Device Limited Permit (IIDLP). The IIDLP and Device must be maintained for one (1) year if you refused the state-administered test and one hundred and twenty (120) days if you consented to the state-administered test.
It is extremely important that you hire an attorney that knows the nuances of GA’s DUI Laws and procedures – especially when it comes to your driver’s license.
Step 3. Discovery – The Video and Incident Reports
After we are hired, we immediately begin the process of obtaining all the discovery – i.e. evidence – in your case. This includes not only the arresting officer’s report, but also any supplemental reports, notes, documents. In addition, the video and test results, if a test case, will be reviewed.
Once you are arraigned, we have ten (10) days to file Motions in your case. Motion are legal avenues we use to obtain and suppress the evidence in your case. The most common motions we file and argue in a DUI case are to challenge the officer’s stop of your car (if applicable) and to challenge the officer’s probable cause to arrest you for DUI. Our main objective in the discovery and motions process is to leave no stone unturned in our search and fight for all legal defenses applicable to you and your specific case.
Once we have all the discovery in your case, we will schedule a case review with you to review it all together. One of our main objectives is to ensure our clients are fully informed throughout the process and are aware of what it is their lawyer is actually doing for them and their case.
Step. 4. Court Appearances
Step 5. Negotiations and Pleas
After all the evidence in your case is collected and reviewed, the process of negotiating your case with the Solicitor, also known as the Prosecutor, who represents the State of Georgia, begins. Generally, this is done via several communications and/or in-person meetings between your DUI Lawyer and the Solicitor. The goal of these negotiations is to convince them to agree to dismiss the DUI charge and reduce the charges. Typically, the most common reduction in a DUI case is to Reckless Driving. This charge does not carry the same license suspension and implications on your driving history as a DUI charge does.
If negotiations are successful, then your case will be scheduled for a Plea and your case will be disposed of with a plea to the lesser charge. If your negotiations don’t go the way we want, but we are still able to negotiate an acceptable plea to the DUI, then you will appear in court and enter your plea in front of the Judge. Regardless, you will be fully informed throughout the entire process and ultimately, the decision is up to you.
Step 6. Motions Hearing
As discussed above, several motions to suppress and attack the State’s evidence against you will be filed early on in the case. Typically, if a case is to go to trial, a Motions hearing is generally held beforehand. If the court grants our Motions, your case will likely be dismissed or reduced to a non-DUI charge. Sometimes, even if the Judge denies our Motions, a hearing may show the State the weaknesses in their case and encourage the State to reduce the charges.
If Motions are denied, and the charges remain the same, the next step would be to decide on whether or not a trial is necessary.
Step 7. Trial – Bench or Jury
It is your constitutional right to demand a trial in your DUI case. You generally have the option of demanding a Jury or Bench trial. A Bench Trial is when the Judge in your case decides on whether or not the State has proven you guilty of DUI beyond a reasonable doubt. A Jury Trial is when a jury of six (6) or your peers is selected to determine whether or not the State has proven your guilt of DUI beyond a reasonable doubt. Most DUI trials end up being Jury rather than Bench trials.
Step 8. After the Trial
In any trial, the words we must strive to hear are “Not Guilty”. But, sometimes, that is not the case. If you are convicted of DUI or any of the underlying offenses, you will likely face punishment in the form of probation, fines, community service, and sometimes jail time. The Judge in your case always imposes the sentence and many factors are taken into consideration by the Judge in determining what punishment to impose. Some factors are prior criminal history, facts of the case at issue, whether or not you have completed certain conditions.
If you are acquitted, that is found Not Guilty, then there is no punishment or sentence imposed and your case is closed.
At Chehimi Law, we have several years of experience with the Georgia DUI Case Process. We have worked with different Courts and Judges throughout the State. We are determined, dedicated, and dependable. Call us today to speak with your DUI Lawyer.