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 possible jail time.
More importantly, a DUI charge alone can cause you to lose your driving privileges in Georgia – even before you are convicted! Below, you will find helpful information on a typical DUI process.
Step 1. Arrest and Bond
To be charged with DUI, you typically need first to be arrested. A police officer will have probable cause to arrest you if, after pulling you over, the officer believes you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
After a DUI arrest, you will likely be bonded out rather quickly, except for certain circumstances. If this is the first-lifetime offense, the bond will generally be posted immediately, and you will probably be released with information on your next court date.
Step 2. Hire a DUI Lawyer – Save your Driver’s License
A DUI is a serious misdemeanor requiring an attorney with knowledge and experience 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 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.
You must hire a DUI defense attorney who knows the nuances of GA’s DUI Laws and procedures – especially regarding your driver’s license.
Step 3. Discovery – The Video and Incident Reports
After we are hired, we immediately begin obtaining all the discoveries – i.e., evidence – in your case. This includes the arresting officer’s report and any supplemental reports, notes, and 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 pre-trial motions we file and argue in a DUI case are to challenge the officer’s stop of your car (if applicable) and 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 discoveries 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 criminal defense attorney is doing for them and their case.
Step. 4. Court Appearances
Generally, depending on your case, you are not required to appear for court appearance unless it is for a Motions hearing or, obviously, a trial. Some Judges need clients to attend each hearing, while others are content with the DUI attorney appearing on their client’s behalf.
It is our policy to always notify our clients of when their court appearances are, regardless of whether their presence is required.
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.
The most typical reduction in a DUI case is Reckless Driving. This charge does not carry the same license suspension and implications on your driving history as DUI charges do.
If negotiations are successful, your case will be scheduled for a Plea bargain, 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 can still negotiate an acceptable plea to the DUI, then you will appear in court and enter your plea bargains 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 pre-trial motions to suppress and attack the State’s evidence against you will be filed early in the case. A Motions hearing is generally held beforehand if a case is to go to trial.
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’s 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. DUI 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 – DUI Conviction
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 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 elements are prior criminal history, facts of the case at issue, and 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.
If you plead guilty or nolo contender, the Judge will likely impose a sentence that day.
The sentencing in a DUI case is different for each DUI defendant and each case. The punishment for a first offender with no priors, and good facts, is usually probation, community service, and a fine. The punishment for a multiple offender, or someone with priors, or bad facts, is usually jail time.
How Long Do Most DUI Cases Take?
Most DUI cases are resolved within 2-6 months from the date of arrest. There are always exceptions to this rule, however.
DUI cases that go to trial obviously take longer than those that are resolved through plea bargaining. DUI cases that involve a lot of discovery, or have complicated legal issues, can also take longer to resolve.
How Long Does a DUI Case Take in California?
The California DUI court process can take anywhere from a few months to over a year. The amount of time your case takes to resolve will depend on many factors, including whether or not you have an experienced DUI attorney, the county your case is filed in, and the strength of the evidence against you.
If you have been charged with DUI, it is important to hire an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner they can begin fighting for you and the better chance you have of winning your case.
You only have ten days to request a DMV hearing when you are charged with DUI. Your license will be automatically suspended if you do not request a hearing within ten days.
An experienced DUI attorney will request a DMV hearing on your behalf and represent you at the hearing. The DMV hearing is a critical part of your DUI case and can often result in the DMV not suspending your license.
If you have been charged with DUI, do not hesitate to contact DUI defense attorneys today.
Contact Experienced DUI Attorneys for Your DUI Case
At Chehimi Law, we have several years of experience with the Georgia DUI Case Process. e have worked with different Courts and Judges throughout the State. We will work with you every step to ensure you have the best chance of winning your DUI case. Contact us today for a free consultation to speak with your DUI Lawyers.