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Howard & Arca

Whether it is a first time DUI charge or a vehicular manslaughter charge involving alcohol or drugs, our Atlanta DUI Lawyers have the experience necessary to defend your rights.

Our Recent Results speak for themselves. We have a successful record of jury trial victories, and we have negotiated pre-trial dismissals of DUI and VGCSA charges for hundreds of clients.

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DUI Lawyer in Atlanta, GA

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DUI & Drunk Driving

If you’re charged with DUI in Atlanta, you’re going to need a DUI lawyer. Even if it’s your first offense, you could be facing jail time and some pretty hefty fines. You’ll also be facing a mandatory suspension of your driver’s license if convicted.

There’s so much at stake that you need an experienced DUI lawyer in Atlanta by your side. They can help prepare a strong defense on your behalf.
Some of the possible defenses to DUI in Atlanta, Georgia include an unlawful stop, improper administration of the field sobriety test, or faulty testing equipment.

An Atlanta DUI lawyer is going to do his best to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. But, you can’t delay calling them. You only have a few days after your DUI arrest before you have to appear in court. You don’t want to show up to this hearing alone. They’ll talk to the prosecutor and see if there’s a chance of pleading to a lesser charge such as reckless driving.

A police officer mentioning the need to take a field sobriety test can wreck the nerves of any driver – whether intoxicated or completely sober. The officer will likely let you know that taking the test is optional, but the fear of what may happen to you in the aftermath of your refusal may scare you even more than the test itself! Remember: You are not required to take the field sobriety test in Georgia.


In most cases, the field sobriety test is used as the first step for police officers who want to determine a driver’s level of intoxication. However, that is not the only step available. This test is typically offered before a blood or breath test. Refusing to take a blood, urine or breath test may lead to a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. Refusing a field sobriety test, though, does not have the same result for most drivers.


There are a few instances that serve as the exception to the rule. For instance, if you are under the age of 21, act suspiciously when questioned by the police officer or have a former DUI conviction on your record, refusal of the field sobriety test could solidify the officer’s decision to arrest and detain you. This would be added to the “probable cause” used to pull you over in the first place and may lead to the request of additional field tests – such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk-and-turn exercise or backward counting.


Did you agree to take either of the above-referenced tests as part of your DUI arrest? The best thing you can do next is contacting Howard & Arca to protect your rights and have a solid chance to preserve your driving privileges.

Years ago, breathalyzer tests were required in Georgia. Unlike field sobriety tests, a person’s refusal of the breathalyzer test could then be used against them in criminal court. However, a new DUI breathalyzer biller approved by the Senate essentially transformed that concept in favor of the motorists.


According to House Bill 471, which was passed by the Senate 50-2 in March 2019, police officers can no longer inform motorists that a refusal could be used against them in court. A motorist suspected of drunk driving can refuse breathalyzer tests before or after the arrest without the worry of it being used against them.


The bill was initially proposed as a response to a recent ruling from the Georgia Supreme Court. The ruling concluded that requiring a breathalyzer test violates a person’s constitutional right to protect himself or herself against self-incrimination. Further changes to Georgia DUI laws will be considered in future legislative sessions.

If you decide to refuse a blood test in response to a suspected DUI charge, then you will lose your driving privileges for a full year. Whether you are convicted does not matter when it comes to this rule due to the implied consent law. In other situations, you could receive a limited driving permit that would at least allow you to drive to and from work. However, this type of refusal removes that option from consideration. You would not be entitled to hardship or limited driving permit at all.


Fortunately, there is still hope. This is where a high-quality Georgia DUI attorney can assist you. The objective would be to have the refusal withdrawn to restore driving privileges. For instance, your attorney could work towards a unilateral withdrawal where the arresting officer clears the refusal and you would no longer be committed to a guilty plea for the DUI charge. The other type of withdrawal requires a guilty plea but removes the D.D.S. 1205 form and qualifies the convicted driver for a restricted driver’s license.

If you refuse to take a blood test or the test results showed a BAC level of at least 0.08, the 30-day DUI rule gives you thirty (30) calendar days to submit a request for a special hearing. Otherwise, your driving privileges will be suspended for a full year.


Keep in mind that the 0.08 BAC level does not apply to every situation. For instance, if you were under the age of 21 on the day of your arrest, a 0.02 test result would still enforce the 30-day rule. In addition, if you are a licensed commercial driver who was on the clock at the time of your arrest, a blood alcohol level of at least 0.04 would have the same consequences.


Missing the 30-day window leads to an administrative suspension – not a criminal punishment – but is automatically enforced if you do not submit the appeal letter on time. Once the letter is received by the Department of Driver’s Services, the special hearing is typically scheduled within 30 days. The Administrative Law Judge will examine the evidence during this special hearing – which may or may not include your testimony. Having a good Georgia DUI lawyer at your side will play an integral role in working towards a positive outcome in this scenario.

The punishments and penalties that you face for a DUI in Georgia depend on your history of DUI charges. A first-time offender, for instance, will face a different set of penalties than a habitual violator. The guide below outlines the varying degrees of punishments that you could potentially face at each level:


First DUI

  • Fines: Minimum of $300 plus court costs, fees & surcharges
  • Driver’s License: Suspension with a restricted driving permit
  • Probation: Up to 12 months
  • Imprisonment: Up to 10 days in jail
  • Community Service: A minimum of 40 hours
  • Program Involvement: Substance abuse counseling, DUI Risk Reduction School & MADD Mothers Victim Impact Panel

Second DUI

  • Fines: Up to $1,000 plus court costs, fees & surcharges
  • Driver’s License: Suspension with the surrender of license plate installation of ignition interlock device after 120-day “hard” license suspension
  • Probation: Up to 36 months (minimum of 12)
  • Imprisonment: 90 days to 12 months (could be changed to probation with a minimum 3-day jail sentence)
  • Community Service: 30 days (240 hours)
  • Program Involvement: Substance abuse counseling, DUI Risk Reduction School, photo publication

Third DUI (High and aggravated misdemeanor)

  • Fines: Up to $5,000 plus court costs, fees & surcharges
  • Driver’s License: 5-year suspension, interlock device and restricted license available after 2-year window
  • Imprisonment: 120 days to 12 months (could be changed to probation with a minimum 15-day jail sentence)
  • Community Service: 30 days (240 hours)
  • Program Involvement: Mandatory drug & alcohol treatment, DUI Risk Reduction School, photo publication, habitual violator status

Fourth DUI (felony)

  • Fines: Up to $5,000 plus court costs, fees & surcharges
  • Driver’s License: 10-year suspension, surrender of license plate
  • Imprisonment: Up to 5 years (less time served on probation)
  • Community Service: 60 days (480 hours)
  • Program Involvement: Mandatory drug & alcohol treatment, DUI Risk Reduction School, photo publication, status of a habitual violator and convicted felon

Habitual Violator

  • Fines: Up to $5,000 plus court costs, fees & surcharges
  • Driver’s License: 2-year suspension of license followed by a restricted driver’s license
  • Imprisonment: Up to 5 years
  • Community Service: 30 days (240 hours) – contingent on the length of sentence
  • Program Involvement: Mandatory drug & alcohol treatment, clinical evaluation & treatment, DUI Risk Reduction School, surrender of license plate
  • Other conditions and consequences associated with a felony conviction

The penalties and punishments associated with DUI cases that involve casualties or fatalities are much more severe than standard DUI penalties. This includes (but is not limited to) the following:


  • Extensive prison sentences
  • Increased fees and bail charges
  • Extensive license suspensions without a permit
  • Increased premiums and rates for automobile insurance

The length of the prison sentence will depend on the circumstances of the case. For instance, vehicular homicide can land a driver behind bars for 3-15 years for each charge. A serious injury incident could lead to a minimum one-year prison sentence and feticide by vehicle carries a minimum 3-year prison sentence. If you are convicted with a hit and run charge, you could potentially spend up to 5 years in prison.


Civil lawsuits are also a consequence of these types of accidents – especially when the injured party suffers extensive physical, emotional and financial damages. Settlements could include lost wages, pain & suffering, long-term medical expenses, and property damage.


Keep in mind that a not-guilty verdict in a criminal DUI case does not necessarily protect you from civil lawsuits and related cases. This is primarily because there are no reasonable doubt requirements with civil court cases – which makes them nearly impossible to fight against on your own without the expertise and guidance of a Georgia attorney.

Professional License Defense

For professionals in careers such as pharmacy, accounting, nursing, and other medical fields like doctors or surgeons, your professional license is your livelihood. It allows you to practice in your chosen field, help others, and provide for your family.

When this license is threatened, everything in your life may be on the line. If you are facing a professional license review or investigation, call the Atlanta professional license defense lawyers at Howard & Arca immediately. We will aggressively defend your license by all means necessary. Your career is dedicated to helping others every day, we’d be honored to help you when you need it most.

Don’t leave your license, career, and livelihood to chance, hire the best, hire Howard & Arca.

How Can A DUI Lawyer Help Me?

Some drivers make the mistake of trying to handle their DUI case on their own. Or, they a hire cheap lawyer who promises to get the charges dismissed or reduced for a few hundred dollars. Be wary of these types of lawyers. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for”, and the last thing you want with a charge as serious as driving under the influence is a cheap defense.

A good amount of attorneys in Atlanta do nothing but try to get their clients quick plea deals. This likely isn’t going to help you. Depending on the evidence against you, it could be very difficult to get the charges against you dismissed or reduced. No attorney can manage to do this effectively after meeting with you for just a few minutes.

If you want a competent defense, you need to obtain competent and experienced representation. An experienced lawyer will do several things after your Georgia DUI arrest. Some of these things include:

  • Reviewing a full and detailed copy of your driving history
  • Examine the police report and charges
    Watch the video of the traffic stop, field sobriety test, and arrest
  • Research the police officer’s record for unlawful stops and arrests
  • Investigate to see if you qualify for alcohol or drug treatment as part of a legitimate plea bargain

You need to be prepared as well. Prior to your meeting, secure a copy of the following so you can bring it to your initial consultation:

  • Your full seven-year driving abstract from the Georgia State Patrol
  • A copy of your complete criminal history from the Georgia Criminal Information Center (GCIC)
  • A complete copy of the police report
  • Proof that you’ve started to attend AA meetings in your town
  • Evidence that you’ve arranged to attend DUI school

Your drunk driving attorney will need to review all of this information to get an idea of what you’re up against. It’s faster and easier for you to gather all of this information prior to the meeting. If your lawyer has to get this information himself, he’ll have to charge you for his time. It will also delay how quickly he can start preparing your defense.

You won’t have much time between your arrest and your first court hearing. The court isn’t going to postpone this hearing because you dragged your feet retaining an attorney. This is why your second (or first) call after your arrest needs to be to a competent criminal defense lawyer in Atlanta.

A conviction for driving under the influence can have a big impact on your life. It’s crucial that you have someone handling your case that understands Georgia DUI laws and the court system.

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What Should I Expect After The Arrest?

If you’re arrested for DUI, your life will change. It’s not just a matter of getting bailed out of jail and showing up to court. The charge will follow you for months, if not years. It can have long-term consequences as well.

Here are some of the things you can expect to happen after you’re arrested in Atlanta:

  • You’ll have to attend at least 3 court hearings, maybe more depending on whether or not your case goes to trial
  • You’re going to have to spend about $3,000 to $7,500 in legal fees, depending on how far you want to take your case. For example, if you want to go to trial and fight the charges, it’s going to cost a lot more than it will negotiate a plea deal.
  • Your driver’s license will be suspended for some time, perhaps up to a year
  • If you do plead guilty, expect to spend anywhere from 1 day to a year in jail
  • Understand that you may be placed on probation for at least 12 months, maybe longer
  • During your probation period, you won’t be allowed to drink or use any drugs that aren’t prescribed to you
  • You may have to install an ignition interlock device
  • Once placed on probation, expect to pay about $50 a month in probation fees
  • If you plead guilty or are convicted at trial, you’ll be ordered to complete community service. The time can range anywhere from 40 hours to 240 hours, depending on your plea deal.

Having an experienced lawyer by your side can make this a little easier. He’ll fight to keep you out of jail and get you the lowest penalties possible.

What Evidence Will Be Used Against Me?

Once your attorney files these motions, they’ll get to the heart of your case. They’ll ask the state to send over their discovery, which includes any evidence that the state intends to use in your case. You have a right to all of this information in order to prepare your defense. The same is true of your lawyer. He’ll have to turn over any evidence he intends to use in his defense.

What are some of the kinds of evidence your lawyer will use to prepare your defense? Some of this evidence includes:

  • The police report
  • Any accident or incident report from your arrest
  • Videos of your stop, field sobriety test, arrest, and intake
  • Police dashcam and body camera videos
  • The way the field sobriety test was conducted and performed
  • 911 calls
  • Your driving history
  • Your criminal record
  • The arresting officer’s disciplinary record
  • Calibration reports from the breathalyzer tests administered

Obviously, your lawyer probably won’t use all of these things. Different cases involve different types of evidence. It really depends on what your main defense will be.

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Can I Negotiate A Plea Deal By Myself?

The bottom line is if you try to handle your case yourself, you’re bound to make mistakes. The prosecutor isn’t going to take you seriously. In fact, other than a few minutes at your initial court hearing, you probably won’t get to speak to him at all. You’ll more than likely speak to one of the court officers like the other 200 people in court that day.

The other thing about having a lawyer is that you are given some priority. When you have an Atlanta DUI lawyer, your case will be heard first. You won’t have to wait in the courtroom all day with the other pro se defendants. Your attorney is also more likely to get permission to get your case continued or postponed as needed. The court isn’t very likely to agree to do this for someone without a lawyer.

When it comes to negotiating a plea deal, you definitely don’t want to handle this yourself. You don’t even know the law let alone how to negotiate a plea deal. There are certain statutes, such as the Georgia First Offender Act, that you don’t even know to exist. How are you supposed to argue your case when you aren’t sure what arguments are available to you?

Your DUI defense attorney in Atlanta also knows how to do the research necessary to defend you. He knows how to find case law that supports your defense. He also has the connections to hire expert witnesses if necessary. These are the big differences between having an experienced lawyer handle your case and doing it yourself.

There is really too much at stake to handle your DUI defense yourself. You’re much better off if you rely on one of the experienced Atlanta DUI lawyers at Howard & Arca in Atlanta, Georgia.

Can I Get My DUI Charge Reduced To Reckless Driving?

A lot of people charged with DUI ask if their Atlanta DUI lawyers can get the charges reduced to reckless driving. They may have a friend or relative who’s done something similar in the past.

Although it is possible to get your charges reduced to reckless driving, it isn’t easy. There’s certainly no guarantee that a prosecutor or judge would agree to something like this. It may be possible in situations where the driver’s BAC was only slightly over the .08 legal limit. Or, in the case where the driver had a perfect driving record, the judge may entertain something like this.

Some of the benefits of having your charges reduced to reckless driving include:

  • You won’t have your driver’s license suspended
  • You won’t show a conviction of DUI on your record. Keep in mind, however, that your record will still show an arrest for DUI.
  • Your insurance won’t go up as much with reckless driving as it would with a DUI.
  • It’s quicker and cheaper to resolve your case if the charges are reduced.

Just keep in mind, a reckless driving conviction is great but it’s not perfect. You’ll have insurance points and points on your license. You’ll also have to pay some pretty hefty fines. And, if you’re a commercial driver, your license could still be in jeopardy with a reckless driving conviction.

However, a reckless driving conviction is much less damaging than a DUI conviction. One of our expert Atlanta DUI lawyers at Howard & Arca can help you determine the best course of action following your DUI charge.

guy holding a beer while driving
Taking an oath before a DUI trial case

Do I Need To Go To Trial To Get My Charge Reduced Or Dismissed?

There are times when, no matter what your lawyer does, he won’t be able to get your charge dismissed. Some clients really were drunk at the time of their arrest. And, if the arrest and stop were lawful, there will be no obvious defenses at your disposal. This is when your lawyer’s negotiation skills come into play.

Most DUI cases do not go to trial. Nobody likes a trial. Not only is it expensive for you, but it can take months or even a year to resolve your case. Plus, you’re likely not going to go before a jury. A lot of DUI cases are decided by a judge. Like it or not, that judge is going to be biased in favor of the state. This may not be fair, but it’s the way it is.

The real work your Atlanta DUI lawyers will do is negotiate a solid plea deal with the prosecutor. This doesn’t mean he’ll call him up and ask for a quick plea. He’s going to present enough evidence to convince the prosecutor to consider the following pleas:

  • Reduce the charges to reckless driving
  • Consider no jail time
  • Keep the fines to the mandatory minimums
  • Reduce your license suspension to under 6 months
  • Get a work license so you don’t lose your job
  • Agree to probation so that the DUI doesn’t end up on your permanent record

Some people think it’s easy to get the State to agree to these things. But it’s not always a matter of money and time. The prosecutor would rather settle your case but he has no qualms about going to trial. His odds actually increase if he goes to trial. And, you’re the one who will have to pay thousands in legal fees to take the case to trial.

Also, the prosecutor has no real incentive in offering a plea deal. Yes, he wants to keep the court docket as clear as possible. And, if his case is weak, he will want to resolve it with your attorney. But he doesn’t lose anything by pursuing your charges. In fact, a conviction could help his position depending on whether there’s anything at stake from a political perspective.

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When considering an attorney to handle your case, don’t be misled by the abundance of lawyers making false promises and guaranteeing undeliverable results.

At Howard & Arca, we don’t make any promises about outcomes. Instead, we promise to give you honest advice and guidance about your situation and commit to working tirelessly to seek the best outcome possible for you. But, don’t take our word for it, check out what our past clients have had to say.

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