Usually, when clients get charged with driving under the influence they want to know what will happen next. Even though DUIs are common, most people don’t know how cases progress. While there will be variations among individual cases, the court system is quite predictable. Let’s look at what’s likely to happen.
Arrest and Hearing
There are a number of law enforcement entities in Atlanta with the power to make a DUI arrest. The Atlanta Police Department has several specialized officers who patrol near bars and entertainment venues looking for drunk drivers. The Georgia State Patrol also has DUI enforcement officers. However, other certified law enforcement officers can make an arrest if they suspect you of a DUI.
Your first court appearance will probably be scheduled for the next business day after your arrest. In most cases, you’ll have to go to the City of Atlanta Municipal Court. You should contact an Atlanta DUI attorney before this hearing. You may be able to have them represent you at this session and some of the subsequent ones. Some court appearances are mere status hearings at which nothing of substance happens. If your attorney attends on your behalf, you’ll be able to go to work or school while they look at the evidence the state has against you and build your defense.
Regaining Your Driving Privileges
There’s an administrative matter that needs to be handled separately from the criminal case. When you get arrested for a DUI, your license will automatically be suspended for up to 120 days. Previously, if you wanted to regain your driving privileges, you would have to request an Administrative License Hearing to challenge the suspension. However, you now have the option of installing an ignition interlock device on your vehicle instead.
You’ll need to make this decision within 30 days of your arrest, and you should discuss it thoroughly with your Atlanta DUI attorney. If the 30 days pass and you don’t make a decision, your license is likely to be suspended. You may be unable to drive for a year or even longer. Your attorney will advise you on how you should proceed based on the facts of your case and your personal situation.
Reviewing the Evidence Against You and Trying to Get a Deal
In order to build a strong defense, your lawyer needs to see all the evidence the prosecution has against you. This typically includes your chemical test results, the police report, and the video of your arrest. The police report usually only mentions things that are damaging to you. However, the video will show what actually happened.
Officers often approach drivers with the expectation that they will make a DUI arrest. Therefore, they will take almost anything as a sign of intoxication. In reality, you may have been tired, ill or simply driving in an unfamiliar location. However, the police officer is likely to only mention those things that are consistent with a DUI. The video recording may be able to show that you were coherent, speaking normally, and displaying typical fine motor skills.
After reviewing the evidence, your attorney may try to get the DUI charge reduced to reckless driving. If the state offers a plea deal and you agree to it, you may be able to have your case resolved in traffic court. Not every DUI case can be resolved in this way and sometimes the charge may stick based on the strength of the evidence against you. If so, the case will be transferred to state court where a new prosecutor will be assigned.
Your attorney may try again to reach a deal. If this isn’t possible, you can either plead guilty or opt for a jury trial. Some attorneys encourage their clients to accept plea bargains even though it would be better to go to trial. However, you need to hire an attorney who will fight for the best possible outcome instead of taking the easy way out.
Contact Howard & Arca DUI Lawyers to Get the Help You Need
Navigating the court system is often difficult and DUI charges can be very intimidating. That’s why you should never attempt to represent yourself. You also shouldn’t plead guilty just to get everything over with since the penalties can be severe. Even your first DUI can result in jail time. You need to hire an experienced Georgia DUI attorney to represent you if you want to beat the charges. Call Howard & Arca today to book a consultation.