DeKalb County DUI Lawyers

Our experienced DeKalb County DUI lawyers are available 24/7 to discuss your case at 404.816.8777.  We offer a free consultation.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in DeKalb County over this Memorial Day holiday weekend, DeKalb DUI trial attorneys James “Skip” Sullivan and Bob Chestney are available to discuss your case anytime – including after-hours and weekends!  Call us at 404.816.8777 (office), Mr. Sullivan’s mobile phone: 404.291.2151 (call or text), or email at Skip@dui-lawyer.com; Bob@dui-lawyer.com

DeKalb County DUI Lawyers
DeKalb County Courthouse
Whether you have a DUI in Doraville, Decatur, Avondale Estates, Stone Mountain, Chamblee, Lithonia, Brookhaven or anywhere in DeKalb County, call our experienced DeKalb County DUI lawyers today for a free consultation.

The DeKalb County Courthouse is located at 556 N. McDonough Street, Decatur, Georgia 30030.  It is located on the historic Decatur Square next to the Decatur MARTA station.  When your DeKalb County DUI case begins in any one of the municipal courts in DeKalb County, if you demand a jury trial, the municipal court loses jurisdiction over your case.  Your case is then transferred to either DeKalb County State Court if it involves only misdemeanor charges, or DeKalb County Superior Court if there are felony charges.  Sometimes preserving your right to a jury trial and sending your case to State or Superior Court is the best option to avoid a DUI conviction if the prosecutor in municipal court refuses to negotiate an acceptable resolution in your case.  There are also some DeKalb municipal courts that simply will not allow a DUI case to be tried in their jurisdiction.  If the municipal court refuses to have a trial but wont negotiate a non-DUI disposition, then the only option is to send your DUI case to DeKalb County State or Superior Court.

DeKalb County DUI Lawyers
DeKalb County Police Headquarters

If your misdemeanor DeKalb County DUI case was made by the DeKalb County Police Department uniform patrol officers or the DeKalb Police S.T.A.R. Team/DeKalb DUI Task Force Officers, then your case will likely begin in DeKalb County State Court.  DeKalb County Recorder’s Court does not currently handle DUI cases.  The DeKalb County Solicitor’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of your DeKalb County DUI in State Court. The current elected DeKalb Solicitor General is Donna Coleman-Stribling.  Generally, two prosecutors from the DeKalb County Solicitor’s Office are assigned to each courtroom in DeKalb County State Court.

DeKalb State Court currently has seven state court judges.  Your case will be assigned to one of the seven judges by a selection formula set up by the DeKalb County Court.  Each judge handles their caseloads differently so it is important that DeKalb DUI lawyers know how each particular courtroom operates.  Our DeKalb DUI defense lawyers try cases in DeKalb County on a regular basis.  Because we frequently contest DUI cases in DeKalb County State Court, we are familiar with the judges and the solicitors who will be handling your case.

Even though your case may have been sent to DeKalb County State Court to preserve your right to a jury trial from a municipal court, or your case originated in DeKalb County State Court, sometimes the facts of a particular DeKalb DUI may be best suited for a “bench trial” (a trial where the judge decides the case instead of a jury).  Sometimes a “bench trial” is a sound strategy, sometimes it is not.  There are many times when a jury trial is the best possible option to avoid a DUI conviction on your DeKalb DUI case if the prosecution refuses to negotiate an acceptable resolution in your case.

How our skilled DeKalb County DUI lawyers build a successful defense in your DUI case:

To build a strong DUI defense in Georgia, our DeKalb County DUI lawyers start by meeting with you about your DUI case and learning as much as possible from you about what happened.  Using this core information, our own in-house investigator can look for more evidence to help our defense by using specialized resources as needed to determine if all testing and other details of your arrest were accurate and legal.  Our investigator gathers information, videos, 911 calls, possible surveillance videos, police reports, documents road/scene conditions and more.  There are also times when we use the services of toxicologists, accident reconstructionists, private investigators, breath test/field sobriety experts, medical professionals, video illustrators, to name a few, to help build a solid DUI defense in your case.  Our DeKalb DUI lawyers then analyze your DeKalb DUI case starting with whether the initial stop or reason why the police were involved was legal.  We also look for suppression issues with the admissibility of field sobriety tests or state chemical tests (breath, blood, or urine tests).  Our DUI attorneys meeting as a group then develop strategies in how to best conduct the license suspension hearings, preliminary/committal hearings, motion hearings, and trial.  Our team approach is an effective way to ensure we are prepared to defend your DeKalb DUI.  All of our lawyers are involved in your case.  Our DUI attorneys have regular meetings on all of our cases, so the lead DUI attorney can get as much input as possible in developing a winning strategy in your DeKalb DUI case. 

Can I just enter a guilty plea myself and avoid hiring an experienced DeKalb DUI defense lawyer?

There is a saying that “a person who represents himself has a fool for a client.”  DUI cases are one of the most serious cases that are prosecuted in municipal courts or State Courts.  Even if you think you are guilty and may not want to fight your case all the way, there are matters that a skilled DeKalb DUI lawyer is better able to handle than someone representing him or herself.  Here are some reasons why you may consider hiring us rather than representing yourself:

  • You can put your driving privileges in jeopardy if you simply go to court and enter a guilty plea by yourself.  If you have been arrested by a DeKalb County S.T.A.R. Team DUI Task Force officer (or any Georgia police officer), you should have been served notice of an administrative license suspension action.  If you enter a guilty plea without properly addressing the license suspension action, you will not be able to get a limited permit (if you are eligible to get one at all) until and unless the license suspension action is conducted properly.
  • If your license is suspended for refusing the State’s chemical test from losing a suspension hearing or failing to submit a request for a hearing within 10 business days from the date of your arrest, your Georgia driver’s license or driving privileges will be suspended for a year with NO PERMIT.  Properly coordinating and handling the criminal case and the license suspension action can improve your chances of being able to drive.
  • Other charges in addition to your DeKalb DUI charge may be more serious and carry more punishment than the DUI charge itself.
  • Sometime the prosecutor gives a bad plea offer.  Even if you decide not to contest your case, an experienced DUI attorney who is familiar with the municipal courts in DeKalb County as well as DeKalb County State Court or Superior Court can assess a plea offer to determine if it is worth taking or moving your case to state court, or you may decide to take your case to trial.
  • If you decide to represent yourself at trial, the Georgia Rules of Evidence still applies to you.  Lawyers go to law school for years to learn these rules and you will be at the mercy of a skilled prosecutor and judge if you are not careful.

Administrative license suspension:

DeKalb County DUI Lawyers
Office of State Administrative Hearings

Besides your criminal case pending in DeKalb County or in any of the municipal courts in DeKalb County, you are likely facing a license suspension action.  There is only a limited time to request this separate hearing to preserve your driving privileges.  Whether you refused the State’s chemical test, or the breath test results indicated an alcohol concentration above the legal limit, Georgia law requires your officer to serve you notice of an administrative license suspension.  The form that is used is called a DS 1205 form (click on link to show the form).  This form is either yellow or white and the officer may have had you sign it. Sometimes this paperwork gets lost (you may have received it, but may have been misplaced, or it may have been lost at the jail).

You only have 10 business days to request a hearing to preserve your driving privileges: 

DeKalb DUI Lawyers
DS 1205 form
action within 10 business days (as opposed to 10 actual days) from the date of your arrest to preserve your driving privileges.  If you do not request a hearing within 10 business days from the date of your arrest and pay Georgia Department of Driver Services a $150 fee, your Georgia driver’s license or privilege to drive in Georgia (for those with an out of state driver’s license) will be suspended automatically on the 31st day after the date of your arrest – if your officer submitted the license suspension DS 1205 paperwork to the Georgia Department of Driver Services.  In most cases, you do not want your license to be suspended without a hearing. 

There are times when it may be a good strategy not to submit a request for a hearing, or to purposefully lose a license suspension action.  That sounds counter-intuitive, but in a limited number of circumstances, it is a wise strategy to gain an advantage in your DeKalb DUI criminal case.  Our DeKalb DUI lawyers do not make a decision to use this type of strategy until we thoroughly review your case to see if the facts of your case fit within one of those limited circumstances.  We then review with you the pro’s and con’s of using such a strategy.

Contact us today to discuss your DeKalb DUI case with our experienced DUI trial lawyers at 404.816.8777.  Our dedicated DeKalb DUI defense lawyers are experienced in contesting DUI cases and handling license suspension actions. We can review your case and prepare a strategy for your DeKalb DUI criminal case and your license suspension action.

Once a proper request for a license suspension hearing is made, what happens next?

The license suspension action is a civil action separate from your criminal case and only deals with your license or privilege to drive in this state.  As a matter of fact, the administrative license suspension action is litigated by a completely separate court from your criminal case.  Once the Georgia Department of Driver Services processes your request for a hearing, your case is then sent to the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH) where a hearing will be scheduled in front of a judge from that agency.  Typically a hearing date is set roughly 30 to 60 days from the date of your DeKalb DUI arrest.  Once a hearing is requested, the Department of Driver Services will extend your driving privileges until there is an order entered from an OSAH judge.

The scope of the hearing is very limited:

At a hearing, the OSAH judge has a very limited role in deciding your case.  The judge is bound by law to only look at certain statutory factors to determine whether or not those statutory factors were met based on the evidence presented at the hearing.  That is it.  The judge does not look at your criminal or driver’s history.  The judge is not concerned about your job, transportation issues with your children’s school or day care, or any other hardship you may if your license is suspended.  The judge’s only role in a license suspension hearing is to determine if the following factors were met:

  • Whether the law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving or in actual physical control of a moving motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and was lawfully placed under arrest for violating Code Section 40-6-391 (the DUI statute); or
  • Whether the person was involved in a motor vehicle accident or collision resulting in serious injury or fatality; and
  • Whether at the time of the request for the test or tests the officer informed the person of the person’s Implied Consent rights and the consequences of submitting or refusing to submit to such test; and
  • Whether the person refused the test; or whether a test or tests were administered and the results indicated an alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams or more or, for a person under the age of 21, an alcohol concentration of 0.02 grams or more or, for a person operating or having actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle, an alcohol concentration of 0.04 grams or more; and
  • Whether the test or tests were properly administered by an individual possessing a valid permit issued by the Division of Forensic Sciences of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on an instrument approved by the Division of Forensic Sciences or a test conducted by the Division of Forensic Sciences, including whether the machine at the time of the test was operated with all of its electronic and operating components prescribed by its manufacturer properly attached and in good working order, which shall be required.  A copy of the operator’s permit showing that the operator has been trained on the particular type of instrument used and one of the original copies of the test results or, where the test is performed by the Division of Forensic Sciences, a copy of the crime lab report shall satisfy the requirements of this subparagraph.

How is the OSAH hearing conducted?

The judge will enforce the Georgia Rules of Evidence, similar to other court proceedings.  Because the burden is on the officer to establish that the statutory factors were met, the officer testifies first.  Some jurisdictions allow the officer to have help from the prosecutor’s office, or if the officer is a Georgia State Trooper, an attorney paid by the State of Georgia assists the officer on direct examination.  The officer is then subject to cross-examination.  There are times when our DeKalb DUI lawyers may decide to place our clients or other witnesses on the stand for direct examination.  Our witnesses would then be subject to cross examination from the other side.  Once the testimony and presentation of the evidence is finished, each side can make a closing argument.  The judge will then make a decision typically within 5 business days, and will transmit that decision to the parties and the Georgia Department of Driver Services.  If there is an error in how the judge ruled, there is an appellate process available to review the court’s decision.

What happens if I win the hearing?

If the judge finds that one or more of the applicable statutory factors above are not met, then the judge will issue an order reversing the suspension action, transmit it to the Georgia Department of Driver Services, and then Georgia DDS will delete the license suspension action off your driver’s history (no administrative license suspension).  This does not mean that the criminal case is being dismissed, but an OSAH hearing can be a great tool for our DeKalb DUI lawyers to gain an advantage in your DeKalb DUI criminal case.

What happens if I lose the hearing?

If the judge finds that all of the applicable statutory factors were met by a preponderance of the evidence (a lower standard of proof than beyond a reasonable doubt), then the judge will issue an order affirming the license suspension and will transmit the order to the Georgia Department of Driver Services, who will then impose the license suspension.  Because the burden on the officer is so low to meet in these license suspension hearings, there is a good possibility that your license may be suspended, but our DeKalb DUI lawyers still may be able to gain an advantage in the criminal case based on testimony from the hearing.  If the judge committed an error in ruling, the decision can be appealed.  Also, if your DeKalb DUI charge is reduced, dismissed, or you are found not guilty, the suspension is lifted and deleted off your driver’s history as a matter of law.

Can I handle the license suspension hearing myself?

Because a license suspension hearing from a Georgia DUI arrest is a very complex subject that even many lawyers don’t understand, our experienced DeKalb DUI lawyers strongly encourage you to contact us right away to discuss your DeKalb DUI case.  There are simply too many variables that can impact your driving privileges to be discussed here without knowing the specific facts of your case and your prior criminal history.  Remember, you only have 10 business days to request a license suspension hearing through the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

Call our experienced DeKalb County DUI lawyers today:

If you are facing a DeKalb DUI charge, license suspension action, or have been ticketed for a serious traffic offense, contact our experienced DeKalb County DUI lawyers today.  We will meet with you free of charge to discuss your options, and provide advice based on our experience in the court where your case will be heard.  Call us today at 404.816.8777.

DeKalb County State Court is located at: 556 N. McDonough Street in the DeKalb County Courthouse on the Decatur Square.