Gwinnett County DUI Lawyers

Call us today.  Our experienced Gwinnett County DUI lawyers are available 24/7 to discuss your Gwinnett DUI arrest at 404.816.8777.  We offer a free consultation.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Gwinnett over this Memorial Day holiday weekend, Gwinnett 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

Gwinnett DUI Lawyers
Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center

Whether your Gwinnett DUI arrest occurred in Lawrenceville, Duluth, Suwanee, Lilburn, Norcross, or anywhere in Gwinnett County, contact our experienced Gwinnett County DUI lawyers today.  We offer a free consultation.

Being arrested for a Gwinnett DUI can be a stressful experience.  You probably have many questions about your case including what penalties you may face for a DUI?  What is the court process in Gwinnett County?  What defenses are there in my case?  You may also have concerns about your ability to drive and a possible license suspension.  People come to us because we provide the absolute most vigorous defense available to those facing DUI charges in Georgia.  And in the majority of cases, we are able to protect their freedom, ability to drive, and criminal record.  You may not feel at this time that you have a strong opportunity to avoid a conviction for the charges you face.  But the law provides protections to you that are very important that may lead to a successful defense in an otherwise seemingly indefensible case!

We are available to answer your questions.  Our experienced Gwinnett DUI lawyers understand the anxiety you may be experiencing.  We can put your mind more at ease as we explain the court and investigation process as well as how we successfully defend DUI cases.  Our lawyers are available anytime to discuss your case – including weekends!  Call us at 404.816.8777 today.

When your Gwinnett DUI case begins in any one of the municipal courts or recorder’s court in Gwinnett County, if you demand a jury trial, the municipal court or recorder’s court loses jurisdiction over your case and it is transferred to the Gwinnett County state or superior court system for prosecution.  Sometimes preserving you right to a jury trial is the best option if the prosecution in municipal court or recorder’s court refuses to negotiate an acceptable resolution in your case.  Some Gwinnett municipal courts simply will not allow a DUI case to be tried in their jurisdiction, leaving the only option to contest your Gwinnett DUI case is in the Gwinnett County State or Superior Court system.

Gwinnett DUI Lawyers
Gwinnett County Recorders Court

If your misdemeanor Gwinnett DUI case was made by the Gwinnett County Police Department, then your case will likely begin in Gwinnett County Recorder’s Court.  Recorder’s Court currently has : Chief Judge Michael Green, Judge Patricia Muise, and Judge Rodney Harris.  Typically one to two prosecutors (called solicitors) from the Gwinnett County Solicitor’s Office are assigned to each courtroom in Recorder’s Court.  Our Gwinnett DUI lawyers are familiar with how recorder’s court operates. 

The Gwinnett County Solicitor’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of your Gwinnett DUI when you request a jury trial in a municipal court or recorder’s court as your case will be prosecuted by their office if it involves misdemeanor charges.  The solicitor’s office is also responsible for prosecuting your case if it is sent directly to the Gwinnett County State Court, bypassing recorders court or any of the municipal courts in Gwinnett County.  The current elected Gwinnett County Solicitor is Rosanna Szabo.  In general, two prosecutors are assigned to each courtroom in Gwinnett County State Court.

There are many times when a jury trial is the best possible option to avoid a DUI conviction in your Gwinnett DUI case.  Because the Gwinnett County Recorder’s Court and municipal courts do not conduct jury trials, your case would need to be transferred to the Gwinnett County State Court for trial.  Gwinnett State Court currently has six state court judges and two senior state court judges.  Your case will be assigned to one of the six judges once your case is filed with the Gwinnett County Clerk of Court.  Our GwinnettDUI lawyers try DUI cases in Gwinnett County on a regular basis.  Because we frequently contest DUI cases in Gwinnett County State Court, we are familiar with the judges and the prosecutors who will be handling your case.

Even though your case may have been sent to Gwinnett County State Court from a municipal court or Gwinnett Recorder’s Court, there are also times the facts of a particular Gwinnett DUI may be best suited for a “bench trial” (a trial where the judge decides the case instead of a jury).  This determination is usually made after an investigation in your Gwinnett DUI is complete, where we look to the judge assignment, the facts of the case, and the legal issues involved.

The Gwinnett County Police department has a specialized DUI Task Force.  The Gwinnett DUI Task Force officers, like all Gwinnett County police officers, have received at a minimum 16 hours of DUI training in the police academy.  Most Gwinnett DUI Task Force officers trained have received an additional 24 hour standardized field sobriety course endorsed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).   Some Gwinnett DUI Task Force officers have received additional DUI training such as ARIDE (Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement), or DRE (Drug Recognition Expert).  All of the Gwinnett County DUI Task Force officers are certified by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to operate the Intoxilyzer 5000.  Many, if not all the Gwinnett DUI Task Force officers are certified on Georgia’s newest breath testing instrument, the Intoxilyzer 9000.

Our Gwinnett DUI defense attorneys know how to challenge a Gwinnett DUI.  We are all trained in Standardized Field Sobriety evaluations.  Mr. Sullivan was certified in Standardized Field Sobriety evaluations by SFST instructors with the Conyers Police Department and Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office.  One of the benefits of investigating and contesting a Gwinnett DUI, is that most of the Gwinnett DUI Task Force vehicles are equipped with video and audio.  Their video equipment has some features similar to a DVR or TVO that many people have at home for their TV’s.  Their equipment is continuously recording, but will not preserve anything until the officer either manually activates recording, or the officer activates his emergency equipment (lights).  Then the video will preserve somewhere between 30 and 60 seconds of time before activation and typically the Gwinnett DUI officers will run their video until it is turned off when they reach the jail or their final destination.  Videos can be obtained or viewed through the court process.

Members of the Gwinnett County Police DUI Task Force include: Cpl. M.J. Blute, B.. Harter, C.A. Deming, A.M. Kingsley, JT. Tait, B. Harter, M.K. Wyman, S.C. Mycols, M.L. Williamson, and J.N. Cyphers.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recognized a number of Gwinnett officers for their DUI arrests:

Gwinnett Officers Dennis Hornes, Jonathan Kelly, Shawn Mycols, and Joshua Swaim were awarded the MADD Red Pin in 2014 for the amount of Gwinnett DUI arrests they made the previous year.  Gwinnett Officers Wes Bagley, Christopher Baily and Matthew Williamson also received MADD Gold Pins for the amount of Gwinnett DUI arrests they made the previous year.   Gwinnett Officers Jordan Cyphers, Brooks Harter, Jonathan Hensley, Brian Notestine, and Daniel Ondic received MADD Silver Pins for the amount of Gwinnett DUI arrests they made the previous year.

Gwinnett Officer Michael Blute received a Blue DRE Pin and Gwinnett Officers Joshua Swaim and Patrick Adams received Red DRE Pins in 2014.  

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

To build a strong DUI defense in Georgia, our Gwinnett County DUI lawyers start by meeting with you about your Gwinnett 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 Gwinnett DUI lawyers then analyze your 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 Gwinnett DUI.  All of our lawyers are involved in your case.  Our DUI defense lawyers have regular meetings on all of our cases, so the lead DUI lawyer can get as much input as possible in developing a winning strategy in your Gwinnett DUI case. 

Can I just enter a guilty plea myself and avoid hiring an experienced Gwinnett DUI 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 Gwinnett County DUI lawyer is better able to handle than someone representing him or herself.  Here are some reasons why you may consider hiring the Chestney Law Firm 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 Gwinnett DUI 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 administrative action is conducted properly.
  • If your license is suspended for refusing the State’s chemical test from losing a license 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 Gwinnett 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 Gwinnett Recorders Court as well as Gwinnett County State Court or Superior Court can assess a plea offer to determine if it is worth taking or whether it is best 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

Gwinnett DUI Lawyers
Office of State Administrative Hearings

Besides your DUI criminal case pending in Gwinnett County, you are likely facing an administrative license suspension.  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.  If you have been arrested by a Gwinnett DUI Task Force Officer, you can be sure that they initiated a license suspension action against you.  The notice 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: 

Gwinnett DUI Lawyers
DS 1205 form

Regardless as to whether you have actually received a DS 1205 form, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you take 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 Gwinnett DUI criminal case.  We 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 DUI case with our dedicated Gwinnett DUI lawyers at 404.816.8777.  Our Gwinnett DUI defense lawyers are experienced in handling license suspension actions.  We can review your case and prepare a strategy for your Gwinnett 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 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 Gwinnett 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 your Gwinnett DUI 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 your Gwinnett DUI 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 we 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 to gain an advantage in your Gwinnett 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 action and will transmit the order to the Georgia Department of Driver Services, who will then impose the license suspension.  Again, 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 we still may be able to gain an advantage in the criminal case based on testimony from the license suspension hearing.  If the judge committed an error in ruling, the decision can be appealed.  Also, if your Gwinnett 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 an administrative license suspension from a Georgia DUI arrest is a very complex subject that even many lawyers don’t understand, we strongly encourage you to contact us right away to discuss your Gwinnett 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 Gwinnett DUI lawyers today:

If you are facing a Gwinnett DUI charge, license suspension action, or have been ticketed for a serious traffic offense, contact our experienced Gwinnett 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.