Contact us today. Our experienced Milton DUI lawyers are available 24/7 at 404.816.8777 to discuss your case. We offer a free consultation.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Milton, Georgia 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
If you are charged with a DUI in Milton, our experienced Milton DUI lawyers are prepared to fight to avoid a DUI conviction.
Milton Municipal Court is located at 13000 Deerfield Parkway, Suite 107E. It is located in the same suite as City Hall. The City of Milton Police Department is located at 13000 Deerfield Parkway, Suite 107F in the same office complex as municipal court/city hall. We appear in Milton Municipal Court on a regular basis. Judge Brian Hansford is the Chief Judge of Milton Municipal Court although other judges may sit on the bench from time to time. The solicitor (prosecutor) of your Milton DUI case is Fran Shoenthal.
Milton Municipal Court is a court of “limited jurisdiction,” meaning that they do not have jury trials there. If you want a judge to decide your case at trial, that is called a “bench trial,” where the prosecution has the burden to prove each element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt and a judge decides if the prosecution has met its burden. 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 Milton DUI case. Because the Milton Municipal Court does not conduct jury trials or bench trials in DUI cases, your case would need to be transferred to Fulton County State Court for trial. Fulton State Court currently has ten state court judges. Your case will be assigned to one of the ten judges once the Fulton State Court Solicitor files your case with the Fulton County State Court Clerk’s Office. Because each State Court judge handles their caseloads differently, it is important that Milton DUI lawyers know how each particular courtroom operates. Our Milton DUI lawyers try cases in Fulton County on a regular basis. Because our main practice area is Fulton County and we frequently contest DUI cases in Fulton County State Court, we are very familiar with the judges and prosecutors who will be handling your case.
Our Milton DUI defense attorneys know how to challenge a Milton DUI Task Force case. We are 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 a Milton DUI case is that most of their patrol 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 Milton police 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.
How our skilled Milton DUI lawyers build a successful DUI defense:
To build a strong DUI defense in Georgia, your Milton DUI attorney should start by learning everything possible from the information you present. Based on this information, he or she can find more evidence by using specialized resources as needed to determine if all testing and other details of your arrest were accurate and legal. This determination is the basis for a strong drunken driving defense in Georgia. We have our own in-house investigator that gathers information, videos, 911 calls, possible surveillance videos, police reports, documents road/scene conditions and more. There are 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 experienced Milton DUI attorneys analyze a case from the initial stop or reason why the police were involved, looks for suppression issues with the admissibility of field sobriety tests or state chemical tests (breath, blood, or urine tests), and develop strategies in how to best conduct administrative license suspension hearings, preliminary/committal motion hearings and trial. Our team approach is an effective way to ensure we have covered all the bases in defending your Milton DUI.
Can I just enter a guilty plea myself and avoid hiring an experienced Milton 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 Milton Municipal Court or Fulton County State Court. Even if you think you are guilty and may not want to fight your case all the way, there are matters that a skilled Milton 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. If you have been arrested by a Milton DUI Task Force 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 the suspension 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 Milton 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 Milton DUI attorney who is familiar with Milton Municipal Court and Fulton 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
Besides your DUI case pending in Milton Municipal Court, you are likely facing an administrative license suspension – a separate action from your criminal case. 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 a 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:
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 hearing. That sounds counter-intuitive, but in a limited number of circumstances, it is a wise strategy to gain an advantage in your Milton 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 Milton DUI case with our experienced DUI defense lawyers at 404.816.8777. Our dedicated Milton DUI lawyers are experienced in fighting DUI charges and license suspension actions. We can review your case and prepare a strategy for your criminal case and saving your license.
Once a proper request for a 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 where a hearing will be scheduled in front of an OSAH judge. Typically a hearing date is set roughly 30 to 60 days from the date of your 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 DUI license suspension 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. 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 OSAH 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 license suspension hearing conducted?
The judge will enforce the Georgia Rules of Evidence, similar to other court proceedings. Because the burden is on your Milton 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. Your Milton DUI 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 OSAH 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. This does not mean that your Milton DUI criminal case is being dismissed, but a license suspension hearing can be a great tool to gain an advantage in your Milton DUI criminal case.
What happens if I lose the hearing?
If the OSAH 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 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 hearing. If the judge committed an error in ruling, the decision can be appealed.
Can I handle the hearing myself?
Because a 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 Milton 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 an administrative hearing through the Georgia Department of Driver Services.
Call our experienced Milton DUI lawyers today:
If you are facing a Milton DUI charge, a license supension action, or have been ticketed for a serious traffic offense, call our experienced Milton 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. Contact us today at 404.816.8777.