Atlanta, GA DUI Attorneys

Experienced Atlanta, GA DUI Attorneys at Chestney & Sullivan

If you have been arrested anywhere in Georgia for a DUI, our experienced Atlanta, GA DUI Attorneys are available to speak with you about your DUI case anytime, including after-hours, holidays, and weekends. Call Chestney & Sullivan today 404.816.8777

Atlanta, GA DUI Attorneys
Atlanta, GA DUI Attorneys

Our Atlanta, GA DUI attorneys understand what you are going through. Our experienced Atlanta, Ga DUI attorneys are available to speak to you about your DUI case anytime, including after-hours, holidays, and weekends free of charge at 404.816.8777. Mr. Sullivan is a former prosecutor and is Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) certified. Mr. Sullivan went through Standardized Filed Sobriety training with members of the Conyers Police Department and the Rockdale County Sheriff’s department when he was a prosecutor. Our Georgia DUI lawyers also offer a free in-office consultation to go over your case in more detail and discuss how we can effectively defend your Driving Under the Influence case in the Atlanta area or anywhere in Georgia.

If you are arrested in the City of Atlanta for a DUI, you will have to wait to see a judge before you will be able to bond out – that means if you are arrested on Friday, you likely will not see a judge until Sunday. Judges will be holding bond hearings at the jail, or at the courthouse, but the schedule may be sporadic – especially around holidays as many courts shut down. Call Chestney & Sullivan today at 404.816.8777.

Recent Appellate Cases:

A major Georgia Supreme Court decision regarding Georgia DUIs was issued on February 18, 2019, that impacts your right under the Georgia Constitution to refuse to submit to an in-custody breath test and that refusal cannot be used against you at a criminal trial! Important decisions are coming from our appellate courts that protect the rights of drivers not to be compelled to submit to field sobriety evaluations, portable breath tests, or the state-administered breath test at the police station or jail. Recent appellate cases also include a Georgia Court of Appeals decision in Woods v. State extended protections against the police from compelling drivers to perform field sobriety exercises. A logical extension of another appellate decision in State v. Bradberry would mean that if you refuse to submit to field sobriety evaluations, the prosecution cannot use the refusal against you at trial. The Supreme Court of Georgia agreed, In Mia Lashay Ammons v. State,  the Georgia Supreme Court extended Georgia constitutional protections to not be compelled to submit to an act to pre-arrest field sobriety evaluations as well as portable breath test devices.  What does this mean for you? You have the right not to be compelled to submit to an act that might incriminate you, including field sobriety evaluations and portable breath tests under the Georgia Constitution.  If you exercise that right, the prosecution cannot mention your refusal to submit to “acts” at a criminal trial! Also, a critical case on the admissibility of blood test “refusals” pursuant to the implied consent notice was sent back to the trial court for clarification on the harm or chilling effect the language would have on a suspect deciding to voluntarily take or refuse a blood test  (State v. Randall).  The Athens trial court issued a decision granting Randall’s motion to suppress Randall’s refusal to submit to a blood test.  Randall went back in the Georgia Supreme Court, where oral arguments were heard on November 7, 2023 and the case was sent back down to the trial court for consideration of an evidentiary rule to determine the admissibility (or inadmissibility) of the refusal to submit to the blood test. The Randall case will not return to the Georgia Supreme Court  Mr. Sullivan also won a motion hearing on the same issue as Randall in Fulton County and the prosecution appealed the granting of Mr. Sullivan’s motion.  Mr. Sullivan’s case, State v. Dias, is currently pending in the Georgia Court of Appeals. 

There have been substantial changes in Georgia DUI law regarding license suspension actions.  These changes impact YOU and your ability to drive – even before your Georgia Driving Under the Influence criminal case begins or has concluded! Action needs to be taken within 30 days from the date of your arrest regarding your driver’s license. It is critical that you act within 30 days and understand what may happen to your Georgia driver’s license or privilege to drive here in Georgia. Experienced DUI trial attorney James “Skip” Sullivan is available to discuss your case anytime – including after-hours and weekends! Call us at 404.816.8777

Whether you were out in Atlanta with friends and loved ones or attending an event, being arrested for a Georgia DUI can be a stressful experience – especially if you have been summoned to appear in court for a DUI in Atlanta the very next business day! You probably have many questions about penalties for a DUI in Georgia, the court process, and possible defenses you may have in your case. 

You may also have concerns about your driver’s license and ability to drive. As previously stated, substantial changes in Georgia’s DUI law took effect July 1, 2017, that  impacts administrative license suspension actions. Drivers arrested for DUIs in Georgia need to be fully informed about these changes and about several paths that can be taken regarding an administrative license suspension action. Contact Chestney & Sullivan today and we will be happy to explain which path might be right for you.

Vigorously defending Driving Under the Influence and serious traffic offenses like Vehicular Homicide, Serious Injury by Motor Vehicle, and Hit and Run is essentially all we do. Our experienced Atlanta GA DUI attorneys are available to answer your questions. We are not like other lawyers who use pressure tactics to hire them. Our experienced DUI lawyers in Georgia understand the anxiety you are experiencing. We can put your mind more at ease as we explain how we successfully defend Georgia DUI cases. We will also explain the court and investigation process where your case is pending. Our experienced DUI lawyers are available anytime to discuss your case – including on weekends! We can also appear in court with you if you have an initial court date the very next business day in Atlanta Municipal Court. Just give us a call at 404.816.8777.

For more detailed information about your DUI arrest in Atlanta and the Atlanta Municipal Court process, click here: Atlanta DUI arrest 

Why we exclusively defend Driving Under the Influence cases in Georgia:

Some people simply can’t have a Georgia DUI conviction. The Atlanta salesperson. Johns Creek Surgeon. Athens full-time student. Gwinnett small business owner. Or the Marietta / Cobb professional driver. There are other members of our community that also must have a valid driver’s license … and a clean criminal record. At Chestney & Sullivan, all we do is defend DUI charges and other serious driving offenses – and have been exclusively and effectively doing so for 25 years and counting! We represent clients across the state, including those charged with drunken driving in northern Georgia cities such as AlpharettaCantonCumming, Dawsonville, Decatur, Gainesville, Johns CreekMariettaMilton, and Roswell to those arrested by the Atlanta DUI Task Force or Georgia State Patrol Nighthawks. Our attorneys will travel all the way down to Peachtree City, Macon, LaGrange, and as far east as Athens to Carrollton in west Georgia and beyond. People we represent are typically individuals that fit the description above. They come to us because we provide the absolute most vigorous defense available to those facing Driving Under the Influence charges in Georgia. And in the majority of cases, we are able to protect their freedom, ability to drive, and their criminal record. Mr. Chestney is board certified in DUI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense and Mr. Sullivan is a former prosecutor.

Possible defenses for a Georgia DUI

You may not feel at this time that you have a strong opportunity to avoid a conviction for the DUI charges you face. But the law provides protections to you that are very important. Some examples are:

  • Was the initial stop legal?
  • Did your officer properly administer the field sobriety tests in accordance with NHTSA standards?
  • Did the officer give proper advice to request a state-administered breath test from you?
  • Was the device used to test your blood alcohol level properly calibrated and tested for accuracy within the required time prior to your driving under the influence arrest?
  • Did medical conditions or medication contribute to the facts upon which your DUI arrest was based?
  • Is the prosecution’s breath test or chemical test even admissible for trial?
  • Can your arresting officer legally suspend your driving privileges?
  • Has the prosecution violated your right to a speedy trial under the United State Constitution, Georgia Constitution, or the Georgia Code?

These are only some of the strategies that would make a seemingly indefensible case a winnable case! All of our experienced Georgia DUI lawyers have dedicated themselves to providing the best Driving Under the Influence defense possible.

Can I represent myself on my Georgia Driving Under the Influence charge and avoid the expense of hiring an experienced Georgia DUI lawyer?

Sure you can represent yourself in your Georgia Driving Under the Influence case and avoid the expense of hiring an experienced Georgia DUI lawyer.  However, there is a saying that “a person who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Driving under the influence charges in Georgia is one of the most serious charges that are prosecuted in municipal court, probate court, state, or superior court. Even if you think you are guilty and may not want to fight your Georgia DUI case all the way, there are matters that a skilled DUI lawyer in Georgia is better able to handle than someone representing him or herself. Here are some reasons why you might consider hiring Chestney & Sullivan rather than representing yourself:

  • If you represent yourself, you will put your driving privileges in jeopardy if you simply go to court and enter a guilty plea. And if you have been arrested by a Georgia DUI Task Force officer or Georgia State Patrol Nighthawk DUI Task Force Trooper, you should have been served notice of an administrative license suspension action. If you enter a guilty plea without properly addressing this license suspension action, you will not be able to get a limited permit (if you are eligible to get one at all) unless the suspension action is conducted effectively or disposed of properly.
  • If your license or privilege to drive is administratively suspended for refusing the State’s chemical test from either losing a license suspension hearing or failing to address the license suspension action within 30 days from the date of your arrest, your Georgia driver’s license or driving privileges will be suspended for one year with NO PERMIT starting on the 46th day after the date of your arrest. Having our experienced Georgia DUI attorneys properly navigate and defend the criminal case and the administrative license suspension action can improve your chances of being able to drive and possibly avoid a Georgia DUI conviction.
  • Other criminal or traffic charges in addition to your Georgia driving under the influence charge may be more serious and carry more punishment than the DUI charge itself such as DUI Child Endangerment or Fleeing and Attempting to Elude. If you enter a guilty plea to these other charges, your Georgia driver’s license may be put in serious jeopardy – possibly you being declared a Habitual Violator!
  • Sometimes the prosecutor may give you a bad plea offer. Even if you decide not to contest your Georgia DUI case, our experienced DUI attorneys in Georgia who are familiar with the particular court your case is pending in can assess a plea offer to determine if it is worth accepting or rejecting and take your case to trial.
  • If you decide to represent yourself at trial, the Georgia Rules of Evidence still apply to you. Lawyers go to law school for years to learn these rules and you will also be at the mercy of a skilled prosecutor and judge if you are not careful. You may inadvertently make incriminating statements that a prosecutor can use against you if you are not represented by an experienced DUI attorney.

More police agencies are using search warrants (for your blood) to use in the prosecution of your Driving Under the Influence case:

On July 1, 2006, a law took effect in Georgia that expands the available use of search warrants in Driving Under the Influence cases (OCGA 40-5-67.1(d.1)). This law was passed after the Georgia Supreme Court in State v. Collier, 279 Ga. 316 (2005), ruled that law enforcement officers could not use coercion techniques to obtain a blood sample by threatening to get a search warrant and use a catheter to obtain it. The statute at the time of the Collier case prohibited search warrants for bodily substances if a person refuses to submit to a chemical test pursuant to the Georgia Implied Consent Notice. The 2006 legislation was an attempt to expand the use of search warrants in Driving Under the Influence arrests. We believe the final version falls short of allowing search warrants for blood, breath, or urine samples when a suspect refuses to submit a sample after being read the Georgia Implied Consent Notice. The language of “no test shall be given” if a driver refuses the state chemical test is still in the current version of the statute. Our firm is also making a constitutional challenge on how the 2006 statute was passed by the Georgia Assembly (Georgia legislature). If the police obtained a chemical sample from you after getting a search warrant, call us today and we can explain in more detail how we are attacking the admissibility of chemical tests obtained by search warrants in Driving Under the Influence cases. Although you may have ultimately given a chemical sample to the police pursuant to a search warrant, the officer may still attempt to suspend your Georgia driver’s license or privilege to drive here in this state administratively if you refused initially to submit to a chemical test when the implied consent notice was read. See below for steps that may need to be taken to protect your driving privileges. 

For more information about where our experienced DUI attorneys defend DUI cases in Georgia, click here: Where we go to defend your DUI

Atlanta, GA DUI Attorneys
Office of State Administrative Hearings


Besides your Georgia DUI case pending in Court, you are likely facing an administrative license suspension – a separate action from your Driving Under the Influence criminal charges. There is only a limited time to request a hearing regarding this license suspension action. The hearing is conducted through the Office of State Administrative Hearings. If you have been charged with a DUI in Georgia, chances are the officer served you with a notice of a license suspension. If you were arrested by a DUI task force officer or a Georgia State Patrol Trooper, you can be sure that you were served with a notice of a license suspension action. 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. This notice is commonly referred to as a DDS-1205 form (indicated on the bottom left corner of the form). The top of the form will say “Georgia Department of Driver Services.” This form is either yellow or white and the officer may have had you sign it. Officers sometimes explain that this form acts as a temporary driving permit, but never explain that this form also serves as a notice to you that the officer initiated a license suspension action against you. Sometimes this form gets lost (you may have received it – but may have been misplaced, or it may have been lost at the jail).

Regardless of whether you have actually received a DDS-1205 form, it is important for you to understand that you only have 30 days to request a hearing to preserve your driving privileges or waive your hearing through the Georgia Department of Driver Services by opting for an ignition interlock device permit. 

DDS-1205 form. Atlanta, GA DUI Attorneys
DDS-1205 form

Three tracks you can take [beware of making a choice without the advice of an experienced DUI lawyer]:

  1. Do nothing within 30 days of the date of your Georgia DUI arrest:

    In most cases, we do not recommend that you do nothing within 30 days of the date of your Georgia DUI arrest. If you do nothing within 30 days from the date of your arrest and your officer initiated an administrative license suspension action, then on the 46th day after the date of your arrest, your driving privileges will automatically be suspended by the Georgia Department of Driver Services. Even if you did not receive the DDS-1205 form, we still recommend that you take some sort of action instead of doing nothing. However, there are limited circumstances where we recommend our clients take no action, but those circumstances are very rare.

  2. Request an administrative hearing:

    The traditional track that has been the law for many years now is to request an administrative hearing, except now there are thirty days instead of ten business days to submit a request for a hearing. This track is where a request for an administrative hearing is submitted to the Georgia Department of Driver Services (along with a $150 processing fee) challenging your Georgia DUI officer’s decision to administratively suspend your driver’s license for testing above Georgia’s “per se” legal limit for alcohol concentration, or for refusing the officer’s request for a state-administered chemical test of your breath, blood, urine, or other bodily substances.  

  3. Properly waive your right to an administrative hearing and have an ignition interlock installed:

    This track came into effect on July 1, 2017. This allows the first DUI arrest in five years for you to properly waive your right to an administrative hearing and have an ignition interlock device installed. This allows you to be able to drive in the state of Georgia and fight your Georgia DUI criminal case without losing the privilege to drive. It comes with a cost of course. It involves you waiving your right to an administrative hearing through the Georgia Department of Driver Services and you will need to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle by a certified ignition interlock provider for a minimum of 120 days if you tested over the “per se” legal limit. You will have to suffer through one solid year of having the ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle (and driving under the confines of an ignition interlock permit) if you refused the officer’s request for a state-administered chemical test. If you choose this track, we highly advise that you install the ignition interlock first, then go to DDS within 30 days from the date of arrest to obtain the permit. There are obvious concerns and pitfalls in choosing this track. For many people, the stigma of having the ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle is not worth it. The ignition interlock device is also expensive: it requires an installation fee as well as a monthly monitoring fee. And if you remove it while under your ignition interlock permit, tamper with it, or it tests positive, your permit to drive may be revoked for six months – meaning no driving at all. In addition to waiving your right to an administrative hearing and having an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle, you must also meet the following conditions:

  • Application for the permit must be made with DDS within 30 days of the person being served notice of the ALS by your Georgia DUI arresting officer through the DDS-1205 form, or—in the event of a DDS-1205S form—within 30 days of receiving such notice of the ALS from DDS;
  • The ALS cannot stem from a motor vehicle accident involving fatalities or serious injuries;
  • The person must be licensed in Georgia and not have any other suspensions, cancellations, or revocations against his or her Georgia driver’s license;
  • If the person holds a Georgia commercial driver’s license (CDL), he or she must downgrade to a non-commercial Georgia driver’s license in order to obtain and maintain the permit;
  • A driver cannot have any prior convictions for DUI in the 5-year period preceding application for the permit;
  • The person must surrender his or her Georgia driver’s license, either to the arresting officer at the time of arrest or to DDS prior to issuance of the permit; and,
  • There is a $25.00 ignition interlock permit fee.

The period a person must successfully maintain the ignition interlock device on their vehicle will be based on whether he or she consents to or refuses the state-administered chemical test requested by your arresting officer. 

A person who consents to the state-administered chemical test and opts for the new permit will be required to successfully maintain the ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a period of 4 months. If he or she is subsequently acquitted of the underlying Georgia DUI charge, or the underlying DUI charge is dismissed or reduced, the ignition interlock device may be removed at no cost and the driver’s license may be replaced. A person who refuses the state-administered chemical test and opts for the new permit will be required to successfully maintain the ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a period of 12 months, regardless of the outcome of the underlying Georgia DUI charge.   

Successful maintenance of the ignition interlock device must be evidenced by the permit holder to DDS through the production of satisfactory monthly monitoring reports prior to DDS removing the ignition interlock restriction from the permit. A permit may be renewed for a fee of $5.00 if additional time is needed for the permit holder to comply with the terms of the ignition interlock device, but it may only be renewed one time once the permit holder becomes eligible to reinstate his or her driver’s license. Following the designated term of successful compliance, the ignition interlock device restriction may be removed from the limited driving permit in person at a DDS Customer Service Center for a fee of $100.00 (or $90.00 if removal of the restriction is requested by mail or other approved alternate means). The removal fee is in addition to any reinstatement fee that may be required.

Every Summer, Georgia State Patrol and just about every other law enforcement agency in Georgia enforces the 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. campaign from Mid-May through Labor Day and has now begun. The Click It or Ticket campaign ran from May 13, through Memorial Day, June 3 and will again run for the Thanksgiving holiday. Operation Zero Tolerance recently ran from June 24, through the Fourth of July until July 7. The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign will run from August 14 through Labor Day, September 2, and again from mid-December through New Years Day. Local law enforcement H.E.A.T. units, such as the Atlanta Police Department definitely participate in all of the sober driving mobilization campaigns. We continue to see a concentrated effort for DUI detection, including roadblocks (checkpoints) during major sporting events, concerts, and holidays,. The Georgia State Patrol issued a press release noting 18 traffic deaths reported over the Independence Day travel period, and 500 DUI arrests. The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) constantly issue warnings about the dangers of driving drunk and designate a sober driver Here are recent social media posts on Facebook and Twitter from Georgia GOHS and NHTSA about the dangers of drunk driving or buzzed driving, and to drive sober: 

The experienced Atlanta-based DUI attorneys at Chestney & Sullivan will zealously investigate and defend every aspect of your arrest. If there is something that provides grounds for reasonable doubt of your guilt, we will find it. And we are prepared to go as far as necessary within Georgia law to protect your rights. If you are facing serious DUI or vehicular homicide charges in Atlanta/Fulton CountyDeKalb CountyCobb CountyCherokee CountyForsyth CountyGwinnett County, or anywhere in Georgia, you deserve the best defense available. Contact Chestney & Sullivan today at 404.816.8777.

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