If you have been arrested anywhere in Georgia for a DUI, our experienced Georgia DUI lawyers are available to speak with you about your DUI case anytime, including after-hours, weekends, and holidays! If you are visiting from out of town, we may be able to appear in Court on your behalf, so you don’t have to! Call Chestney & Sullivan today.
Our experienced Georgia DUI trial lawyers are available 24/7 to discuss your DUI case free of charge at 404.816.8777. Mr. Chestney is board certified in DUI defense by NCDD (National College for DUI Defense) and Mr. Sullivan is a former prosecutor and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) certified. Our Georgia DUI lawyers offer a free in-office consultation to discuss how we can effectively defend your Driving Under the Influence case in Atlanta or anywhere in Georgia. This past summer, Georgia State Patrol and just about every other law enforcement agency in Georgia enforced its 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. campaign from May 17 through Labor Day. Click It or Ticket ran from May 17 through June 6. Operation Zero Tolerance ran from mid-June through the Fourth of July weekend, and the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign was enforced from mid-August through Labor Day, resulting in 14 DUI arrests. Local law enforcement H.E.A.T. units, such as the Atlanta Police Department definitely participate in all of the sober driving campaigns. We also saw a concentrated effort for DUI detection, including road blocks (checkpoints) recently during the Click It or Ticket campaign over the Thanksgiving holiday. The Click It or Ticket campaign ran from November 15 to November 28. The last sober driving campaign this year was the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign that ran from December 15 though January 1 (New Year’s Day). The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) constantly issues warnings about the dangers of driving while impaired, especially ahead of major holidays and events, like the Super Bowl. Georgia State Patrol has announced they will increase patrols during the holidays. Here is a recent Tweet from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety:
Never take a chance to drive after drinking. Have a plan for a ride with a a sober friend, taxi, or rideshare before the celebration begins. #drivesober #dontgetpulledover #drunkdrivingkills #zerotolerance pic.twitter.com/50WyjzAUpz
— Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety (@gohsgeorgia) January 13, 2022
With the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season here, people are now hitting the roads to restaurants, bars, concerts, friends, destinations, or to resupply the liquor cabinets for family holiday gatherings at home. Also, with Governor Kemp ending Covid-19 restrictions, restaurants, bars, sporting, and concert venues are now open. In many places, football parties, beer and wine festivals are happening once again as more people get vaccinated. The Mayor of Atlanta also recently lifted the mask mandate. With more folks going out, expect more DUI enforcement throughout Georgia.
If you are arrested in 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 Christmas and New Years as many courts shut down for the holidays. Call Chestney & Sullivan today if you or a loved one has been arrested, we may be able to expedite the bonding process in Atlanta.
Recent Appellate Cases:
A major Georgia Supreme Court decision regarding Georgia DUI’s was issued 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! Bob Chestney also argued the illegality of breath tests in Georgia DUI cases pursuant to very important protections afforded to defendants under the Georgia Constitution in front of the Georgia Supreme Court on February 5, 2019. Important decisions are coming from our appellate courts that is enforcing the rights of drivers not to be compelled to submit to field sobriety evaluations, and portable breath tests, or the state-administered breath test at the police station or jail. A recent 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 that against you at trial. However, the Supreme Court of Georgia has accepted an interlocutory appeal in Mia Lashay Ammons v. State to take a look at this issue.
Substantial changes in Georgia DUI law regarding license suspensions took effect July 1, 2017. This impacts 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 understand what may happen to your Georgia driver’s license or privilege to drive here in in Georgia right away while your Georgia DUI case is pending. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Georgia, experienced 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
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. A substantial change in Georgia’s DUI law took effect July 1, 2017 that pertains to administrative license suspension actions. It is important to be fully informed about several paths you can take regarding this administrative license suspension action. Contact us 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 are 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 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 Alpharetta, Canton, Cumming, Dawsonville, Decatur, Gainesville, Johns Creek, Marietta, Milton, 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.
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 a 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, however, there is a saying that “a person who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Driving under the influence charges in Georgia are 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 are better able to handle than someone representing him or herself. Here are some reasons why you might consider hiring the 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!
- Sometime 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 applies 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 to 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 to 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 on 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
IMPORTANT INFORMATION CONCERNING YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE WHILE YOUR GEORGIA DUI CRIMINAL CHARGES ARE PENDING IN COURT
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 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).
- We strongly suggest that you set up an online account with the Georgia Department of Driver Services to monitor the status of your driver’s license
Regardless 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.
Three tracks you can take [beware of making a choice without the advice of an experienced DUI lawyer]:
- Do nothing within 30 days of the date of your Georgia DUI arrest: In most cases we do not recommend this option as 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 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.
- Request an administrative hearing: This is the traditional track that has been the law for many years now, 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.
- Properly waive your right to an administrative hearing and have an ignition interlock installed: This track came into effect July 1, 2017. This allows first DUI arrest in five years drivers to be able to drive in the state of Georgia and fight their 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 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.
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 County, DeKalb County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Forsyth County, Gwinnett County, or anywhere in Georgia, you deserve the best defense available. Contact Chestney & Sullivan today at 404.816.8777.