If you have been arrested in Alpharetta for a DUI, we are available to discuss your case. We are available to speak with you about your Alpharetta DUI case anytime, including after hours and weekends. If you are visiting from out of town, we can appear in Alpharetta Municipal Court on your behalf, so you don’t have to! Call Chestney & Sullivan today: 404.816.8777
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Alpharetta, experienced DUI trial attorneys James “Skip” Sullivan and Bob Chestney are available to discuss your case anytime – including after-hours and weekends! Mr. Chestney is Board Certified in DUI Defense by NCDD (National College for DUI Defense) and Mr. Sullivan is a former prosecutor. Our Alpharetta DUI lawyers offer a free in-office consultation on how we can effectively defend your Alpharetta DUI charges. Call us today at 404.816.8777.
Being arrested for an Alpharetta DUI can be a stressful experience. You probably have many questions about your case including what penalties you may face for a DUI in Alpharetta? What is the court process in Alpharetta Municipal Court? What defenses are there in my DUI 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, our Alpharetta DUI lawyers 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 DUI case!
We are available to answer your questions. Our experienced Alpharetta 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 charges in Alpharetta Municipal Court or in Fulton County State Court. Our DUI lawyers are available anytime to discuss your case – including weekends! Call us at 404.816.8777 today.
Alpharetta Municipal Court is located in the front of the Crabapple Government Center at 12624 Broadwell Road, Alpharetta, Georgia 30004. The Alpharetta Police Department is located 2565 Old Milton Parkway, Alpharetta, Georgia 30009 at the intersection of Old Milton Parkway and Westside Parkway. Our Alpharetta DUI lawyers appear in Alpharetta Municipal Court on a regular basis. It is important for your Alpharetta DUI attorney to be familiar with this jurisdiction. Chief Judge Barry Zimmerman is the appointed Alpharetta Municipal Court judge, although other judges such as Judge Lee Whiteside may sit on the bench from time to time. The solicitor (prosecutor) of your Alpharetta DUI case is Fran Shoenthal.
Alpharetta 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 Alpharetta DUI without a jury, that is called a “bench trial.” At a bench trial, the prosecution still has the burden to prove each element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt and the judge decides if the prosecution has met its burden. Sometimes a “bench trial” is a sound strategy, sometimes it is not. The prosecutor in Alpharetta elects not to conduct bench trials in Alpharetta DUI cases, meaning the DUI case would need to be transferred to Fulton County State Court for a bench or jury trial.
There are many times when a jury trial is the best possible option to avoid a DUI conviction on your Alpharetta DUI case. 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 Alpharetta DUI charge with the Fulton County State Court Clerk’s Office. Because each Fulton County State Court judge handles their caseloads differently, it is also important that your Alpharetta DUI lawyer knows how each particular courtroom operates. Because our Alpharetta DUI lawyers frequently try cases in Fulton County, we are familiar with the judges and the prosecutors who will be handling your case.
The Alpharetta Police Department has a dedicated group of officers that make up the Alpharetta DUI Task Force. Like all Alpharetta police officers, these DUI officers have received at a minimum 16 hours of DUI training in the police academy. Most Alpharetta 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 Alpharetta 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 Alpharetta DUI Task Force officers are certified by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to operate Georgia’s newest breath testing instrument, the Intoxilyzer 9000.
Our Alpharetta DUI defense attorneys know how to challenge an Alpharetta 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 an Alpharetta 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 the Alpharetta 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.
Currently, the Alpharetta DUI Task Force officers include: Caitlin Lawrence, Dustin Bak, Doug French, Michael Knoll, D. G. Lambert, and M.R. Swerdlove.
Officer Charles Fannon (now with City of Milton Police) and Officer Michael Stewart received Bronze Pin awards from MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) in 2013 for the amount of DUI arrests they made. Officer Michael Swerdlove received a MADD Gold Pin for 2013. Officers Fannon, Lambert and Swerdlove also received Silver Pin awards in 2014. Officers Daniel Lambert received a blue DRE pin, Officer Derick Derner received a white DRE Pin, and Officer Michael Swerdlove received a DRE red pin in 2014 from MADD.
Alpharetta DUI Officer Charles Fannon received a Bronze Pin award from MADD in 2016. Alpharetta DUI Officers Daniel Lambert and Michael Swerdlove each received Silver Pin awards from MADD in 2016.
Officer Doug French received a White Pin award from MADD in 2016 along with Officer Michael Swerdlove.
How our skilled Alpharetta DUI lawyers build a successful DUI defense:
To build a strong DUI defense in Georgia, your Alpharetta 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, an accident re-constructionist, private investigators, breath test/field sobriety experts, medical professionals, video illustrators, to name a few, to help build a solid defense in your Alpharetta DUI case. Our Alpharetta 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. This team approach is an effective way to ensure we have covered all the bases in defending your Alpharetta DUI charge.
Can I just enter a guilty plea myself and avoid hiring an experienced Alpharetta 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 Alpharetta Municipal Court or in Fulton County State Court. Even if you think you are guilty and may not want to fight your Alpharetta DUI case all the way, there are matters that a skilled Alpharetta 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 an Alpharetta 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 address a suspension action within 30 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 Alpharetta DUI criminal charges and the license suspension action can improve your chances of being able to drive.
- Other charges in addition to your Alpharetta 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 Alpharetta DUI attorney who is familiar with the Alpharetta 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
IMPORTANT INFORMATION CONCERNING YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE WHILE YOUR ALPHARETTA DUI CRIMINAL CHARGES ARE PENDING IN COURT
Besides your DUI case pending in Alpharetta Municipal Court, you are likely facing an administrative license suspension (ALS) – a separate action from your Alpharetta DUI criminal case. There is only a limited time to request this separate hearing to preserve your driving privileges. If you have been charged with a DUI in Alpharetta, chances are the officer served you with a notice of a license suspension. If you were arrested for an Alpharetta DUI by Caitlin Lawrence, M.R. Swerdlove, D. G. Lambert, or M. Bradford, 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 Alpharetta DUI officer to serve you notice of a license suspension. The form that is used is called a DDS-1205 form. This form is either yellow or white and the Alpharetta DUI 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).
- 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: https://dds.georgia.gov/online-services
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 Alpharetta DUI lawyer]:
- Do nothing within 30 days of the date of your Alpharetta DUI arrest: In most cases we do not recommend this path as if you do nothing and your officer initiated an administrative license suspension action, then on the 46th day after the date of your Alpharetta DUI arrest, your driving privileges will automatically be suspended by Georgia Department of Driver Services for one year with no permit to drive. Even if you did not receive the DDS-1205 form as a result of your Alpharetta DUI arrest, we still recommend that you take some sort of action instead of doing nothing. However, there are limited circumstances where we recommend our clients do nothing regarding a license suspension action, but those circumstances are 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 take action. This track is where a request for an administrative hearing is submitted to the Georgia Department of Driver Services challenging the Alpharetta 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 your Alpharetta DUI officer’s request for a state administered chemical test of your breath, blood, urine, or other bodily substances. There is a $150 filing fee made payable to the Dept. of Driver Services in order for DDS to process the hearing request.
- Properly waive your right to an administrative hearing in your Alpharetta DUI case 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 Alpharetta 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 for a minimum of 120 days if you tested over the “per se” legal limit, or 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 Alpharetta DUI 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 just 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:
- An application for the permit must be made with DDS within 30 days of the person being served notice of the administrative license suspension (ALS) by the Alpharetta DUI arresting officer through the DDS-1205 form (usually 30 days from the date of arrest), or—in the event of a DDS-1205S form—within 30 days of receiving such notice of the ALS from DDS (from a blood test result that was not procured by a search warrant);
- 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;
- The person cannot have any prior convictions for DUI in the 5-year period preceding application for the permit. If there is a DUI arrest with a DUI conviction within 5 years of the current Alpharetta DUI arrest, the person can still opt for track 2 – requesting an administrative hearing, or track 1 – do nothing at all;
- A driver must surrender his or her Georgia driver’s license, either to the Alpharetta DUI arresting officer at time of arrest or to DDS prior to issuance of the permit; and,
- The person must pay a $25.00 permit fee to the Georgia Department of Driver Services.
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 the Alpharetta DUI 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 Alpharetta 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 Alpharetta 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.
Like the title of the ignition interlock device limited permit suggests, there are limitations on where you can drive while on the IID permit:
- Going to his or her place of employment or performing the normal duties of his or her occupation;
- Receiving scheduled medical case or obtaining prescription drugs;
- Driving to a college or school at which he or she is regularly enrolled as a student;
- Attending regularly scheduled sessions or meetings of treatment support organizations for persons who have addiction or abuse problems related to alcohol or other drugs, which organizations are recognized by the commissioner;
- Attending under court order any driver education or improvement school or alcohol or drug program or course approved by the court which entered the judgment of conviction resulting in suspension of his driver’s license or by the commissioner;
- Appearing in court, reporting to a community supervision, juvenile probation, or Article 6 of Chapter 8 of Title 42 probation office, reporting to a community supervision officer, county or Department of Juvenile Justice probation officer, or probation officer serving pursuant to Article 6 of Chapter 8 of Title 42, or performing community service;
- transporting an immediate family member who does not hold a valid driver’s license for work, to obtain medical care or prescriptions, or to school;
- Attending any program, event, treatment, or activity ordered by a judge presiding in an accountability court, as such term is defined in Code Section 15-1-18; or
- Going for monthly monitoring visits with the permit holder’s ignition interlock device service provider.
Contact us today to discuss your Alpharetta DUI case with our experienced DUI defense lawyers at 404.816.8777. Our dedicated Alpharetta 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.
So I decided to make a proper request for a hearing within 30 days of the date of my Alpharetta Driving Under the Influence arrest, what happens next?
The license suspension action is a civil action separate from your Alpharetta Driving Under the Influence 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 Alpharetta DUI 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 60 days from the date of your Alpharetta 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 DUI license suspension hearing is very limited:
At a hearing, the OSAH judge has a very limited role in deciding your Alpharetta DUI license suspension 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 Alpharetta 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
- Was the driver 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 Alpharetta DUI officer informed the person of the person’s Implied Consent rights and the consequences of submitting or refusing to submit to such test; and
- Did the driver refuse 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 in my Alpharetta DUI case?
The judge will enforce the Georgia Rules of Evidence and the Administrative Rules of Procedure, similar to other court proceedings. Because the burden is on the Alpharetta DUI officer to establish that the statutory factors were met, the Alpharetta DUI 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 Alpharetta DUI officer is then subject to cross-examination. There are times when our Alpharetta 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. The decision is also posted online. 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 Alpharetta Driving Under the Influence criminal case is being dismissed, but a license suspension hearing can be a great tool for our Alpharetta DUI lawyers to gain an advantage in your Alpharetta 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 Alpharetta DUI officer is so low to meet in these hearings, there is a good possibility that your license may be suspended, but our Alpharetta 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.
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 Driving Under the Influence charge in Alpharetta. There are simply too many variables that can impact your driving privileges to be discussed here without knowing the specific facts of your DUI case and your prior criminal history. Remember, you only have 30 days to request an administrative hearing through the Georgia Department of Driver Services.
Call our experienced Alpharetta DUI lawyers today:
If you are facing an Alpharetta DUI charge, a license suspension action, or have been ticketed for a serious traffic offense, call our experienced Alpharetta 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.