Forsyth County DUI Court Overview Written by Defense Lawyers
The Forsyth County DUI Court is marketed as a treatment-centered alternative to jail time for repeat DUI offenders. While DUI courts do not exist in every Georgia county, they are becoming more common, especially in Metro Atlanta areas. The Forsyth County DUI Court was founded in 2006 and is run by the collective efforts of the Forsyth County State Court, Forsyth County Solicitor's Office, probation, law enforcement, treatment provider representatives, DUI court staff, and a defense attorney who represents those involved in DUI Court.
Participation in DUI court requires a minimum of a two year probated sentence. The DUI Court has nothing to do with the merits of your pending DUI case. In order to be admitted into the court, you must enter a guilty plea to your underlying charges. Therefore, there is no added benefit of your DUI being dropped or dismissed, even upon successful completion of the program. (This is different from many other accountability courts- Drug Court, Veteran's Court, Mental Health Court, and the like, where your charges are dismissed upon successful completion.)
As of early 2017, at your first court date in Forsyth County State Court, you will be screened for DUI Court eligibility. If it is your first DUI, but you have a high blood alcohol content (.18 or greater), you will be deemed eligible. Additionally, if you have a second or subsequent DUI, you will be deemed eligible. You can expect to see two plea offers given out at this court date, one with DUI Court participation, and one without. On a second DUI, we are seeing 180 day jail offers being handed out if you choose not to participate in DUI Court.
Under Georgia law, a second DUI in five years can be punished with up to one year in jail. However, Georgia law only requires an absolute 72 hours in custody. Oftentimes, DUI Court participants enter the program when faced with more severe jail sentences, or when their most current DUI charges have violated some other probation sentence, or given rise to other legal problems. I do not advise anyone to participate in DUI Court unless their goal is to get rehabilitative help and you are willing to be monitored for 18-24 months.
The Forsyth DUI Court program is broken into four phases. The four phases all involve some level of treatment, court supervision, alcohol and drug screening, curfews, and monetary payments made to the court and treatment providers. In order to be eligible, there is a residence requirement (Forsyth County, or county with comparable DUI Court program), and a general requirement that you have no prior violent offenses on your record.
If you have been charged with a DUI in Forsyth County, and have prior DUI convictions on your record, call our office to discuss your options and your possible participation in DUI Court. Remember, participation in DUI Court does not have your current charges dropped or dismissed. Depending on your unique case facts, you may or may not be seen as a candidate for DUI court participation. All potential DUI Court participants must attend an orientation run by the DUI Court staff to determine eligibility for the program. If accepted, your attorney will negotiate your plea into DUI court with the Forsyth Solicitor's office. Call us at (770) 887-3720 for more information and for a no-cost case review.