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2015 Update on Alpharetta DUI Charges


The City of Alpharetta is as tough as ever on DUI charges made within their city limits. In 2014, the Alpharetta Police Department made 529 DUI arrests, including DUI per se arrests, DUI less safe arrests, DUI drugs and marijuana, and Child Endangerment DUI. Alpharetta tops the list for DUI arrests in the North Metro area, with no other nearby city coming close.

This article is meant to provide you with what you MUST know before going to Alpharetta Municipal Court on a DUI charge. Of course, if you have questions after reading this information, or would simply rather call us to discuss your situation 1 on 1, we can be reached 24/7/365 at (770) 676-1340 or

First Steps after an Alpharetta DUI Arrest

After being arrested for DUI in Alpharetta, it is important to look at the paperwork you were given and make sure you at least have the basics. You should have

  1. A copy of any tickets or citations you were given with your charges (DUI, failure to maintain lane, speeding, etc.)
  2. A 1205 Form, which is a full-size sheet of paper detailing whether you tested over the legal limit, or refused testing under Georgia's Implied Consent law
  3. A copy of breath test results, if you took a breath test
  4. Towing paperwork
  5. Bonding paperwork

If you don't have all of these items, it is fine, but make sure you keep handy and make copies of what you did receive. Attorneys will want to see your citations and the 1205 form at a minimum.

After you have gotten your vehicle out of impound and made copies of your paperwork, its time to get attorney opinions about your case. We will speak to you on the phone any day of the week, and can usually meet you same-day. Alpharetta court dates are usually 2 or more months out from your arrest date, so your only real time crunch is on satisfying the 10 day deadline on your license appeal.

Can I Drive After Being Arrested?

After being arrested for DUI, you can drive. Typically, the cop who arrested you will take your actual driver's license and leave you with the 1205 form mentioned above, but you have your normal driving privileges immediately after arrest. The 1205 form should be kept on your or in your vehicle at all times while driving, and if you were to be pulled over, you should show it to the cop.

While you don't have your license on you, if you were to be pulled over, the cop's computer would show you as valid to drive. After 30 days, if you do not file an appeal of your license suspension, you are no longer able to drive. Of course, filing this appeal is essential and often the first thing we do. You have 10 business days to get the appeal off to DDS, though we usually recommend sending it ASAP. Why wait until you're running up on the deadline? DDS is unforgiving and will suspend your license if you miss the window to file your appeal. Additionally, there is no way to undo this suspension if you have missed it.

What I Should Ask at My Initial Consultation

At your initial consultation, there is information you must be given in order to make an informed decision on how to proceed with your defense. Some areas you want to make sure to think about and cover include:

  • Will anything on my record from the past affect this DUI case?
  • What are my main goals, or biggest fears about the case? (jail v license loss v stigma, etc)
  • Will this DUI end my school, job, or even career?
  • What happened on the day/night/week of my DUI arrest. (work and family circumstances, etc.)
  • What are required punishments on DUI in Georgia?
  • Can I do anything to help my case now?
  • Will the prosecutor even negotiate with my attorney about my case?
  • What are my options with a plea hearing or trial?
  • Will travel be affected by this DUI? (work, social, vacations, etc)
  • When exactly do I need to expect my driver's license could be affected?
  • Will I have to speak to the prosecutor, judge, or cop?
  • What is your plan for achieving my goals and how realistic are they?
  • What is your fee structure and will I be charged extra for hearings, trial, appeals, etc?

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of questions you should have answered, it is a good start. Our typical first consultation on a DUI case can last anywhere form 45 minutes to well over an hour, as there is a lot to cover and we want to make sure you understand where your case is heading. I would suggest you jot down the above questions and prioritize them to make sure you get the answers you need.

Alpharetta Municipal Court DUI Ticket v. Driver's License Hearing

The easiest way to think of how your DUI case will be handled is as two different cases. The first case deals with your driver's license, while the second case is the actual criminal DUI charges. Of course, the two cases are somewhat intertwined, but not as much as you might think.

Your driver's license case is initiated by filing your appeal letter with the Dept. of Driver Services after an arrest. This license hearing usually comes up 6-8 weeks later, and for Alpharetta DUIs, will be held at the Roswell City Hall Building in front of Administrative Law Judge Kennedy. At this hearing, the cop will appear and handle his own case dealing with your license. This hearing does not involve the Alpharetta prosecutor or judge at all.

Your DUI charges (the second case) will be handled by the Alpharetta Municipal Court and their Court Solicitor. The court date written on your citations and bonding paperwork informs you of your first court date in Alpharetta, which is where we deal with these charges. Before that first court date, our office sets up a 1 on 1 meeting with the court's prosecutor to discuss and negotiate your DUI case on your behalf. Depending on how long the evidence takes to get in, and when this meeting is scheduled, we may be able to work out a resolution to your case before your first court date, or may have to simply postpone your first court date in Alpharetta.

DUI Negotiations in Alpharetta

While every case is different, on a first DUI in Alpharetta, the goal is to prevent your DUI arrest from becoming a conviction for DUI. Through negotiations, we are able to resolve a majority of our cases without the cost and delay of transferring your case to the Fulton County Court. When negotiating in Alpharetta, we will build the best defense to your case possible in an effort to have the prosecutor to agree to allow you to plead to lesser charges. The most common of these lesser pleas in Georgia is to "reckless driving." Unlike a DUI conviction, a reckless driving does not suspend your license automatically and is not an alcohol-specific conviction. A reckless driving does carry 4 points in Georgia, compared to the 6 points a DUI carries.

During our initial consultation, I will give you some suggestions on what you can begin doing to help your DUI case. Being proactive pays off in Alpharetta.

DUI Tests Given by Alpharetta Cops

Most Alpharetta cops are trained to administer two different sets of tests in a DUI investigation: field sobriety tests and breath or blood tests. For clarification, if a blood test is performed, the cop will not actually be the one drawing your blood. They leave that up to a phlebotomist either at a hospital or sometimes fire station or even jail.

Field sobriety tests are all the tests you either took at the scene at your car, or declined to take. They include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (the eye test), the walk and turn, and the one leg stand test. As part of field sobriety, the cop may have also had you recite some form of the alphabet, count some sequence of numbers, or even blow into a small breath testing device. All of these field sobriety tests are voluntarily, though cops usually do their fair share of 'urging' you to perform them.

Under Georgia's implied consent law, once you are arrested for DUI, the cop will ask you to take a blood or breath test to get a true measurement of your blood alcohol level. If drug impairment is suspected, the cop should have asked for a blood test, since it's the only type of test that would reveal and quantify drugs in your system. In Georgia, the legal limit is .08 if you are 21 or older. Under 21, and this drops to a .02. In a commercial vehicle, you have a .04 legal limit, though most would hope no one is driving a commercial vehicle with any alcohol in their system.

Will My Lawyer Do All the Talking in Court?

Alpharetta Municipal Court is not like what you may be envisioning after watching your favorite prime-time courtroom drama show. The municipal court, like most, is conducted in an efficient and straightforward manner. Generally, we will speak to the prosecuting attorney to negotiate your case before we ever even attend court, so we can usually have a resolution worked out before actually going before the judge. Remember, Alpharetta does not do trials or other motion hearings on DUI cases, so we either go to the judge with a negotiated plea, or not. If we elect to transfer your case to Fulton County, we can often do this without you going to court just to have the case transferred. If you were just passing though or visiting Alpharetta for work and live out of state, we can usually keep you from having to fly back to attend your court dates. There are exceptions, but we will try to do as much without you coming as possible.

Alpharetta Municipal Court v. Fulton County

There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to close your case in Alpharetta Municipal Court or Fulton County. Quite simply, if you are not willing to accept the best plea deal negotiated in Alpharetta, you must be willing to transfer the case to Fulton County. Your case will be assigned a different judge and prosecutor, and the process will start over again. Remember, having a case heard in Fulton County can take anywhere from 12-24 months, with wait times usually being closer to 24 months currently. Our number one goal is to get the best result possible for our clients. Sometimes our advice will be to accept the negotiations in Alpharetta and sometimes we certainly advise clients on transferring their case to Fulton County. This is a decision we will walk you through on a case by case basis.

Cleaning My Record From Alpharetta DUI Arrest

Arrest and criminal records are a great source of confusion, as it is hard to find accurate information about what a DUI really does to your record. First, you have two main sources of records, your driving record and your GCIC (criminal) record. Only the final outcome will end up on your driving record in most cases. This means if we get your case lowered to a reckless driving, only the reckless driving will show on your driving record. A driving record is generally viewable for up to 7 years and insurance will certainly see the reckless driving next time they do a check.

Your GCIC (Georgia Crime Information Center) record is your criminal record. Whenever someone discusses a background check, they are usually referring to pulling this record. On your GCIC, your DUI will always show as a DUI arrest, however, the conviction will also show separately. So, if you get your case dropped to a reckless driving, your record will reflect this outcome, rather than a DUI conviction. The only way to have your DUI arrested sealed, expunged, or restricted from public view in Georgia is to have all of the charges dismissed or defeat all charges at trial. A reduction to reckless driving will not support a record restriction in Georgia.

Why Hire Zeliff and Watson for my DUI?

Both of our partners have years of experience in Alpharetta's court system. As former members of a large Atlanta DUI law firm, Mr. Watson and Mr. Zeliff have handled hundreds of DUI cases throughout North Atlanta and know the intricacies and inner workings of Alpharetta's court system. Our team also has the contacts needed to ensure you are smart about your defense from Day One. We will generally make recommendations on what the prosecutor likes to see done before court in order to help your case, and will send you to providers whose work has been accepted by the Alpharetta court system.

While many cases are resolved in Alpharetta, our team of attorneys will never browbeat or otherwise shame you into pleading to charges you should not plead to. Ask most attorneys what happens if you ask for a trial in Fulton County, and they will either talk on about how that would be silly, or quote you some astronomical fee for Fulton County in an effort to dissuade you from transferring your case. We will not treat you like that. We are on your team to get the best outcome while working together on your defense.

Call or email us 24/7/365 to discuss your case.

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