Georgia DUI laws are as convoluted as ever, but one thing is for sure: DUI enforcement is up and about any jurisdiction will tell you they are coming down tougher than ever on DUI offenders. As true DUI defense lawyers, our partners at Zeliff and Watson are in court on a daily basis keeping an eye on trends, courts' practices, and sentencing guidelines for DUI offenses. With right at 30 combined years of experience, Peter Zeliff and Evan Watson have the experience it takes to get you out of a DUI arrest with minimal lasting implications to your license, record and good name.
Here are some things we are keeping an eye on in 2018:
1. New(er) rules for DUI driver's license suspensions- Beginning July 1, 2017, the Dept. of Driver Services implemented a new option for 1st time DUI offenders. The change allows 1st DUI offenders to go have an ignition interlock device (blow before your car starts) installed on your vehicle rather than file an administrative appeal on new DUI arrests. We've whittled it down to being helpful only if: you refused testing and absolutely MUST drive (with restrictions) while your case is pending in court. The upside to this new permit- it does keep you driving, somewhat. The downside? You must have the ignition interlock device on your car for 12 months. No exceptions. Even if your DUI charge is ultimately dismissed or reduced to a lesser violation, the device is there to stay. This is a costly stigma.
What are we doing? Our attorneys have been taking advantage of the new, longer 30 day window to file an appeal or have an interlock installed and using this time to round up as much discovery (information) about your DUI arrest as possible. Reports, videos, and scientific evidence can sometime be obtained even before this 30 day deadline, at least helping us to make a more informed decision.
2. DUI Treatment Courts- "DUI Courts" and other accountability courts are wildly popular with judges and the system these days, and we expect to see more involvement than ever in 2018. DUI Court, for the record, has a key difference from most other courts like drug court, veterans court, and the like--- it does NOT result in a dismissal of your charges if you complete it successfully. Therefore, you plead guilty to enter DUI Court.
DUI Courts frequently change their "house" rules, and every jurisdiction sets their own standards to some extend, so talk to us about your specific venue. In Forsyth County, all multiple offenders are eligible for DUI Court, along with first offenders who test at a .18 or higher (*as of the time of this blog post). Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but you can rest assured our attorneys will keep an eye on trends and ensure our clients' right to trial is protected. To note, while municipal courts do not have DUI courts, you can sometimes have a case accepted by the county's DUI court- though that could only make sense in very limited circumstances. Wondering when? Talk to us.
3. Breath Tests, Blood Tests and the Like- We expect 2018 to bring more talk from law enforcement and prosecutors of doing away with reading folks their rights under Georgia's implied consent law and simply getting more warrants for blood tests in DUI cases. With some successful attacks in 2017 on the implied consent notice and breath testing in general, the other side is trying to figure out how to get around constitutional protections currently at play in DUI cases. Once arrested, the cop is supposed to read you an orange card that contains your implied consent warning on it. Essentially, you must take a test at the officer's discretion or you won't drive for a period of time. However, since courts must now look more into voluntariness more than ever before, and a breath test is now considered a compelled act, expect to see agencies coming up with a work around.
If you have been arrested for DUI recently, or maybe you even have an attorney that doesn't seem as up on the laws as they need to be, give us a call. We are here 24/7 to guide you in the right direction and discuss how we have the winning formula for your case. We strongly believe in a proactive approach by all parties, as we have seen great outcomes from this time and time again. We can be reached at (770) 676-1340 or by this contact form. And yes, either Peter or Evan will always get your inquiry and ring you back personally.