How a DUI Case Proceeds through the Atlanta Court System

Posted by Richard Lawson | May 08, 2020 | 0 Comments

Atanta Police Car

Several police agencies in Atlanta routinely make DUI arrests.  The City of Atlanta has its own police department and has several officers with specialized DUI training patrolling popular bars and events in the city for signs of drunk drivers.  In addition, the Georgia State Patrol has a squad of DUI enforcement officers that regularly patrol for DUI.  The State Patrol calls their DUI enforcement unit, “The Nighthawks.” That being said, any certified law enforcement officer in Georgia is capable of making a DUI arrest.  When you are charged with an Atlanta DUI, the case typically begins in the City of Atlanta Municipal Court located downtown on Garnett Street.  The initial court date is most often at 8 am on the next business day following your arrest.  So if you arrested Saturday night, you would have court Monday morning.  The City of Atlanta Municipal Court is notorious for having a lot of status court dates when nothing of substance really happens in your case.  If you contact an experienced Atlanta DUI lawyer, we can make the initial appearance and many of the intermediate appearances on your behalf.  This allows you to get back to work while we focus on obtaining the evidence and building your defense.

The first step following an Atlanta DUI arrest is for the filing of an appeal to stop an automatic license suspension.  This allows you to continue driving but means there will be a license suspension hearing at a later date.  In the alternative, you can also have an ignition interlock device installed in some situations and receive a driving permit.  There are pros and cons to both approaches, and the decision needs to be made in less than 30 days following your arrest. That is why contacting an Atlanta DUI attorney as soon as practicable is advised. If 30 days pass and you do not properly file an appeal or have an interlock installed, you risk being suspended without any ability to get a permit for a year or possibly longer.

The evidence in a DUI case in Atlanta generally consists of the arresting officer's police report, test results, and arrest video.  Many Atlanta DUI lawyers believe that the video is the most critical component because it can show what actually happened.  Generally, police reports only mention the damaging facts and are tainted by an officer's confirmation bias.  Officers are often looking to make a DUI arrest, so they are assuming your driving infraction is because you are drunk or high, not because you are tired, sick, lost, etc.  Police narratives tend only to mention what is observed by that officer that is consistent with DUI.  The video can show that your speech is actually normal, that you asked coherent and intelligent questions, and that your fine motor skills appear to be intact. 

Once the evidence is received and reviewed, our skilled Atlanta DUI Attorneys will try to negotiate the charge from DUI to a lesser offense.  If a plea offer is made and it is satisfactory to you, the case could be resolved in the City of Atlanta Traffic Court.  Currently, Judge Gundy and Judge Sloane are the presiding judges for DUI cases in Atlanta, and generally, they will accept a negotiated plea to a lesser offense such as reckless driving if the prosecution agrees.  However, some DUI cases cannot be worked out.  If that is the situation, the case is transferred to Fulton County State Court.

In Fulton County, a new prosecutor is assigned, so there is a second opportunity to reach a resolution.  If a plea bargain still cannot be reached, the option to fight the case (with a jury trial) is always available.  We are prepared to fight and win cases for you.  Some lawyers routinely persuade their clients to accept plea bargains when a better outcome could be had by litigating the case.  We will get you the best results available on your particular set of facts. Contact our Atlanta DUI Defense Attorneys 24/7 to see how we can assist you.  DUI charges can seem overwhelming, but they don't have to be when you have strong legal counsel on your side. 

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Richard S. Lawson is passionate about intoxicated driving defense. Unlike some attorneys, Mr. Lawson devotes 100% of his legal practice to helping people stand up for their rights against DUI charges. For more than 20 years, Mr. Lawson has dutifully fought for his clients' freedom, resolving more 4,900 impaired driving cases during the course of his career. Today, Mr. Lawson has developed a reputation as a skilled negotiator and continues to help clients by fighting to keep them out of jail.


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