Things to Know if Arrested for DUI in Atlanta
Whether you live in Midtown, Buckhead or Cabbagetown, if you arrested for DUI in Atlanta, you should be aware of Atlanta drunk driving laws.
This article will explain to you the basics of Atlanta DUI laws. It will also tell you how to connect with Atlanta DUI attorneys who can help defend you in your case.
How Do You Get a DUI in Atlanta?
DUI stands for driving under the influence. This means that if you are caught operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be committing a DUI in Atlanta.
There are two ways to be charged with an Atlanta DUI.
The first is by blood-alcohol content, or BAC. BAC is the measure of alcohol in your bloodstream. In Atlanta, you will be charged with what is known as DUI per se if your BAC is .08 or higher. This means that your blood has an alcohol content of eight one-hundredths of a percent.
If your BAC is less than .08, you can still be charged with committing DUI in Atlanta. This violation is known as being a less safe driver. In this circumstance, the prosecution will have to make the case that despite being below the legal limit, you were still impaired. Usually, to convict you, the arresting officer will testify about any physical symptoms you exhibited or unsafe driving maneuvers at the time of arrest.
If you are under the age of 21, you can be convicted of DUI per se with a BAC of .02 or less. In addition, if you are operating a commercial vehicle, the legal BAC limit is .04.
The Atlanta DUI Process
An officer may stop your vehicle for a number of reasons. He can pull you over for a traffic violation, such as speeding. He can also pull you over at an official sobriety checkpoint. A sobriety checkpoint is a predetermined location where police officers pull over random drivers to check for DUI.
Finally, an officer may pull you over based on suspicious behavior. This includes weaving from one lane to another, stopping at a green light or taking unnecessarily wide turns.
After pulling over your vehicle, the officer may request you undergo a battery of field sobriety tests. These tests of basic motor skills are intended to determine whether you are impaired. Field sobriety tests include:
- Standing on one leg
- Walking a straight line and turning
- Following a light with your eyes without moving your head or neck
If you perform poorly, an officer will have probable cause to arrest you for DUI. He may then administer a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer test can determine your BAC based on your breath.
Refusal to take a breathalyzer test in Atlanta, or other form of BAC test, can result in automatic license suspension.
Punishments for DUI in Atlanta
Committing DUI in Atlanta is a serious offense.
Upon your first Atlanta DUI conviction, you may face anywhere from 10 days to one year in jail. Fines can range from $300 to $1,000. You may also have your license suspended for up to one year. You may also have to serve a minimum of 40 hours of community service.
A second DUI offense can land you anywhere from 90 days to one year in jail. Fines now range from $600 to $1,000. Your license may be suspended for three years. You may be forced to serve a minimum of 30 days of community service. You may also have go through a drug or alcohol treatment program. If necessary, the court will order an ignition interlock system to be installed on your car. This device forces you to pass a BAC test before your car will start.
A third DUI conviction is punishable by 120 days to one year in jail. Fines increase to $1,000 to $5,000. You may face license suspension of five years. You may face a minimum of 30 days of community service. You may also have to enter a treatment program.
A fourth DUI conviction in Atlanta is considered a felony. Under Atlanta DUI laws, you could face up to five years in jail and 60 days minimum of community service. Fines still range from $1,000 to $5,000.
Hiring an Atlanta DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested for committing DUI in Atlanta, you will want to hire an Atlanta DUI lawyer.
First, you will want to search for names of Atlanta DUI attorneys. If you are currently incarcerated or are unable to conduct a search on your own, find a trusted friend to assist you.
Consider asking friends and family members for referrals. Ask them if they have used an Atlanta DUI attorney before, and, if so, would they recommend him. You can also use a site like Attorneys.com. Just answer the Attorneys.com online questionnaire, and the site will connect you with one or more Atlanta-area DUI attorneys.
Next, set up initial consultations with the attorneys. These preliminary meetings are your chance to ask questions of the lawyer, get to know him better and decide whether you want to hire him to represent you in your case. Remember to bring pen and paper to take notes.
Questions to ask your prospective Atlanta DUI attorney include:
- How long has the attorney been working on DUI cases?
- Does he exclusively work on DUI cases? If not, how much of his work is devoted to DUI cases?
- Has he ever handled a case like yours?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of your case?
- What fee arrangement does he use? How much does he cost?
If you still are unsure of whom to hire, ask for references. Contact these past clients and ask them if they would recommend the attorney. After this, you should be able to make an informed hiring decision.