If you have been charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) you may think there is no way to avoid a conviction. After all, the officer must have enough evidence or else he would not have arrested me, right? Wrong. John T. Martin, a Columbus GA DUI lawyer, says “A large number of drivers are able to challenge their arrest in court and get their charges reduced or even dismissed entirely.” So whats the key? These clients simply had the right legal strategy and the right attorney – the two most important keys to fighting a DUI.
History proves that drivers who obtain legal counsel often achieve much better results in court than those who forego representation. Lawyers who maintain a local practice may have a vastly better work and personal relationship with court personnel which can often be a key to their high rate of success in dealing with these very serious charges. According to estimates, the average DUI conviction cost $10,000 to $25,000 – and that does not include any time away from work, medical expenses and/or vehicular damage. As a result, it can often be a money saver to hire a competent local DUI attorney.
A DUI charge can carry both administrative and criminal penalties
Administrative Penalties – a DUI in Georgia can result in an almost immediate suspension of your right to drive in the state, and, if you’re a Georgia licensee, your right to drive anywhere. Officers often give the arrestee a DPS form 1205 telling them that it will allow the person to drive for thirty days or until court. This so called “temporary driving permit” is actually notice of the intent to suspend your license and refers you to the back of the form for hearing and appeal procedures. You only have TEN (10) BUSINESS DAYS to appeal the suspension of your license and keep your license active. If you do not appeal with the ten days or receive an extension on filing an appeal your license will be suspended for 12 months beginning thirty days after your arrest. This suspension will likely not be overturned by the outcome of your criminal case, so you need to preserve your rights and seek legal counsel immediately after being arrested for a DUI offense.
Criminal penalties – See O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391 (2010)
Every person convicted of violating this Code section shall, upon a first, second or third conviction thereof, be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon a fourth or subsequent conviction thereof, be guilty of a felony. Georgia law has mandatory sentencing provisions that include fines ranging from $300 to $5,000, jail time, community service, alcohol treatment and 12 months probation.
Finally, long after your legal and court expenses are paid, a DUI conviction can continue to wreck havoc on your finances. Once your insurance provider finds out you were guilty of drunk driving, you can expect to pay two to three times more for auto insurance – facing up to a 450% increase for coverage. Some companies may even refuse to insure you altogether. Fortunately, being arrested for DUI is not the same as being convicted, and many drivers are able to successfully challenge their charges and avoid many or all of the costs that follow a drunk driving conviction. To learn how you can do the same, please contact our law firm for an appointment with an experienced DUI defense attorney.