Marietta Office
231 Washington Avenue
Marietta, GA 30060
E -mail: info@thomasgrinerlaw.com Phone: 770-420-2004
Fax: 770-420-3020
Thomas E. Griner, an attorney with the proven legal experience to get the job done right - the first time.
Thomas E. Griner, LLC © 2009
Traffic Information

Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs(DUI)/Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
While some states differentiate between driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI), the state of Georgia generally does not. The same Georgia laws cover any situation. What would be different laws in other states are covered under the same laws in Georgia.

Administrative License Suspension
Under Georgia law, when a person is arrested for driving under the influence and either refuses to submit to a designated state administered chemical test or such a chemical test indicates an alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams or more, that person’s drivers license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle in the State of Georgia generally will be suspended.

To protect and preserve the person’s rights, a formal request for an administrative hearing concerning the driver’s license and/or privilege to drive in Georgia must be made within ten (10) business days of the arrest. Then, the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings will schedule a hearing to determine whether the arrestee’s license will be suspended.

What if I refused to take the DUI test?
Under Georgia law, a person can be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs even without a chemical test of the person’s blood, breath or urine. Even if an accused person refuses to submit to the officer’s request for a chemical test, the prosecuting attorney can still prove the offense by establishing that the person was “less safe” to drive than if the person had not consumed the alcohol or drug. Even an over-the-counter drug or a prescription drug can render a person “less safe” to drive under Georgia law.

Georgia law gives a person the right to refuse a blood, breath, or urine test, but there are consequences to choosing to refuse the state administered test in a DUI case. First of all, the accused person’s driver’s license will be suspended, unless properly challenged at an Administrative License Suspension (ALS) hearing. Secondly, the refusal to submit to a chemical test will be used against the person at trial. Thirdly, many prosecuting attorneys believe a “less safe” case can be an easier trial to conduct than a DUI case involving a chemical test. Usually, fewer witnesses are involved in a “refusal” case, which makes it easier for the prosecution to schedule the trial. A good DUI defense attorney will know how to properly fight either a refusal case or a case involving a chemical test.

Should I just plead guilty to my DUI charge?
The decision to plead guilty to any charge is one that should be very carefully considered and weighed against future hazards and pitfalls. In the past, a DUI was considered a “gentleman’s crime” and did not have the same significance as today. A DUI will raise car/truck/SUV insurance rates for many years. A DUI conviction (even a plea of “Nolo,” “Nolo Contendere,” or “No Contest”) will negatively affect many job applications and school or educational opportunities. Even professional or job related licenses such as those required for practicing law, medicine, dentistry, real estate, nursing, cosmetology, etc. can be affected.

Under Georgia law, an arresting officer has several requirements he or she must follow or else a DUI case should be dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. Many attorneys commit malpractice by not properly investigating or evaluating a DUI case. Pleading guilty to a DUI can be a gigantic mistake because some police officers do not follow the law in their investigation and handling of a DUI case. More than 90% of DUI cases should have a motion to suppress argued or considered, yet fewer than 50% of DUI cases are actually addressed in this manner. Many attorneys practicing DUI law cannot even tell their client the four main issues in a motion to suppress hearing. If the arresting officer fails to establish even one of the four main questions at the motion to suppress hearing, the state’s case against the accused will be severely damaged.

What if I was very intoxicated?
Even the most intoxicated driver on the road has rights and the police must follow the law. Every piece of evidence must be evaluated because of the strict compliance standards placed on police officers in evaluating a person suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Do not EVER plead guilty to a DUI charge without a thorough, proper evaluation by an experienced attorney.

Traffic Accident
If you receive a DUI charge and you were involved in a traffic accident, special care must be taken in resolving your case because of the risks of a civil lawsuit. DO NOT plead guilty to a DUI charge or make a statement to anyone (including an insurance claims adjuster) without first consulting an experienced attorney.

What is Reckless Driving?
For many attorneys, the goal in a DUI case is getting the DUI charge reduced to a charge of Reckless Driving. This is like hitting a home run in most circumstances. Whereas there are statutorily mandated requirements in a DUI case, such as minimum jail time, probation, fines, community service, etc., there are no such “statutory minimums” with a Reckless Driving charge. However, a person under 21 years of age will have his or her drivers license suspended for a Reckless Driving plea or conviction. Also, a person with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) will have his or her CDL suspended for a Reckless Driving plea or conviction.

What if the officer didn’t read me my rights?
There is a difference under Georgia law between the rights an officer has to read in a driving under the influence case and cases involving other charges. The rights an officer MUST read in a DUI case are called the “Implied Consent” rights. If the officer fails to read the Implied Consent Notice, the prosecution’s case is defective.

The “rights” most people associate with an arrest are those we hear on TV programs and movies. (“You have the right to remain silent…anything you say can be used against you. You have the right to an attorney, etc.) These are known as “Miranda” rights, and only apply to a “custodial interrogation.” If a person in “custody” is “interrogated,” any statement he or she makes can be admissible in court if he or she was given adequate warnings (the exact wording of the official Miranda warning does not have to be read) and the suspect validly waived his or her right to remain silent. If Miranda rights are applicable and there is a violation by the police, the usual result is the suppression of the in-custody statement and not a dismissal of the charges against the defendant.

Miranda rights CAN apply to a DUI case once a person is in “custody.” Being placed in custody does not necessarily mean being handcuffed or being put in the police car. Usually, DUI cases do not involve Miranda rights, but occasionally they do.

What if I am already on probation?
A person who is already on probation when he/she receives a new charge has a lot of factors to consider when deciding how to address the new charge. Pleading guilty or being found guilty of the new charge can enable the judge who put the person on probation to revoke that probation and send him/her to jail. You should always tell your attorney when you are on probation!

Any person facing a DUI/Traffic charge of any type should consult with an experienced attorney who is familiar with the court system where the charges are brought.