Atlanta DUI Attorney
Atlanta DUI Attorney
Choosing an Atlanta DUI attorney can be an overwhelming and extremely risky task, particularly if you are relying solely upon the internet to make your decision. In evaluating various lawyers, considering some of these factors can be helpful:
- Is the lawyer Board Certified in DUI Defense? – Ben Sessions is 1 of 4 Board Certified DUI Defense Attorneys in the State of Georgia.
- Has the lawyer been recognized as a SuperLawyer? – Ben Sessions has been consistently recognized as a SuperLawyer since 2015, and since 2019, he has been continuously recognized as a Top 100 SuperLawyer.
- When was the last time that the lawyer actually tried a case? – During the COVID pandemic, we tried more cases than most lawyers tried in regular years. In 2021, we had 3 jury trials and 2 oral arguments before the Georgia Supreme Court. This is far less than our customary trial numbers.
- How active is his/her trial practice? – We have far more trials than most other DUI attorneys and that results in better negotiating leverage for our future clients.
- Is the lawyer willing to meet with you in person to help you make decisions? – We are always available to meet with you by Zoom or in person to discuss your DUI.
Our commitment to our clients has been recognized through numerous accolades including:
- 1 of 4 Board-Certified DUI Defense Attorneys in Georgia
- Selection to Georgia’s Super Lawyers® Top 100 – 2022
- Selection to Georgia’s Super Lawyers® Top 100 – 2021
- Selection to Georgia’s Super Lawyers® Top 100 – 2020
- Selection to Georgia’s Super Lawyers® Top 100 – 2019
- Inclusion in Georgia Trend’s Legal Elite
- Selection to Georgia’s Super Lawyers® – 2018
- Selection to Georgia’s Super Lawyers® – 2017
- Selection to Georgia’s Super Lawyers® – 2016
- Selection to Georgia’s Super Lawyers® – 2015
- AVVO – Superb (10.0) Rating
What You Need to Know About Your Atlanta DUI Charge
There are a few things that you absolutely must know about your Atlanta DUI charge, and there are some really common mistakes that lawyers handling Atlanta DUI charges commonly make. One of the decisions that defendants (and lawyers) really do not understand is when and under what circumstances cases should be bound over (transferred) to the Fulton County State Court. Here, we will address some of those concerns.
- Treat the Atlanta Municipal Court as an opportunity. It should be viewed as an opportunity to successfully resolve the DUI charge or an opportunity to set up procedural defenses in Fulton County State Court. There was a time when lawyers were binding cases over from the Atlanta Municipal Court without even conducting any review of the evidence or knowing anything about the case. This should never occur. Every person charged with a DUI that is pending in the Atlanta Municipal Court has the right to transfer the case out of the Atlanta Municipal Court to the Fulton County State Court, but this decision has to be made with a full consideration of the potential risks of such a decision.
- Deals do not always get better in the Fulton County State Court. Many lawyers mistakenly believe that the resolution of a case will always be better in Fulton County State Court. That could be a huge mistake. Yes, some offers on 1st lifetime DUI charges and reckless driving offers will be better, but there is always some risk in rejecting a reckless driving reduction with the hope that the offer will improve in Fulton County State Court. I have had cases where a client rejected a reckless driving offer in Atlanta Municipal Court, and the prosecutor’s office in Fulton County State Court decided not to offer a reckless driving reduction of the DUI. Those cases ultimately ended in a jury trial.
- Make the State bind the case over to Fulton County State Court and use that decision to your advantage. Frequently, I will ask for a bench trial in Atlanta when I have a case that will be difficult for the City to put together or a case a with difficult legal hurdles for the state. Often times, the City will ask that the case be bound over to the Fulton County State Court prior to trial. It is imperative that your lawyer make a record of the prejudice that you and your defense will suffer if a trial in your case is delayed. Set the case up for a motion to dismiss on constitutional speedy grounds when the Fulton County Solicitor’s office files on an accusation on the DUI charge approximately 14 – 18 months later. Obviously, this strategy relies upon a couple of assumptions and your lawyer must understand what types of DUI cases the City prosecutors will seek to bind over to the State Court.
- Unless the case is truly exceptional (exceptionally high BAC of .20 or greater, a really bad accident, other aggravating non-DUI history, extremely bad behavior on behalf of the defendant, etc.), a 1st lifetime DUI charge should generally not be resolved with a guilty plea to DUI involving any jail time in Atlanta Municipal Court.
- Unless the case is truly exceptional (exceptionally high BAC of .20 or greater, a really bad accident, other aggravating non-DUI history, extremely bad behavior on behalf of the defendant, etc.), a guilty plea to DUI is generally not advisable if it involves anything in excess of statutory mandated penalties in Atlanta Municipal Court.
- If you are facing a 2nd or more charge of DUI in the Atlanta Municipal Court, the City prosecutor will likely ask that your case be transferred to the Fulton County State Court. The City solicitor’s office has jurisdiction to prosecute 2nd or even 3rd DUI charges within 10 years but for some reason, they tend bind these cases over to the Fulton County State Court for prosecution.
- If your case is transferred from the Atlanta Municipal Court to the Fulton County State Court and you anticipate that your case could go to trial, begin working to complete a substance abuse evaluation, Risk Reduction program, and community service if you have not done so already.
- There will be a protracted delay in the initiation of a prosecution in the Fulton County State Court. You cannot rush that process. Plan for it as your DUI is bound over from Atlanta Municipal Court.
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE TO APPEAR WITHOUT A LAWYER FOR MY 1ST APPEARANCE ON A DUI IN ATLANTA MUNICIPAL COURT?
It is not at all uncommon for people to appear at their 1st appearance on a DUI in Atlanta Municipal Court without an attorney. Do not be discouraged, overwhelmed, or afraid if you are in this situation. Understanding a few basic rules about the process followed in that court can make your appearance go very smoothly. Below are some of the basic rules that you must know when you appear in the Atlanta Municipal Court.
WHY IS THE 1ST COURT DATE ON YOUR ATLANTA DUI SO SOON AFTER YOUR ARREST?
The Atlanta Municipal Court is really focused on efficiently resolving cases. Most people recognize that part of efficiently resolving cases is getting people to court, informing them of the process, and getting the process going. So, the Court generally gets people arrested for DUI to court the next business day. That is extremely quick in comparison to many other courts that handle DUIs. This short timeline, however, means that many people cannot obtain counsel prior to their 1st appearance. Do not worry about that. I can assure you that nothing substantive is going to happen at that appearance, unless you want to enter a guilty plea at the 1st appearance. Generally, you should not enter a guilty plea at the 1st appearance.
THE JUDGE IS GOING TO ASK YOU IF YOU WAIVE FORMAL ARRAIGNMENT. THIS IS NOT A TRICK.
Many people are really confused by the question from the Judge about whether they waive formal arraignment upon their charges. Do not over think this question. It is not a trick question. Whether you waive formal arraignment or not, that decision is not going to have any real impact upon your rights and the charges whatsoever. Most lawyers that regularly appear in the Atlanta Municipal Court for DUI charges recognize that little information, if any at all, is gained by virtue of the formal arraignment process in that court, and no strategic advantage is gained by being formally arraigned upon the charges. When you are asked if you waive formal arraignment, I would generally recommend that you respond say “yes, Your Honor” and move the process along.
IS THERE A WAY THAT I CAN BE EXCUSED FROM APPEARING FOR MY 1ST APPEARANCE IN MY DUI CASE IN ATLANTA?
Yes, you may be excused from your 1st appearance in a DUI case if you have retained a lawyer and that lawyer has filed an entry of appearance.
MUST I APPEAR AT 8:00 A.M. ON MY CASE?
If you do not have a lawyer, you must arrive at the scheduled time for the 1st appearance on your Atlanta DUI case. Some courts do not start on the scheduled court time, but this is not one of them. Appear at 8:00 a.m.
WHAT IS THE “INQUIRY” COURT DATE THAT THE COURT REFERENCED AT MY 1ST APPEARANCE FOR MY DUI CASE?
The inquiry court date scheduled by the Atlanta DUI court at your 1st appearance is a status hearing. At it, the Court is really just looking to see if the City prosecutor has provided discovery to you and also conveyed an offer to the defendant to resolve the case.
EXPECT MORE CHANGES IN THE ATLANTA DUI COURT. IS YOUR DUI LAWYER PREPARED?
In the coming months, we can expect substantial changes to the process by which DUI cases are handled in the City of Atlanta DUI Court. It is predicted that there will be a shake-up in the way that new cases are divided are assigned to courtrooms, the time schedule for cases being prosecuted in the City of Atlanta Municipal Court, and the manner in which cases proceed to trial.
As with most changes, some people benefit and some people are simply “run over” by the changes. If you face a DUI charge in the Atlanta Municipal Court, ensure that your prospective lawyer understands that changes are occurring in that Court and try to assess whether he/she has a plan together that will allow them to capitalize upon any systemic issues that may arise as a result of the new rules changes.
Local Atlanta DUI Attorney Expertise And Nationally Recognized Authority on DUI Defense
We bring local knowledge and nationally-recognized expertise to every Atlanta DUI case that we take on. No lawyer knows the process by which Atlanta DUI cases are prosecuted better than the DUI defense attorneys at The Sessions Law Firm. Likewise, very few attorneys (in fact, only 5 within the State of Georgia) can claim to be Board Certified in DUI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense (the only organization sanctioned by the American Bar Association to issue Board Certification recognition in the area of DUI defense). You undoubtedly want a lawyer that understands both the process and the very best defenses available in your case, and The Sessions Law Firm provides both at an exceptionally high level.
Most Atlanta drivers are familiar with the phrase “driving under the influence.” New drivers are taught about the dangers of driving under the influence, and some have seen these risks firsthand. The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reported that in 2012 alone, 277 driving fatalities were related to alcohol. Impaired drivers pose a risk to local communities, which is why state law treats this offense so harshly. Strict state DUI laws impose tough penalties of convicted offenders, even for their first conviction. If you are facing a DUI charge, read the important information below to learn more about this type of criminal case.
HAVING A TRULY QUALIFIED ATLANTA DUI DEFENSE ATTORNEY CAN MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE IN THE OUTCOME
All too often, lawyers dabble in defending DUI cases. They don’t really understand what is going in the Court or in the evidence in the DUI cases. They let the State dictate the flow of the case. In short, they simply react to the State’s prosecution. The State has the burden of proof, and experienced Atlanta DUI attorneys recognize the value in making the State do its job. However, in the vast majority of cases, your Atlanta DUI lawyer must understand the intricacies of the court in which your case is pending and the unique procedural and evidentiary issues in Georgia DUI cases if you hope to obtain an exceptional result. Don’t take your chances with a lawyer that dabbles in the defense of DUI cases.
Your Atlanta DUI attorney at The Sessions Law Firm understand how to effectively mount procedural and evidentiary challenges to the State’s case against you. Ben Sessions of The Sessions Law Firm is 1 of 4 attorneys in Georgia to be Board Certified in DUI Defense. Our Firm remains on the forefront of DUI litigation in Atlanta and throughout Georgia.
What is a DUI defined as in Georgia?
Georgia law defines DUI, or driving under the influence, as being in control of a moving vehicle while:
- Under the influence of drugs (prescription or illegal) or alcohol, and that influence creates a driving safety risk
- Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of at least 0.08% or
- Driving with an illegal controlled substance in your body system
Often, DUI charges are related to impairment by alcohol, which is often referred to as “drunk driving.” A driver must be legally drunk, with a BAC of at least 0.08%, to be charged with a DUI related to alcohol. There are some exceptions to this rule, however. A minor driver (under the age of 21) can be charged if he or she has a BAC of as little as 0.02%. A commercial driver could face a DUI while driving with a BAC of 0.04%. As mentioned above, drivers under the influence of drugs can also face this criminal charge.
Penalties for DUI Conviction in Georgia
The exact penalties for DUI depend on the number of prior convictions, if any, the driver has, as well as any other relevant circumstances in the case. Generally, state law allows for the following DUI punishments upon conviction.
- First offense: misdemeanor; penalties may include jail time between 10 days and 12 months, fines between $300 to $1,000, community service, and alcohol counseling.
- Second offense: misdemeanor; penalties may include jail time between 90 days and 12 months, fines between $600 and $1,000, at least 30 days of community service, alcohol counseling, and 12 months probation.
- Third offense: high and aggravated misdemeanor; mandatory minimum jail sentence between 120 days and 12 months; other penalties may include fines between $1,000 and $5,000, at least 30 days of community service, alcohol counseling, and 12 months probation.
Understanding the Driver’s License Consequences of Refusing Testing in Your Atlanta DUI Case
It is crucial to understand the distinction between the administrative license suspension case and the criminal case pending in the Atlanta Municipal Court, but it is also important to recognize the interplay between the two processes.
Other Consequences of A Georgia DUI Conviction
For most of our clients, the criminal consequences of a DUI conviction are only part of their concern. Often times, the “collateral” consequences of a DUI conviction are more significant than the mandatory requirements of the law. Among the penalties that must be considered during the course of representation for a pending DUI in Georgia are:
- the impact upon the driver’s license for both Georgia licensees and out-of-state licensees
- the impact upon employment, and
- the impact upon professional licenses.
Are You Looking for An Atlanta DUI Attorney that Understands the Complexities of How a DUI Charge May Impact a Professional License?
Our DUI attorneys have successfully defended doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, and pilots charged with DUI. If you are facing an Atlanta DUI charge and you hold a professional license, it is vitally important that you understand how the licensing authority will treat a DUI conviction. It is also crucial that you act proactively to preempt the punishment that may be impose in the event that you are convicted of DUI.
If you are seeking the services of an Atlanta DUI attorney that understands how sensitive various professional licenses may be to a DUI charge or conviction, The Sessions Law Firm can help you.
The Atlanta DUI Court Process and What Your Atlanta DUI Attorney must Know
Not knowing the process followed in the Atlanta DUI court can lead to a lot of wasted time, and it can cause you a lot of stress in the Atlanta Municipal Court. The Atlanta Municipal Court has a standardized process for addressing DUI cases. The process is efficient, and cases move a long at an appropriate pace. Unfortunately, many lawyers do not take the time to learn the process, so here are the basics:
- With the filing of an entry of appearance by an attorney, a defendant is excused from appearing all court dates except for the Final Plea.
- You must appear on the Final Plea date.
- Expect your case to be completed in the Atlanta Municipal Court within 6 months from the date of arrest.
About the Atlanta DUI Court
If a DUI arrest occurs within the city limits of Atlanta, the case will generally begin prosecution in the City of Atlanta Municipal Court. In the Atlanta Municipal Court, DUI cases are presided over by the Honorable Christoper E. Ward, who is the Chief Judge of the Atlanta Municipal Court.
The City of Atlanta Municipal Court has a well-defined process for the handling of DUI cases:
- Arraignments – Generally, arraignments are scheduled within 1 – 2 business days from arrest in DUI cases. If an attorney files an entry of appearance, the Defendant is excused from appearing.
- Inquiry Court Dates – Generally, inquiry court dates are scheduled 45 – 60 days after the arraignment date. At the inquiry court date, the Court inquires of the City and the Defendant whether the discovery process has been completed.
- Final Plea Date – Generally, the final plea date is scheduled 3 – 4 months following the arraignment. The final plea is a date on which a plea is entered, the case is scheduled for a bench trial, or the case is bound over to the Fulton County State Court for a jury trial. Below is the National Center for State Courts guidelines on the timelines for the resolution of misdemeanor cases. This is the guideline that is followed in the Atlanta Municipal Court.
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE TO APPEAR WITHOUT A LAWYER FOR MY 1ST APPEARANCE ON A DUI IN ATLANTA MUNICIPAL COURT?
It is not at all uncommon for people to appear at their 1st appearance on a DUI in Atlanta Municipal Court without an attorney. Do not be discouraged, overwhelmed, or afraid if you are in this situation. Understanding a few basic rules about the process followed in that court can make your appearance go very smoothly.
WHY IS THE 1ST COURT DATE ON YOUR ATLANTA DUI SO SOON AFTER YOUR ARREST?
The Atlanta Municipal Court is really focused on efficiently resolving cases. Most people recognize that part of efficiently resolving cases is getting people to court, informing them of the process, and getting the process going. So, the Court generally gets people arrested for DUI to court the next business day. That is extremely quick in comparison to many other courts that handle DUIs. This short timeline, however, means that many people cannot obtain counsel prior to their 1st appearance. Do not worry about that. I can assure you that nothing substantive is going to happen at your 1st appearance in the Atlanta Municipal Court.
WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT DEADLINES AFTER THE 1ST APPEARANCE FOR YOUR DUI IN THE ATLANTA MUNICIPAL COURT?
- You must file your 10-day letter (the ALS appeal letter) within 10 business days from your date of arrest.
- You need to be working to retain a qualified DUI attorney soon after your 1st appearance in the Atlanta Municipal Court. He/she must get the process going for obtaining discovery in your case.
- How do I get my license back after my administrative license suspension case is dismissed?
- What happens if I don’t want to agree to the plea offer made by the City of Atlanta Solicitor’s Office in the Atlanta Municipal Court? – You have the right to request a bench trial or a jury trial upon your case.
- If I go to trial on my DUI case and lose, will I receive a greater penalty? – Maybe. This is a question that really requires an analysis of the particular facts of your case, including your prior history, mitigation efforts, and understanding the Judge presiding over your case. Let’s discuss this in more detail.
The Court makes every effort to have all proceedings in the Atlanta Municipal Court concluded within 6 months from the date of arrest.
Atlanta DUI Arraignment
If you have an Atlanta DUI pending, DUI arraignment dates are probably a tremendous source of confusion for you. Most DUI cases pending in the City of Atlanta Municipal Court have multiple arraignment dates, and the arraignment date in the Atlanta Municipal Court is not used in the same manner as it is in many other courts. Arraignment dates in the Atlanta Municipal are dates on which pleas of not guilty or guilty may be entered, but those dates also present opportunities to “pre-try” DUI cases. When your lawyer “pre-tries” the case, they discuss with the City Solicitor (the prosecutor) what should happen with the case. Every case is discussed so that the case can (hopefully) be resolved prior to a trial.
The First Court Date For an Atlanta DUI Charge
THE CURRENT PROCESS FOR HANDLING DUI CHARGES IN THE CITY OF ATLANTA MUNICIPAL COURT
At the beginning of 2013, there was a dramatic change in the way that DUI charges are processed in the City of Atlanta Municipal Court. Basically, the changes made the process more predictable and formalized. Predictability is certainly a trait that most people charged with a DUI really want. That being said, when Courts are more systematic in the process by which any criminal charges are processed, there tends to be less “slippage” – less charges tend to be thrown by the wayside, as a general rule.
Basically, the Atlanta Municipal Court has adopted the recommendation of the DUI Court Committee and instituted a goal for the disposition of ever case within 6 months from the date of arrest. The 1st appearance in the City of Atlanta Municipal Court is generally within 48-72 hours after the date of arrest. After the 1st court appearance in the Atlanta Municipal Court, each case is placed on an “inquiry” court date. After the “inquiry” date, the case is placed on a final plea date – which is typically 60 days after the date of arrest.
There has been a great deal of confusion and misinformation regarding what occurs on the “final plea date” and whether defendants are being forced to plea or bind their cases over prior to the completion of discovery. This is emphatically not the case in the Atlanta Municipal Court. The Court has been very flexible in permitting resets of cases beyond the “final plea date” when discovery has not been completed.
WHAT YOU WILL ACTUALLY DO AT YOUR 1ST APPEARANCE ON YOUR DUI CASE IN ATLANTA MUNICIPAL COURT
The first court date in Atlanta on your DUI charge is very simple and straightforward. Unlike many courts, the arraignment date is an actual arraignment. You will have the option of having the prosecutor read the actual charges pending against you out loud to you. (Yes, that is a bit unusual, but I digress.) The Judge will ask you if you understand the charges, and depending upon how you answer, that will be it. Your case will be reset for an “inquiry” date and you’ll be excused. The Court does not ask you how you are pleading at that time.
Should You Consider a Bench Trial for Your Atlanta DUI Case?
Absolutely, you should consider whether a bench trial in your Atlanta DUI is a potentially advantageous course of action.
An Atlanta DUI Attorney that You Can Rely upon To Deliver the Best Possible Results.
Atlanta DUI lawyer Ben Sessions arguing before the Georgia Supreme Court Ben Sessions of The Sessions Law Firm has developed a reputation in Atlanta and throughout Georgia for being a go-to lawyer for complex and serious alcohol- and drug-related cases. Lawyers that need some expertise in developing defenses to difficult DUI, serious injury by vehicle, and vehicular homicide cases, routinely rely upon Ben Sessions. If you need an Atlanta DUI lawyer, call Ben today for a consultation.
An Atlanta DUI Lawyer with True Local Presence, Connections, and Understanding of These Cases.
Knowing the courts and processes by which a DUI case will be prosecuted is crucial to a successful defense. You will not find an Atlanta DUI lawyer that knows ins and outs of the court in and around Atlanta, GA, better than Ben Sessions of The Sessions Law Firm, LLC.
Be Wary of Connections as The Way of Choosing an Atlanta DUI Lawyer
Video: “Be Wary of Connections As The Way of Choosing a DUI Lawyer”
When you’re trying to select a DUI attorney in your case, one of the things that you really need to be cautious of, is a lawyer who says that they have a local connection or a local friendship, and that will be the basis for favorably resolving your case. Instead of looking for that type of connection, what you should look for is a lawyer that has knowledge of the local processes and the process by which your case will be prosecuted there in that courthouse, and also has certain external validations of their experience. Number one: Has the lawyer actually tried cases in the last year? Number two: Has the lawyer actually tried cases in that courthouse? Do they understand how it is that the prosecutors in that courthouse work and the process by which your case is actually gonna follow? Number three: Has the lawyer actually received any sort of external validation that cannot be bought with their own paycheck? That is, is the lawyer board-certified, or is the lawyer been recognized as a Super Lawyer here in this state? What you should do is look for these types of indicators, rather than relying upon a lawyer’s relationship. That’s a much more reliable predictor of whether or not the lawyer can get the job done in your case. If you have a question about your DUI case, feel free to contact me. My name is Ben Sessions. My office number’s 470-225-7710. Again, 470-225-7710. Thank you.
Ben Sessions has successfully defended DUI charges in every court in metro-Atlanta. He has tried DUI jury trials before each of the Judges of the Fulton County State Court. There are other lawyers that have appeared and helped clients plead guilty to DUI charges in each of the courts, but there are very few attorneys that have successfully defended cases in each of the courts in metro-Atlanta.
Ben Sessions is in the courts of Atlanta and Fulton County on an almost daily basis. He served on the City of Atlanta Municipal Court’s DUI court planning committee.
How Much Does a DUI Attorney Cost in Atlanta, GA?
As expected, one of the 1st things that prospective clients ask is: how much does a DUI attorney cost in Atlanta? This is a completely legitimate question. Prices for DUI attorneys are all over the map. And the predictable answer to this question is: it depends on whether the lawyer is good and experienced.
ARE THERE RULES THAT GOVERN THE AMOUNT OF A FEE THAT A LAWYER MAY CHARGE IN YOUR DUI CASE?
Of course, there is. Rule 1.5 of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct establishes the standard for setting fees.
Unfortunately, Rule 1.5 doesn’t really tell you anything about what a DUI in Atlanta should cost. That’s right, the rule simply requires the attorney fee to be “reasonable”. The rule does give us a little guidance about some of the factors that can impact the attorney fee:
- the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
- the likelihood that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
- the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
- the amount involved and the results obtained;
- the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
- the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
- the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and
- whether the fee is fixed or contingent.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO BE REALLY AWARE IN CONSIDERING FEES OF VARIOUS DUI ATTORNEYS IN ATLANTA?
Most of my clients are really intelligent and savvy, but if you’re not wise to the game that is lawyer fees, you need to talk with someone who knows before you negotiate a fee.
You absolutely must know how the fee structure incentivizes (or creates disincentives) for your attorney. You also must be able to appreciate what the fee agreement says about the work that the lawyer does (and does not) want to do.
Our Rule 1.5 requires that the lawyer define the scope of the representation and the basis or rate of the fee and expenses for which the client will be responsible. Rule 1.5 does not require a written fee agreement. Do not hire a lawyer that does not provide a written fee agreement.
WHY CAN’T I AGREE TO PAY THE LAWYER A GREATER AMOUNT IF HE/SHE DELIVERS A BETTER RESULT IN MY DUI CASE?
The answer is: Because I worked really hard to obtain my State Bar license and it is really important to my family’s future, I’m not willing to violate the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct by engaging in a contingency fee arrangement in a criminal/DUI case.
Contingent fee agreements allow the lawyer to be paid (or paid more) after getting a favorable result. You should not have any lawyer propose a contingent arrangement in a DUI case.
Rule 1.5 provides, in relevant part, that:
A lawyer shall not enter into an arrangement for, charge, or collect:
any fee in a domestic relations matter, the payment or amount of which is contingent upon the securing of a divorce or upon the amount of alimony or support, or property settlement in lieu thereof; or
a contingent fee for representing a defendant in a criminal case.
A division of a fee between lawyers who are not in the same firm may be made only if:
the division is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer or, by written agreement with the client, each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation;
the client is advised of the share that each lawyer is to receive and does not object to the participation of all the lawyers involved; and
the total fee is reasonable.
WHY ARE YOUR FEES HIGHER THAN MOST OTHER LAWYERS HANDLING DUI CASES IN ATLANTA?
There are a couple of reasons:
- 1. We consistently deliver exceptional results in very difficult cases that many lawyers won’t even think about challenging.
- 2. I am 1 of 4 Board Certified DUI Attorneys in the State of Georgia. Of all the lawyers that you see advertising on Google, you will only see 4 other attorneys that can claim Board Certification status in Georgia.
- 3. We understand the value that our clients gain from the cutting-edge litigation work we do. For example, we’ve been out in front of source code and voluntariness challenges to chemical testing, and our clients have benefitted. Greatly.
If you are looking for an exceptionally qualified and experienced Atlanta DUI attorney, call us today for free consultation.
Atlanta Dui Lawyer Ben Sessions Is 1 of 4 Board-Certified DUI Lawyers in Georgia
If you interview lawyers regarding your Atlanta DUI arrest, you will hear all different types of sales pitches and all different fee ranges. Some will seem to be too good to be true, and – truth be told – at the end of the case, those stories will probably not resemble the lawyer’s performance and the fee that seemed very cheap will be very costly to you in the long-term.
Ben Sessions has developed a reputation as a go-to lawyer in cases involving difficult and complex issues. He is a frequent lecturer in Georgia and nationally, and he also serves as a State Delegate for the National College of DUI Defense.
If the defense of your DUI case really matters to you, call The Sessions Law Firm today.
The Basics of Georgia DUI Motions Practice
THERE ARE SOME BASICS THAT EVERY LAWYER DEFENDING DUI CASES IN GEORGIA SHOULD UNDERSTAND ABOUT MOTIONS HEARINGS.
Today, I had to wait about 3 hours before my motions were heard on a DUI case in Fulton County(Atlanta) State Court. As I sat there, I was approached by another lawyer, not the prosecutor, about what I was doing with my case. We spoke briefly about what my motions were about, and he seemed puzzled as to why were even having a hearing. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and I have often wondered myself why I continually run my head into the proverbial wall known as DUI motions hearings. I have done seminar presentations on what the various uses of motions hearings in Georgia DUI cases are, and I have strong feelings about the need to pursue motions – even when there are no clear issues in the case. At the end of the day, the basis for my pursuit of motions when there are no clear suppression issues is simple and well-established in Georgia law.
The general rule of law governing this Court’s scrutiny of the warrantless search at issue in this case was stated by the Georgia Supreme Court in State v. Slaughter, 252 Ga. 435, 436, 315 S.E.2d 865 (1984):
Searches are conducted either with or without a search warrant. ‘The most basic constitutional rule in this area is that ‘searches conducted outside the judicial process, without prior approval by judge or magistrate, are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment-subject only to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions.’ The exceptions are ‘jealously and carefully drawn,’ and there must be ‘a showing by those who seek … that the exigencies of the situation made that course imperative.’ ‘[T]he burden is on those seeking the exemption to show the need for it.” Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 454-455, 91 S.Ct. 2022, 2032, 29 L.Ed.2d 564 (1971)(citations omitted).
Because the burden is on those officers who conduct a search without a warrant to show that the search was conducted pursuant to an exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement, it can be said that a search without a warrant is presumed to be invalid and the burden is on the state to show that the warrantless search was valid. Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385, 390-391, 98 S.Ct. 2408, 2412-2413, 57 L.Ed.2d 290 (1978); McDonald v. United States, 335 U.S. 451, 456, 69 S.Ct. 191, 193, 93 L.Ed. 153 (1948).
“Once a defendant files a motion to suppress alleging an illegal search and seizure, the state bears the burden of proving that the search is lawful.” State v. Kuhnhausen, 289 Ga. App. 489, 657 S.E.2d 592 (2008), citing State v. King, 287 Ga. App. 680, 652 S.E.2d 574 (2007).
Contact Our Atlanta DUI Defense Attorneys Today
At Sessions Law Firm, we understand the impact a DUI conviction can have on you and your family. Attorney Ben Sessions is dedicated to defending those charged with this serious crime. In fact, he is one of just five attorneys across Georgia to be certified by the National College for DUI Defense. In addition to years of experience, our legal team offers each client an unparalleled level of attention. To learn how our Georgia DUI lawyers can help you, contact Sessions Law Firm today.
Defending Blood Tests in Your Atlanta DUI Case
Defending against DUI blood tests is one of the most intimidating pieces of evidence for DUI defense attorneys. In most metro-Atlanta jurisdictions, we are seeing an increasing number of DUI arrests that involve refusal of the state-administered blood, breath, or urine test followed by the officer obtaining a search warrant and a blood test.
The use of search warrants to obtain evidence in DUI cases has been a focus in Georgia and nationally for years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made the use of search warrants in DUI cases a priority years ago:
The State is attempting to obtain and use the blood test result in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 40-5-67.1:
(d.1) Nothing in this Code section shall be deemed to preclude the acquisition or admission of evidence of a violation of Code Section 40-6-391 if obtained by voluntary consent or a search warrant as authorized by the Constitution or laws of this state or the United States.
Here is the problem with dealing with this evidence.
Georgia law requires you to submit to state administered chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances for the purpose of determining if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you refuse this testing, your Georgia driver’s license or privilege to drive on the highways of this state will be suspended for a minimum period of one year. Your refusal to submit to the required testing may be offered into evidence against you at trial.
O.C.G.A. § 40-5-67.1.
Every DUI lawyer that accepts the responsibility of defending these cases must appreciate the difficulty associated with the admissibility of both the refusal to submit to testing and the admissibility of a blood test drawn pursuant to a search warrant. On the one hand, the jury gets to hear that the defendant wanted to prevent people from knowing what their blood-alcohol concentration was. On the other hand, the jurors will know what the blood-alcohol concentration is. Obviously, we will deal with very few of these cases in which the blood-alcohol concentration is below the legal limit.