What Should I Expect in the Georgia DUI Process?
What Should I Expect in the Georgia DUI Process?
The Georgia DUI case process can vary widely according to the jurisdiction in which the case is pending. However, there are some parts that remain consistent across every court. Understanding those parts and processes will go a long way towards removing the uncertainty and anxiety following an arrest. Below are the basic elements of a DUI arrest, and there are links to pages on our site that provide more detailed explanations of these individual parts. As always, if you have questions about your DUI case, call us.
The Georgia DUI Case Process: What to Expect
- What is the ALS Appeal or Ignition Interlock Permit. Within 30 days from the date of arrest, you must file an appeal of any administrative license suspension arising from your DUI arrest or you must obtain an ignition interlock permit. Whether to file an appeal or to obtain an ignition interlock permit can be one of the most important decisions in your case.
- What is the ALS Hearing? The administrative license suspension (ALS) hearing determines whether your driver’s license or privilege to drive in Georgia will be suspended prior to the conclusion of your criminal case. At this hearing, the arresting officer must appear. If the officer does not appear, your license suspension case, which is separate from your criminal DUI case, is dismissed.
- What is the DUI Arraignment? The arraignment hearing in your Georgia DUI case is where you enter a not guilty or guilty plea in your DUI case. Do not stress if you have received notice of the arraignment in your DUI case. That hearing is not a substantive hearing on the merits of your case, but the arraignment does mean that the formal prosecution of your DUI case is beginning.
- What are pre-trial motions and when must they be filed? Motions to suppress and motions in limine are extremely important in DUI cases. They must be filed within 10 days of the date of arraignment.
- What are DUI Pre-trial Motions Hearings? Pre-trial motions hearings are hearings at which the Judge rules upon motions that your attorney has filed asking for all of the State’s case to be dismissed or for part of the State’s evidence to be excluded from use at the trial of your case.
Most of my clients want to do everything possible to avoid having to go to court. I can’t blame them. If you have a DUI charge pending, going to court feels like another opportunity for something bad to happen. Usually, going to court means a lot of anxiety for my client. However, motions hearings should not be stressful for you. Generally, during a motions hearing, you will not need to do anything. You will just need to be present and listen to the testimony of the police officer (or other witnesses) and the argument of your lawyer and the prosecutor. Motions hearings in your DUI case are an opportunity for you to win your case prior to a trial.
How are motions hearings an opportunity to win your DUI?
If success at a motion to suppress is defined in terms of having the motion granted, success is seldom achieved. The most common use of motions to suppress is to develop a trial advantage and, consequently, improve the plea offer.
We develop a trial advantage by demonstrating to the prosecutor various problems with their case. For example, let us look at a case in which the arrest report described a defendant as “faking” when attempting to blow into the breath testing machine. However, the discovery showed that our client submitted “sufficient” samples, but the first sample produced an “invalid sample” result at 12:03 a.m. The officer subsequently tested our client at 12:08 a.m. and 12:11 a.m., which produced results of .099 and .110. The performance of the defendant’s breath test directly violates the 20 minute waiting period. However, these results are admissible in Georgia. Use the motions hearing as an opportunity to have the officer tell the prosecutor that he failed to adhere to his training in the administration of the breath test and he incorrectly recorded the evidence in his incident report.
Cases improve during the course of live testimony. During motion hearings, issues are developed and some just arise which were previously unknown. Cases that seem hopeless, develop hope. Be rigorous in your preparation, and you will uncover favorable evidence. When you develop favorable evidence, plea offers improve (i.e., the DUI is frequently dismissed or “reduced”).
Even in a motion hearing where the evidence does not change substantially during the hearing, you have an opportunity to lock the officer into his testimony. You have an opportunity to observe the officer’s testimony and to observe his demeanor. Learning how the officer addresses difficult issues prior to the trial can be the difference between winning and losing at trial.
There is one final note on the use of motions to prepare for trial: have the motions taken down and transcribed. Having a transcript to prepare from for trial is invaluable.
There are a lot of pitfalls that people (and lawyers) fall into in DUI cases, and the filing of motions is certainly one of those areas. Motions need to be filed within 10 days from the date of arraignment or a court may refuse to hear pre-trial motions. Do not waive this important right.
- What is the Calendar Call in a DUI case? The calendar call is a hearing at which the Court asks for an announcement from the State and from your lawyer about what else remains to be done on the case and whether it is ready for trial.The procedure followed after the arraignment in your Georgia DUI case can vary from court-to-court. However, at some point in time after your arraignment and prior to the trial of your DUI case, you will scheduled for a calendar call. The calendar call date is a hearing that Courts use to determine which case are ready for trial, which cases are ready for trial, and which cases have outstanding issues such as motions that need to be heard prior to the trial of the case. The calendar call date in your Georgia DUI case can be a significant date for many reasons.First, the calendar call date provides an important opportunity to speak with the prosecutor again prior to trial in the effort to conclude the case on terms that are agreeable to you. There is probably no better means of attaining a favorable resolution of your case than simply announcing “ready for trial” at a calendar call. That being said, announcing ready means nothing if you and your DUI lawyer are not prepared to actually try the case. A lawyer who announces ready for trial when he or she repeatedly does not try cases will quickly lose credibility with the court. A defendant who attempts to bluff the prosecutor and court by announcing ready when they actually do not intend to try the case may suffer some severe consequences. See the second point addressed below.Second, in many, but not all, courts, the calendar call is the last opportunity to enter a “negotiated plea” in your Georgia DUI case. While I extremely dislike these policies, it is more important that you understand that the policy exists and what the possible ramifications are on your case.
- Trial or Plea.