By: Attorney William C. Head
Atlanta DUI arrests exceed all other cities in Georgia. The same is true of other Atlanta traffic ticket cases – Atlanta Traffic Court is #1 in volume of traffic citations issued each month in Georgia. That is why so many drunk driving defense lawyers can be found online. The metropolitan area has well over 100 DUI attorneys. However, not all Atlanta DUI attorneys are capable of winning your case.
Why So Many Atlanta DUI Attorneys?
Atlanta DUI attorneys follow the cases. Part of the reason for the disproportionate number of drunk driving and drugged driving arrests in Atlanta include these factors:
- Far more major roadways cross through or circle the metro Atlanta area. I-85, I-75 and I-20 were the original super highways that brought millions of travelers to the cities of Marietta, Lawrenceville, Duluth, Smyrna, and Doraville. Now, auxiliary federal highways like I-575 and I-675 have been built to the Woodstock/Canton area in Cherokee County, and the Stockbridge, Jonesboro, and McDonough areas of Clayton and Henry Counties respectively. Additionally, State thoroughfares like Georgia 400, going north from the Sandy Springs/Dunwoody area and Georgia 316 taking traffic through Lawrenceville through the Winder area and into Athens-Clarke County, create high traffic volume daily. With traffic volume come traffic tickets. With traffic ticket issuance, many people opt to hire a traffic ticket attorney.
- Atlanta, Georgia is world-renowned for its excellent restaurants and entertainment locations. Bars, lounges, food establishments, and sports venues (Falcons, Braves, and Hawks) create millions of drivers, some of whom will need the best Atlanta defense attorney available.
- Specialized task forces have been used in Atlanta for over 25 years. In the early 1990s, the city of Atlanta procured federal grants for DUI enforcement during the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton eras. The Georgia State Patrol (GSP) utilized a special DUI task force known as the “A-Team” to arrest intoxicated drivers for drunk driving. Today, and for the last decade or more, the GSP Nighthawks have been part of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, and have made will over 20,000 DUI arrests, with the large majority going through Atlanta Traffic Court.
These special Georgia Highway Patrol units have focused primarily on the “Buckhead” bar area where young, upwardly mobile adults congregate, and where celebrities and sports figures regularly visited to celebrate their notoriety, especially after a victory.
In more recent years, other “divisions” of this special task force known as GSP Nighthawks have serviced multiple areas. One is based in Gwinnett County, and along Interstate 85 and Highway 316 to Athens. One covers Savannah and Statesboro. One is now handling Columbus to Macon. With more GSP Nighthawks working, DUI Georgia lawyers are defending thousands of DUI arrests annually. When a person arrested for driving under the influence is searching for a lawyer for DUI, the metropolitan area has well over 100 DUI attorneys in Atlanta. Fortunately, our DUI law firm is the best among these 100 or so Atlanta DUI attorneys.
DUI Checkpoints on Feeder Highways
Special DUI units also occasionally set up sobriety checkpoints or safety checks on feeder roads that carry a large volume of traffic to the Interstate highways, Highway 400 or Highway 316. These DUI checkpoints are like a large dragnet utilized to pounce on unsuspecting drinking drivers who are on their way home after enjoying their evening. Because the use of a DUI roadblock can be declared unconstitutional, it is very important to retain a top-rated Atlanta attorney once you are arrested.
8 Questions to Ask Any Potential Atlanta DUI Attorney
Although driving while impaired (DUI) is a part of “criminal defense” practice, the special forensic science knowledge and trial skills needed by your DUI lawyer significantly differs from the average Atlanta criminal defense attorney. For example, these 8 topics are never litigated or even mentioned by “garden variety” Atlanta criminal lawyers who do NOT practice DUI:
- Georgia implied consent law and strict construction of laws pertaining to “voluntarily” submitting the various types of implied consent tests. Ask the candidate you are considering as your traffic lawyer when the last motion to suppress a breathalyzer or blood test was granted, and what was the legal basis for that implied consent test exclusion?
- Infrared spectroscopy, the specific scientific principle which pertains to forensic breath testing and analysis of an approved breath instrument. Your DUI lawyer should know that the sole approved Georgia breathalyzer starting on January 1, 2016 is the Intoxilyzer 9000, made by CMI. He or she should have already attended a special class on the flaws and weaknesses of this breath test machine, since the 9000 machine has been in use across Georgia for over two years.
- When you are talking to your lawyer, Bubba Head suggests that you ask what’s the difference between the infrared wavelength “detection” point of ethanol (alcohol) molecules in the Intoxilyzer 5000 and the Intoxilyzer 9000 machines. If he or she is clueless, then you are talking to the wrong Atlanta criminal attorney.
- Since most drivers arrested have never considered the two-word phrase “implied consent”, ask your lawyer in your pending case to tell you what implied consent law means. If he or she cannot “roll” this explanation off his or her tongue, how will he or she be able to discuss this with jurors, if your DUI case goes to trial in Fulton County State Court or DeKalb County State Court?
- For almost every DUI, an officer will ask for field sobriety test evidence. Ask your proposed Atlanta criminal attorney what year the original investigational study was conducted by the Southern California Research Institute, for NHTSA to determine which field sobriety tests were the best to use at the roadside to help screen suspected impaired drivers for sobriety.
- Even if your case is not a second DUI within 5 years, you can test your DUI lawyer’s knowledge of the law by asking these questions: If I was found guilty of a second offense DUI within 5 years and wanted to know my options for being able to drive after being convicted, at least for work purposes, what steps and alternatives do I have in my case? If I refuse, do I have to install an ignition interlock device on my vehicle after a 2nd DUI in GA? How long must I wait?
- Since most attorneys in Atlanta never go to trial on the cases they handle for their clients, ask him or her for an estimate of the total number of hours they would expect to spend from start to finish, including conducting the trial of your case. If that number is less than 30 hours, then you are likely talking to an attorney who is not fully investigating his or her client’s cases by going to the arrest location, not watching the DUI arrest video, debriefing witnesses, and preparing all of the necessary written pre-trial DUI motions and discovery requests that will be needed to win your DUI case. Any experienced lawyer who DOES NOT go through all the hoops to get through a suppression motion, a motion in limine, the administrative license suspension hearing, selecting the required written jury instructions for submittal to the trial judge, and answering all questions about driver license reinstatement (and related questions) is either uninformed about DUI (translated: inexperienced), or is not fully preparing each DUI case for going to trial.
- Does the DUI lawyer know how to get a DUI expunged, once a case is dismissed? Georgia does not have an expungement law or record restriction law if a DUI conviction occurs or if the DUI is reduced to another offense like reckless driving GA. This means that a conviction for DUI stays on your permanent record for life. If an attorney tells you that he or she can remove a DUI from your record, even if you are convicted, keep moving and look elsewhere. Look for the best DUI lawyer in Atlanta.
Select an Atlanta DUI Attorney Wisely: You Only Get One Chance to Win Your Case
Much like delicate surgery and selecting the right surgeon, you need to choose your Atlanta DUI attorney like you would select a cardiac surgeon to implant a pacemaker or perform an ablation of your heart muscle. You only get one chance to get it right.
While you may buy the Costco brand of fabric softener sheets, when you are selecting the best Atlanta DUI attorney, look to the proven credentials and experience of your criminal defense attorney.
The following five (5) criteria from proven, criminal practice pinnacle sources — for multiple years — should be part of his or her professional resume. I have listed the RAREST of the credentials first, followed by the others which are easier to obtain:
- Board Certified in DUI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD.com)
- Best Lawyers in America for multiple years (BestLawyers.com)
- Martindale-Hubbell, both “av” rated 5.0 of 5.0 and preeminent (Martindale.com)
- Super Lawyers (SuperLawyers.com)
- Life Member of either NACDL.com or GACDL.com
If you find a traffic attorney with three OR MORE of these top honors, you have found one of the best Georgia criminal defense lawyers available to you. If you find anyone with all 5 of these accolades, you have found someone who can take you through the difficult and treacherous path of fighting a driving under the influence case, especially in the event of trial. Atlanta DUI lawyer Bubba Head has achieved all 5 honors or recognitions.
If you have any questions, our Atlanta DUI law firm is staffed by 24 hour lawyers, who (collectively) have handled over 20,000 DUI cases. Call us now at 404-567-5515, and we will speak with you for a FREE professional consultation. We prefer to meet face-to-face, but your phone call gets the process started. Don’t hesitate to connect with Bubba for a free case evaluation now.