By: William C. (Bubba) Head – Board-Certified Atlanta DUI Attorney and Criminal Defense Lawyer
Let a DUI lawyer Atlanta from our top-rated DUI law firm help you “navigate” the City of Atlanta Traffic Court (official name is Municipal Court of Atlanta or Atlanta Municipal Court). If you have been arrested for DUI in Atlanta, you will need the best Atlanta DUI attorney to receive the best possible outcome in your case.
The word “municipal” means “city.” Under Georgia DUI laws, all traffic tickets and other misdemeanor citations issued by the Georgia State Patrol or any City of Atlanta police officers, within the Atlanta city limits, will be booked into the Atlanta Detention Center, and then set for a first appearance (arraignment) at the Atlanta Court. You will need an experienced DUI attorney if you want to win your case for DUI in Atlanta.
When you take advantage of the FREE, professional DUI lawyer consultation with one of our Atlanta DUI attorneys, not only will our lawyers in Atlanta explain how to beat a DUI in court, but also will review our DUI attorney payment plans.
Our Atlanta attorneys also explain why hiring a skilled DUI attorney in Atlanta can take most of the stress out of your driving under the influence arrest for DUI in Georgia.
CALL our DUI specialists NOW, even on weekends and holidays: 404-567-5515 or 1-888-384-4323 [1-888-DUI-HEAD].
Our criminal defense attorneys in Atlanta are also skilled in helping Clients avoid suffering a driver’s license suspension from the Georgia DDS (Georgia Department of Driver Services). Almost every arrest for DUI in Atlanta will be accompanied by confiscation of your driver’s license, and the filing of a DDS 1205 form, which states the “related” administrative license suspension of your driving privileges, as part of the GA driver’s license statutes relating to the Georgia implied consent law.
Because losing the right to drive is such a major setback for most people arrested for DUI in Atlanta, our Atlanta attorneys emphasize NOT letting this happen.
When a traffic ticket attorney in Atlanta from our DUI law firm is at your side, you will feel relieved to know that nothing bad is going to happen to you at the Atlanta Municipal Court. Under Georgia DUI law (and the Constitutional protections that a person charged with DUI in Georgia has) the case can ALWAYS be transferred to Fulton County State Court, or DeKalb County State Court, where misdemeanor jury trials can be obtained.
Two different State Courts may be the proper “venue” for the transfer since the City of Atlanta is partially located in both counties. Our lawyers in Atlanta seek the best result in Atlanta, and (if not satisfactory to you) we “bind over” the case to the jury trial court.
DUI arraignment. Arraignment at traffic court Atlanta is the first appearance after being given a traffic ticket and being released, or (if arrested and booked at the Atlanta Detention Center) after bonding out of jail after your arrest for DUI in Atlanta. DUI arrests and other traffic violations in Atlanta Municipal Court are put on a “fast track” calendar that MAY require your appearance at traffic court Atlanta GA in less than 24 hours after you are released from jail.
WE CAN COVER this Atlanta Traffic Court first appearance if you hire us!
At this DUI arraignment (first appearance) in Atlanta Municipal Court, you MUST attend this first court appearance UNLESS you have hired a criminal defense attorney to represent you. Your Atlanta DUI attorney will appear on your behalf and file an “entry of appearance” on the court date and before the specified time for court. A criminal defense attorney Atlanta from our DUI law firm does this in the City of Atlanta Municipal Court virtually every day of the week, Monday through Friday.
Arraignment is a First Court Appearance, Not a Trial Date. A DUI arraignment is NOT a trial date. No witnesses need appear. A traffic ticket lawyer from our Atlanta law firm can go without you needing to be present.
Unless the accused person facing a DUI or other Atlanta traffic ticket in Atlanta Traffic Court merely wants to appear in court to enter a plea (guilty or not guilty) to the criminal charges or the traffic ticket or tickets (guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere, typically), it is a waste of a client’s time to go.
Once a plea is entered, a “clock” starts ticking, because your written pretrial motions must be filed within 10 days after arraignment, if you plan to challenge the evidence of drunk driving against you.
An Atlanta attorney skilled in criminal defense from our Georgia DUI law office can enter a not guilty plea for you, and file suppression motions, a speedy trial demand, or other targeted pretrial motions. This traffic court Atlanta first appearance is also your chance to learn what your exact charges are at the Municipal Court of Atlanta, but we also can handle that for you. The judge will “arraign” you (read those charges to you out loud) if you wish.
BE AWARE that entering a not guilty plea and getting a court date for your trial has certain perils that a non-lawyer would not usually know. In fact, any Atlanta DUI attorney who is not intimately familiar with the criminal justice system should never GUESS at what the “next step” should be, to properly represent a person accused in the Atlanta Traffic Court. Certain deadlines exist for your Atlanta attorney filing suppression motions, a constitutional speedy trial demand, or a waiver of a jury trial.
You or your Atlanta DUI attorney can opt for your case to be heard as a “bench trial,” or to be bound over for a jury trial in a different court, and with a different judge and prosecutor.
Since this initial court appearance at the Atlanta Courthouse can be within a few days of your release from jail or more than 30 days later, having a DUI lawyer go to court for you may help save your job. PLUS, read below about PROTECTING the RIGHT TO DRIVE.
The chances of you being able to make a phone call to the Atlanta Municipal Court and get a person on the phone to help you postpone your court date, to reschedule your arraignment, or grant you a continuance is probably less than 1%.
Even if you have time to go down to the Municipal Court of Atlanta prior to your scheduled court date to seek a continuance, you are in no way assured that the postponement will be granted. You do not want to risk a bond forfeiture and suspension of your license for failure to appear (FTA) for the City of Atlanta Municipal Court.
This is why retaining an Atlanta criminal defense attorney who regularly appears for drunk driving clients and other citizens facing DUI in Atlanta misdemeanor offenses is essential. Depending on your job situation, travel requirements, college attendance, or your need to be able to take care of your daily family obligations, you should hire a professional drunk driving lawyer in Atlanta to handle your criminal or traffic court Atlanta case.
Atlanta traffic is both constant and dangerous. Because this is a fact, the Georgia State Patrol and Atlanta Police patrol all parts of the city of Atlanta, and both can issue your Atlanta traffic ticket. Even if you simply wanted to pay a City of Atlanta traffic ticket, the online traffic ticket interface will not allow any serious Atlanta Georgia traffic citations to be paid, without having to appear in Municipal Court of Atlanta.
Either hire a private Atlanta drunk driving lawyer or qualify for help from a public defender for your traffic ticket in Atlanta. For a DUI in Atlanta (or any other Georgia DUI court) remember that the public defender cannot represent you in protecting your Georgia driver’s license at the Department of Driver Services license suspension hearings. If your driver’s license was taken and a DDS 1205 form issued to you, there are only 30 DAYS to appeal your pending DUI suspension. Don’t make an uninformed decision about these matters.
Virtually all DUI arrests in GA trigger a SEPARATE administrative license suspension (GA ALS) due to either (a) refusing the requested breath test, blood test, or urine test, or (b) taking a breathalyzer and “blowing” over the legal limit.
If your plastic driver’s license was not returned to you, when you bonded out of jail, then it is virtually certain that you are facing an ALS suspension, under the GA implied consent law.
The administrative license suspension proceeding is part of the Georgia implied consent law, wherein your Georgia drivers license or privilege to drive in Georgia can be suspended, long before your DUI Atlanta criminal case is resolved. You must appeal this pending license suspension within 30 days after the DUI arrest, or suffer a total loss of driving privileges.
Also, be aware that if you are indigent (cannot afford to hire a private DUI attorney and get the Court to appoint a lawyer) that a public defender will NOT assist you with protecting your right to drive on the ADMINISTRATIVE suspension. A public defender is not allowed to appear at the administrative driver license suspension hearings, to represent you. They are being paid ONLY to handle the criminal case at Atlanta Traffic Court.
Once again, if the State of Georgia DDS suspends you here, notice is also required to be forwarded to the DPS, DMV, BMV, or SOS office in your home state. Then, not only can you not drive in Georgia, but you will be unable to legally operate a motor vehicle ANYWHERE.
These harsh driver license suspension penalties for not properly handling an Atlanta traffic ticket will take hours of time and some additional money to rectify, plus they can put you back into the Atlanta (or other) jail if you are pulled over and have an arrest warrant showing on the computer.
Being certain that your driving under the influence case does not “fall between the cracks” is one of the main reasons that you should retain an Atlanta criminal defense attorney who specializes in “impaired driving” criminal cases, DUI alcohol and DUI drugs cases.
Once hired, your drunk driving attorney can appear for you at almost all future court appearances, and you do not have to go to Atlanta Municipal Court. This is true for all Atlanta traffic tickets, but you may have to attend Municipal Court of Atlanta, at least one time, on serious misdemeanor offenses, like driving under the influence, driving with insurance, driving while suspended, hit and run, attempting to elude a police officer, second degree vehicular homicide, or reckless driving.
Call us for help on protecting your Georgia driver’s license, and to timely file your Georgia DDS letter and pay the filing fee of $150 to Georgia DDS. Alternatively, SOME Georgia licensees can opt for limited permit privileges, and an ignition interlock for 12 months, for a refusal to take the official breath alcohol test. You have some options for a DUI in Atlanta, if you have the best Atlanta DUI attorneys handling your case.
Our DUI attorneys MUST know your entire situation, to be able to properly advise you whether to appeal to Georgia DDS or to take the 12-month ignition interlock (for those Georgia drivers who are eligible). You can fill it out in your own name, until you can later add a DUI attorney to that administrative license appeal.
This is a critical part of every DUI arrest in Atlanta Traffic Court. Call our toll-free number 1-888-384-4323 or our Atlanta hotline: 404-567-5515, to see HOW to Save your license.
The Atlanta Municipal Court handles misdemeanor traffic offenses made within the city limits of Atlanta, plus handles city of Atlanta ordinance violations, and a limited number of state law misdemeanor criminal offenses. If your arrest for DUI in Atlanta is a 4th DUI in 10 years or involves a DUI and serious injury by vehicle GA accusation or vehicular homicide Georgia charge, or is otherwise going to be a felony DUI case, your criminal case will be sent from the Municipal Court of Atlanta to either the Fulton County Superior Court or the DeKalb County Superior Court (depending on which county your arrest took place in).
In Georgia, all “moving violations” (traffic offense cases) such as speeding, red light violation, or a stop sign violation are misdemeanor crimes under the State law of GA, and typically have a maximum allowable sentence of a $1,000 fine and 12 months in jail for each state law crime.
DUI felony traffic offense cases, such as homicide by vehicle, serious bodily injury by vehicle, felony attempting to elude, felony hit and run, etc., will not be handled in Municipal Court of Atlanta, and the fines for a DUI fourth offense can be $5,000 plus surcharges for a felony charge. Additionally, State Prison time for felonies is part of every DUI-related death case or a DUI leads to a charge under for serious bodily injury.
Fines and restitution costs for causing a person’s death or serious bodily injury by a felony DUI or other serious traffic offense could be much higher. In fact, these bonds are not part of a pre-approved schedule of bonds, as for a DUI misdemeanor. Your DUI lawyer may have to go to Court and have an appropriate bond posted for you to be released from jail. This is all part of our DUI attorney cost, for felony DUI cases.
Drunk driving laws are very punitive. In fact, a third DUI offense within 10 years is a high and aggravated misdemeanor, and can carry a maximum fine of $5,000. However, very few 3rd DUI offense cases are handled in the City of Atlanta Municipal Court. Most are processed in Fulton County State Court or DeKalb County State Court, depending on which county the arrest for DUI took place.
Any repeat offense DUI being processed in the Municipal Court must be handled by an experienced Atlanta criminal defense attorney who can provide competent legal counsel. Being wrongly convicted and being sent to jail for several months is the unfortunate cost of losing, when you don’t win your DUI case, or find an acceptable reduced plea.
Not all criminal defense lawyers in Atlanta are fully trained on fighting driving under the influence cases and the many ways to beat a DUI. This is a topic that our DUI law firm is very familiar with, since all three of our Atlanta DUI lawyers, Bubba Head, Larry Kohn and Cory Yager are drunk driving book authors, on topics relating to winning a DUI case.
In Georgia, a person can be arrested at a DUI checkpoint even when NO moving violation (traffic violation) has occurred. These police checkpoint seizures of citizens driving in Atlanta GA are usually established in Buckhead, the historic bar and restaurant district for the City of Atlanta. Using an app to find “roadblocks near me” is hit or miss, since these can be established and relocated by the Georgia State Patrol or Atlanta city police.
Sobriety checkpoints in the City of Atlanta are a great source of making legal attacks on the probable cause to arrest for DUI. These legal challenges to warrantless arrests, where no driving violation has been observed, can be especially successful when the motorist at a DUI roadblock refuses to talk, and refuses any field sobriety test that the police will try to obtain at the roadside.
Sobriety checkpoints violate the Constitution whenever police take shortcuts and do not strictly follow all rules about the establishment of their DUI checkpoint locations. When your DUI checkpoint locator fails you, our Atlanta traffic ticket lawyers will also attack police officer non-compliance with all GA DUI laws (such as timely and completely giving the Georgia implied consent law notice, or denial of a request for an independent blood alcohol test, as required under Georgia law.)
The City of Atlanta Traffic Court processes all Atlanta city ordinance violations, in addition to adjudicating of violations of DUI in Atlanta, including a first offense DUI, a 2nd DUI in GA, and even a 3rd DUI offense (which are all misdemeanors in GA). Every DUI in Atlanta, Georgia has the potential for jail time.
For City of Atlanta ordinance violations, the range of possible punishment is up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 maximum fine. State misdemeanors all carry a 12-month maximum jail sentence at the Atlanta Detention Center and typically limit fines to $1000 plus statutory surcharges.
However, a 3rd DUI in ten years has a fine of up to $5,000. Of course, some traffic ticket offenses handled in the Municipal Court of Atlanta have lesser maximum penalties (such as having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, seat belt violation), and some serious driving offenses (such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs—DUI, or hit and run, racing, or attempting to elude an officer, child endangerment) — have mandatory minimum jail time penalties under Georgia DUI laws.
Our DUI attorneys handle any City of Atlanta Traffic Ticket that puts your job or Georgia driver’s license at risk. If you are unrepresented and are not sure whether to fight the criminal charges or enter a plea (because you have not had time to speak to a criminal defense lawyer), you can appear at this first court date, plead NOT GUILTY, and tell the court that you need more time “talk to a lawyer” before deciding the best way to proceed with your case.
Remember, our DUI law firm provides FREE consultations on drunk driving, DUI drugs, possession of marijuana or other misdemeanor traffic offenses in all Atlanta cases, so why not take advantage of this? Any Atlanta traffic tickets that threaten to suspend your right to drive or your job are cases that we handle.
You may need a FREE traffic attorney Atlanta GA. Unless you are at the “poverty level”, the Judge of Municipal Court cannot give you a FREE Atlanta traffic lawyer. If you are indigent or make so little money that you cannot afford a privately-retained defense attorney, the Judge will let you apply for appointment of a public defender, to help with your defense for DUI in Atlanta.
You must financially qualify by completing a sworn statement about your financial hardship, and then the judge will decide the issue of indigence. This application process costs $50 to have your application reviewed, to assure that your financial information is truthful. Also, be aware that lying about your assets, income, and ability to pay is perjury, and this is a serious felony.
Under Georgia traffic laws, every misdemeanor is entitled to a jury trial. If you enter a not guilty plea in Atlanta Municipal Court, a non-jury (bench) trial will be scheduled for your criminal charge or your traffic offense at a specific future date. If you MUST win this case, you may have a better chance with a jury trial. The City of Atlanta traffic court cannot conduct a jury trial, so don’t “waive” (give up) your right to trial by a jury of your peers. Read more below.
Caution: Only non-jury trials (bench trials before the Judge alone) can be obtained in Atlanta traffic court. On all State offenses — even speeding — you can request a jury trial (even if only an Atlanta speeding ticket), and the case then gets bound over from the City of Atlanta Traffic Court to either the State Court of Fulton County or State Court of DeKalb County (the City of Atlanta is located in BOTH counties, and you have the right to be tried in the correct jurisdiction — the County in which you were arrested — under the Georgia “venue” laws).
Second Caution: Do NOT immediately ask for your DUI in Atlanta charges to be bound over, because your best chance to obtain a reduced plea MAY be at Atlanta Municipal Court. This rule is especially true if you were arrested for a DUI in Atlanta, and your declined to take the State-administered breathalyzer test, and are now also facing an Administrative License Suspension for a “DUI refusal”.
Plus, the same exact effort to secure a reduction (e.g., DUI reduced to reckless driving) that your retained DUI defense attorney would make, also SHOULD be attempted by any appointed public defender in the Atlanta Municipal Court. Whenever an Atlanta traffic ticket is bound over, to Fulton State Court, or DeKalb State Court, the REVENUE from that ticket (when it gets resolved) goes to the Court that handles the final disposition. So, an incentive exists for the Traffic Court Atlanta to offer you a “deal” so the fine money remains in Atlanta Traffic Court.
However, simply pleading “not guilty” in the Atlanta Municipal Court at arraignment, without doing more, can be dangerous, because you also need to file certain important pre-trial motions, where appropriate. (See previous sections, about 10 days to file evidence suppression motions).
Therefore, if you enter a “not guilty” plea, also request 10 days to file these important motions, and then go see an experienced criminal defense attorney to get these vital motions filed in a timely manner.
One essential motion is a discovery motion for an outstanding copy of your DUI arrest video. These pre-trial motions can win your criminal case, or possibly be instrumental in excluding key prosecution evidence, such as the field sobriety test of your eyes known as the “HGN”, (horizontal gaze nystagmus) or the Intoxilyzer 9000 breath test results in your drunk driving case.
Then, it is much more likely that your DUI lawyer can negotiate to get the DUI reduced to reckless driving in Georgia.
This suppression of evidence increases the chance of having a DUI in Atlanta reduced to reckless driving or other less serious offense. So, if you have any plan to fight your driving under the influence case to try to win or to seek a reduction of charges, request a continuance for several weeks, to allow you time to hire the best DUI lawyer in Atlanta to guide your case disposition in court. This way, you have not squandered your chance to file pre-trial motions in your pending criminal case, such as a motion to suppress, motion to dismiss, or a constitutional speedy trial demand.
Most serious misdemeanor cases handled at the Municipal Court for the City of Atlanta are for crimes arising from DRIVING a motor vehicle, and any disposition of a case involving a “moving violation” by entering a plea of guilty, nolo contendere, or pleading not guilty but being found guilty at a non-jury trial CAN affect your ability to drive. This loss of ability to drive can happen either through a license suspension by “operation of law” on a DUI conviction or by “points” being added to your driving record on most other vehicle crimes.
Any DUI drug offense, even for prescription drugs, triggers a TOTAL loss of driving privileges. No restricted license or “work permit” can be issued for a DUI drugs conviction. So, due to the accumulation of too many points, or by operation of Georgia law (e.g., a driver under age 21 who enters a nolo contendere plea to reckless driving LOSES all right to drive for 6 months), trying to defend yourself could end up costing you the right to drive.
Similarly, “failure to appear” (FTA) for your scheduled court date will almost always trigger these two serious consequences for you and your privilege to drive in Georgia (or in your home state once GA notifies your state of licensure)
If no acceptable plea “deal” is offered to you and your case needs to be bound over to State Court for a jury trial, certain steps need to be taken by our Atlanta lawyers to “improve” the chances of winning the criminal or traffic case, in Fulton County State Court or DeKalb County State Court.
The failure to make all efforts to position your DUI-alcohol or DUI-drugs case for ultimate victory can be the difference between total dismissal and a conviction. See a top DUI lawyer Atlanta for any DUI in Atlanta.
William C. (Bubba) Head has practiced criminal law for over four decades and has two other Georgia criminal defense attorneys in his law firm, Larry Kohn and Coyer Yager, who are each highly-rated as an Atlanta traffic lawyer, and both with their own great attorney reviews. All three are Georgia Super Lawyers and possess many other legal industry recognitions.
In January of 1991, Mr. Head wrote the FIRST book ever on How to Beat a DUI, which was entitled, “101 Ways to Avoid a Drunk Driving Conviction.” Mr. Head’s attorney ratings are exemplary and his reputation at one of the top law firms in Atlanta is impeccable. Both attorneys, Kohn and Yager, have worked with Mr. Head since they graduated from law school, and are well-versed in Georgia DUI laws and other traffic ticket laws.
Consult with the criminal defense attorney in Atlanta that is a Board-Certified DUI defense lawyer.