Bubba Head Fights Gwinnett DUI Checkpoint Case For 3971 Days, Before Getting the DUI Reduced to Reckless Driving
By:William C. Head, Atlanta DUI Attorney
When potential DUI clients call his office to ask “how much does a DUI lawyer cost?” Gwinnett County DUI lawyer Bubba Head does not simply explain the cost of a DUI defense. Some DUI checkpoints cases require a major effort to win, like another Fulton County sobriety checkpoint case from 2015 (Armentrout) that Mr. Head was successful at having the DUI roadblock declared unconstitutional, despite the Judge not agreeing with the legal argument, and necessitating an appeal. Mr. Head insists on explaining that his DUI law firm only handles CONTESTED cases, where the person is seeking acquittal, or a reduction of the serious criminal charge, such as DUI reduced to reckless driving or a lesser traffic offense, like speeding or failure to maintain lane.
In his 40 years as a criminal defense attorney, DUI lawyer Bubba Head of Atlanta has never charged hourly legal fees for DUI defense or criminal defense cases. A fixed retainer for criminal defense attorney fees in a driving under the influence case is not universal with Georgia lawyers. Few criminal lawyers take the approach of “contested cases only,” and no other Georgia DUI lawyers have a better track record over the last 30 years for getting DUI cases reduced.
So, DUI fees at Mr. Head’s office are a flat retainer fee, charged in each case, and this fee and other fees are paid in increments (i.e., retainer, pre-trial motions, trial, appeal, etc.), as the criminal case progresses. Some driving under the influence cases get resolved in 4 to 8 months, but most take well over a year to finalize. One Gwinnett County police checkpoint case took 10 years, 10 months, and 13 days (3971 days) for Mr. Head to obtain a solution that saved his Client’s job (making about $160,000 salary per year while the case was pending), and proving the value of a flat fee arrangement for handling Georgia DUI defense cases.
This Gwinnett County State Court DUI checkpoint case and the all-out effort to save Mr. Head’s client’s job at an alcohol beverage distribution company indicates both the tenacity of the Atlanta DUI lawyer, but it also shows that flat fees are the only reasonable alternative for an accused drunk driver who plans to fight to save his driver’s license, his job, and (in this case) his home. Bubba Head, criminal defense attorney Atlanta, has had dozens of cases take over 5 years to resolve, all for the same FLAT retainer fee, since he knows that this is just part of his job, and that (on average) his retainer will cover the time it takes to secure a great outcome for the Client.
The case began at a March 18, 2004, DUI checkpoint in Gwinnett County, located near Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, just north of the DeKalb County line. In the 1990s and throughout the 2000s, DUI checkpoints in Gwinnett County (like this one) were very common, but police checkpoints have been greatly reduced in the past 5 or 6 years, due to budget cutbacks and fewer DUI task force officers being utilized in Gwinnett County, as DUI cases drop in number.
The date is also significant, in that the DUI roadblock was at 12:05 AM, following St. Patrick’s Day. No bad driving was observed by the Client’s vehicle. He simply rolled up to a sobriety checkpoint, and had to be screened for possible impairment, and to assure he had his driver’s license and insurance.
After his arrest at the checkpoint, the Client took the implied consent breathalyzer test on the Intoxilyzer 5000, and had two exhalations of 0.166 and 0.168 – double the legal limit. He was charged with DUI less safe under OCGA 40-6-391, subsection (a)(1), and DUI per se (being over the legal limit) under OCGA 40-6-391, subsection (a)(5). Although no traffic offense was observed as he approached the DUI checkpoint, the Client had an open container of alcohol in his console and faced this charge and the other two counts under Georgia DUI laws. The Client was married with 4 children, the youngest of which was in the 5th grade when the case began.
Mr. Head filed multiple suppression motions and motions in limine (motions to LIMIT evidence) by raising numerous legal attacks. Among the attacks was a challenge to the constitutionality of DUI checkpoints. Another was a full-blown challenge to the reliability of the Intoxilyzer 5000, by requesting the breath machine’s computer source code and assembly tools to verify that the testing device could produce reliable results for a person like the Client, who suffered from allergies and asthma. In addition, a DUI checkpoint attack on the constitutionality of the safety checkpoint was originally filed in 2004 and pursued.
The DUI roadblock motion was rejected by the Gwinnett County magistrate court judge who was sitting in for the State Court of Gwinnett County assigned judge, when pre-trial motions were first considered. This was fairly early in the life of this case. This denial of the DUI checkpoint motion later became the source of the victory in this case, but only after two favorable Georgia Supreme Court cases (Williams v. State and Brown v. State) clarified new requirements for DUI checkpoints in Georgia in 2013. [Williams v. State, 293 Ga. 883, 750 S.E.2d 355 (2013); Brown v. State, 293 Ga. at 787, 750 S.E.2d 148 (2013)].
Not able to initially secure a total acquittal by having the Georgia DUI checkpoint declared to be illegal, Mr. Head then sought a ruling from the trial judge on getting access to the source code. Subpoenas were served on the Prosecutor, the GBI, and even upon a representative of the Kentucky manufacturer of the breath machine used in Georgia at the time, the Intoxilyzer 5000. Multiple hearings and calendar calls for the case, and an interlocutory appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeals (granted by a Gwinnett State Court judge on October 23, 2007) kept this case in limbo for years, as Mr. Head fought the Intoxilyzer source code issue in other misdemeanor courts in Cobb County, Fulton County, and other locations across Georgia. Mr. Head ultimately won an award (Georgia DODD Group) for the DUI appeal of the year in 2011 for Davenport v. State, which was ruled upon by the Georgia Supreme Court.
As the appellate courts of both Georgia and Kentucky (where the manufacturer of the Intoxilyzer breath machines is located) rejected multiple efforts to hold the manufacturer accountable to prove that the computerized breath testing machines were working correctly, Mr. Head was able to convince the trial judge to wait for these issues to be resolved. The trial judge made a ruling in court in 2012 that “Hell would freeze over” before she was going to make this Client, with proven medical issues relating to his respiratory illness, have to go to jury trial against the breath machine results. This judge was incensed that the Intoxilyzer manufacturer would not honor her out-of-state subpoena for the source code.
Once the Brown and Williams rulings were made, Mr. Head filed a new request for the State Court of Gwinnett County judge to revisit the prior ruling of the Gwinnett Magistrate Court judge, that the Gwinnett DUI roadblock was lawfully established. This motion for reconsideration was asking the assigned trial judge to now look at the new Georgia Supreme Court rulings, and overturn the prior ruling made by the Magistrate judge, who had been sitting in for her nine years earlier.
The prosecutor, seeing that the entire case may be lost, offered to accept a monetary fine for reckless driving, and all other charges be dropped. So, on January 30, 2015, the Client, whose 5th grader (when the case started) was now graduating college in May of 2015, decided to take the “sure thing” and not risk losing the motion for reconsideration. So, with the DUI reduced to reckless driving and a $1,000 fine, the case was resolved for this reduced plea. He saved his job by hiring the best criminal defense attorney for this drunken driving checkpoint case.
This client’s income was essential to his family during the Great Recession, and he was able to help all four children with the costs of college. With bonuses and raises, he earned nearly $2 million in income. Plus, he avoided the harsh DUI penalties and consequences of a DUI with this plea reduction. The DUI lawyer cost of having Mr. Head defend his DUI checkpoint case was infinitesimal. Despite this case progressing through all stages of the Client’s DUI defense, this flat fee case was not a profitable misdemeanor case for Mr. Head, but most criminal cases for driving while intoxicated get resolved without such a lengthy fight. The two extremes help average out the Herculean efforts put into this Gwinnett State Court DUI checkpoints case. So, when considering “cost of DUI,” review the all-out efforts made by Bubba Head.
If you have a friend who asks you, “How much does a DUI lawyer cost?” tell the person to read this true account of the importance of FIGHTING a case to win, and paying the best DUI attorney you can find, who is willing to never give up in the quest for a reduction of charges or an acquittal for his or her client facing DUI. So, if you are looking for a DUI Attorney in Gwinnett County or any other place in Georgia, call Bubba Head at 1-888-384-4323 [1-888-DUI-HEAD].
Call 42-year veteran Atlanta DUI attorney Bubba Head today and get honest answers to all your questions. Tell us everything that happened and everything you remember about your DUI arrest. The sooner you call us, the better chance we have to win your DUI case and get your charges reduced or dismissed.
Remember, you only have 30 DAYS to file a license suspension appeal or apply for an ignition interlock device, or your driver’s license will be suspended for up to one year! Talk to Bubba Head, Larry Kohn, or Cory Yager now. We are available 24 hours a day, weekends, and all major holidays. (404) 567-5515