Explanation from a DUI Lawyer
There are two sides to the DUI process in Georgia: the administrative license suspension hearing (ALS hearing) and the criminal court process. Having a skilled Atlanta criminal defense attorney at your side during all proceedings is in your best interests, as it will give you an advantage and help you reach a positive outcome for your case.
Steps Involved in the Process
- Arrest: Law enforcement can make an arrest for DUI if they find probable cause that you were driving under the influence. This is usually established by how an individual was driving, how the driver performed on field sobriety tests and any outward signs of intoxication which the officer observed. After your arrest, you will be asked to take a breathalyzer test or blood test to determine your blood alcohol concentration.
- Arraignment: This is the first court appearance for a defendant facing DUI charges in Atlanta. The defendant will enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest, and a bail amount will be set. The defendant may also be released on his/her own recognizance.
- Trial: If no plea agreement is reached prior to the trial, the criminal trial proceedings will begin. The general rule is that offenses punishable by 6 months or more in jail will be tried by a jury, but a defendant may request a trial without a jury (where a judge will oversee the proceedings and deliver a verdict).
- Appeal: After a DUI conviction, you may be able to file an appeal in order to prove that a trial error occurred and therefore possibly have a chance for a re-trial or lesser sentencing.
- Expungement: Although Georgia law usually prohibits expungement, it may be possible to have a DUI conviction expunged from your record depending upon the particular circumstances. A lawyer can advise you as to whether or not you qualify.
Understanding the process of criminal proceedings after being charged with a DUI is elemental. To be prepared, you must understand your rights, what to expect, and how to defend yourself against unwanted penalties. It is crucial to have a knowledgeable lawyer by your side throughout the entire DUI process if you hope to defend yourself with an effective legal strategy.