LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Jodie E. Rosser | Jun 1, 2011

Gwinnett County Programs that offer alternatives in negotiating terms in a typical DUI sentence

A standard DUI sentence in Georgia will include certain minimums required by Georgia State Code, such as Alcohol and Drug Evaluation, probation, community service or work alternative program, and time to serve in confinement/jail. Gwinnett County does offer several alternatives that you should be informed about. Not all programs will be applicable to every DUI sentence and not all programs are available to every DUI defendant.

Alcohol and Drug Evaluation:

The Alcohol and Drug Evaluation in Gwinnett County will often be mandated through GRN. Gwinnett County describes GRN as follows:

The GRN Court Services Program is designed to assist individuals, court ordered and voluntary, to become better informed about problems related to substance abuse. Its purpose is to help minimize the risk of future alcohol/drug related problems. Efforts are made to identify those individuals who are at risk as well as individuals who are experiencing the devastating physical and emotional effects and characteristics of the disease of chemical dependency. This Program attempts to provide appropriate counseling/education interventions as well as assistance in referrals to substance abuse treatment Programs, inpatient and outpatient, and when indicated placement in long-term residential treatment facilities. Individuals referred to GRN Court Services will be evaluated in an effort to determine the extent to which he or she may be experiencing a problem with substance abuse. The evaluation process includes: a written evaluation utilizing standardize Alcohol/Drug Assessment instruments, a clinical interpretation of assessment results, and a clinical interview.

GRN Court Services is located at 595 Old Norcross Road, Suite A, Lawrenceville, GA 30046 at 770-682-2933.

It is possible to request that the Judge make it a condition of the Order that the Alcohol and Drug Evaluation be performed by any State Certified Alcohol and Drug Evaluator instead of through GRN. Some Judges will allow this, but others will not.

Probation:

Probation in Gwinnett County is supervised by a private probation company contracting with the Court where you are being sentenced. As of May 2011, Gwinnett State Court contracts with Southeast Corrections 148 South Clayton Street, Lawrenceville, Georgia at 404-410-2555. As of May 2011, Gwinnett Recorder’s Court contracts with Sentinel Offender Services, 320 West Pike Street, Suite 100, Lawrenceville, GA 30046 at 770-339-5120.

It is possible to request that your probation become non-reporting after completion of the other elements of your DUI sentence and, if you live out of state or several hours from Gwinnett County, to request that you be allowed to report by Phone or Mail. These requests are within the discretion of the presiding Judge and are determined on a case by case basis.

Community Service or Work Alternative Program:

If you are sentenced to complete community service in Gwinnett County, you can complete your hours at any 501(c)(3) nonprofit, although performing community service at a church is not always accepted by probation. Your probation officer will either provide a form for the nonprofit to complete regarding hours completed or accept a letter on the nonprofit’s letterhead. If you are looking for community service opportunities, you may e-mail Volunteer Resources for Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation at volunteer[email protected] or call 770-418-2331.

The Work Alternative Program is considered the harsher of these alternatives and depending upon the Judge, may be required instead of community service. Gwinnett County describes the Work Alternative Program (WAP) as:

The Work Alternative Program (WAP) allows the Courts to assign offenders of minor crimes to perform Community Service through work details such as roadway cleanup crews. Work Alternative participants pay $85.00 to enter the program, as well as a daily fee ranging from $4.00 to $7.00 depending on the number of days sentenced. The telephone number for WAP is 678-407-6061 ext. 12.

Time to Serve:

As an alternative to confinement, Gwinnett County has a Work Release Program. Gwinnett County describes the Work Release Program as:

The Work Release Program is an alternative to prison time as it allows the residents the opportunity to maintain employment or gain employment while in a structured environment. All residents must pay $125.00 registration fee and $16.00 per day room and board. Each resident is expected to pay the registration fee $125.00, and one week's room and board ($237.00) at orientation. Only cash, money orders, or cashier's checks are acceptable forms of payment. Employment policies are part of the program. Several of these policies are listed below.

  • All residents of the Diversion Center must maintain full time verifiable employment of not less than 40 hours per week. Residents may not work longer than 12-hours each day including travel time without permission of their Caseworker. Residents working two jobs may work a maximum of 16 hours per day including travel time.

  • Employment must be within a 50-mile radius of the Diversion Center.

  • If a resident refuses to make an honest effort to maintain full time employment, he/she will be transferred to the Correctional Institute or Detention Center to complete his/her sentence.

A complete review of the Work Release Program policies will be explained at orientation. The telephone number for Work Release is 678-407-6000.

You may be able to serve your time in confinement in the Work Release Program as oppose to serving time in the Gwinnett County Jail. You do not receive two for one credit in the Work Release Program and you must comply with the provisions above to be in the program. There is also a cost associated with the program, a portion of which must be paid prior to entering into the program.

You may also be able to negotiate a turn in date to begin serving your time in confinement rather than going from the court directly to the Gwinnett County Jail to begin serving any sentence imposed. Some Judges allow you to turn yourself in within a reasonable time period but other Judges do not allow for a turn in date and require you go directly into custody. You may be able to request that your time to serve be broken up over a period of time or that you be allowed to serve your time on weekends only but be aware that you will not receive two for one credit in this situation.

It is advised that in all DUI cases, you should seek representation from a qualified DUI defense attorney.

For more information, please visit http://www.gwinnettcourts.com/#courtprograms/, this site is the resource for all Gwinnett County Program descriptions quoted above.

Disclaimer: I recommend retaining a qualified attorney who specializes in criminal DUI defense. Most attorneys offer free consultations and can review the circumstances of your case with you so you can decide on the best course of action in your case. Please note that this is not intended to be specific legal advice.

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