Three Proactive Steps for Defending a Driving Under the Influence Case
-Attorney Evan Watson
While your individual situation may vary, in general, I have found that clients almost never hurt their case by starting the following three tasks early on in their case. If you have any questions, or need any guidance on how to best get going with any of the suggestions, please call our office and we will be happy to advise you. Georgia Risk Reduction Class ("DUI School")- This class is required by law for all DUI pleas and convictions. The class is approximately 20 classroom hours, usually taught in one full weekend. The class costs around $300.00, and the same certificate of attendance will satisfy Department of Driver Services and court requirements, if applicable. Additionally, many prosecutors will require this class to be completed in the event we are able to negotiate a non-DUI outcome in your case, so it never hurts to knock it out of the way. A list of Georgia certified classes can be found at: http://www.dds.ga.gov/DUI/SchoolMatrix.aspx Community Service- Community service is required under Georgia law for all DUI pleas and convictions as well. A minimum of 40 hours will need to be completed if you enter a plea to a first lifetime DUI. The minimums go up from there if convicted of a second, third, etc. DUI. In general, community service may be done at any nonprofit organization- 501(c)(3), as long as proper documentation is provided to show completion of hours. Typically, a log sheet, or letter stating how many hours you have completed, drawn on the organization's letterhead and signed by a representative will suffice. Before starting hours, check with my office and we will verify that the jurisdiction handling your case does, in fact, accept community service hours done prior to court, at any location. A few courts around Georgia require the service to be performed through a particular organization and will not accept hours done elsewhere. Clinical Evaluation and any Recommended Treatment- More courts are requiring all defendants convicted of a DUI to obtain a clinical evaluation from a Georgia approved evaluator. These evaluations are done in a professional setting, usually taking approximately an hour and a half, and costing between $125-$325. Additionally, if subsequent treatment is recommended, you will be required to complete whatever program is advised. In the event of a reduced plea, or a first lifetime DUI, courts have the power to waive this requirement, however, almost all courts currently require this evaluation to be completed. Furthermore, taking proactive steps and having this evaluation completed will never hurt your case from my experience with clients. To search for different approved Georgia DBHDS approved evaluators, use this link: http://www.mop.uga.edu/cetp/mop/soc.aspx.