May 2011

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Sheriff Jeff Mann Receives Popular Vote in Dekalb County Runoff Scheduled for July 22

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“DeKalb County voters will decide in July whether the unelected incumbent sheriff or the county’s former CEO will be their new sheriff.

Incumbent Jeff Mann, appointed in March, took an early lead over former CEO Vernon Jones but never managed to capture the 50 percent plus-one needed to avoid a runoff in the eight-candidate race, according to preliminary results releasted late Tuesday. With all but two of the county’s 189 precincts reporting, it appeared impossible for third-place candidate, Atlanta Police Sgt. Melvin Mitchell, to make it to the July 22 election.

“This was always a race between Jones and an incumbent who was not elected,” said Steve Anthony, the former head of the Democratic Party of Georgia who now teaches politics at Georgia State University. “The real race will be the runoff.”

Jones was the most well-known candidate in the crowded sheriff field and also reported the most flush campaign account. His campaign disclosures filed with the DeKalb Elections Office showed he collected $96,620, including $25,000 he lent to his campaign. Mann reported the second-largest collections, of $72,358.

DeKalb’s cloud of scandal over several other elected offices did not appear to drive residents to the polls. DeKalb election chief Maxine Daniels said turnout was just under 20 percent of the county’s 390,000 active voters.

Precincts in south DeKalb, Jones’ traditional stronghold, reported being busy when polls first opened and appeared to support his return to office. Precincts in central and north DeKalb appeared to be more steady throughout the day with northern precincts voting heavily in favor of Mann.”

Habitual Violator

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In Georgia to have a status as a Habitual Violator (HV) you have to be arrested and convicted of three serious driving offenses in a five year period. Once you have HV status, your regular driver’s license will be suspended for five years.
A serious driving offense is a DUI, but it also includes offenses like hit and run, racing, and using an automobile in the commission of any felony.
To qualify for the five year suspension, all of the arrests have to be within the five years. This is different than the dates of the convictions
The state is required to notify you of your HV status. In the worst cases prosecuted in Georgia a certified letter delivered to your last known address has been found to be enough proof at trial if it goes unchallenged by the Defense. See King v. State, 246 Ga. 644 (1980). This is considered to be valid notice. There is a strong argument that this is in violation of your right to Due Process under the Georgia and United States Constitution, but has not been considered by Georgia’s Supreme Court. The constitutional error is that the Defendant has to prove he did not receive the notice. It should always be the State’s job to prove you guilty on every element of a crime.
If you think you have been convicted of three serious traffic offenses in five years, you should check to be sure you do not have an HV status.
Once you have an HV status you will not be able to get a driver’s license for two years. It is very important that upon notice of your HV status that you give the Department of Driver Services (DDS) either your license or an affidavit of a lost license. The two year clock during which time you cannot get a driver’s license does not start running until they receive this.
After the two years, you may be able to get a probationary license that will last for the other three years.
If you are caught operating a vehicle while having an HV status and without a probationary license, you may be guilty of a felony and get a fine of $750.00 and potentially spend five years in jail. Also, operating a vehicle is slightly different than driving. Sitting in the driver’s seat with the engine on is operating the vehicle.
If you have an HV status because you got three DUI convictions in five years and you are caught operating a vehicle without a probationary license, your vehicle may be forfeited to the state. You may also get a $1,000 fine and potentially five years in jail.
Once you have your probationary license, the penalties that you receive are different than those that you received before you got the probationary license. If you are operating the vehicle outside the terms of your license, you may be charged with a misdemeanor.
If you are convicted of a DUI or a serious traffic offense of the kind that got you into HV status in the first place while you have a probationary license, you may be convicted of a felony and you could get five years in prison and a $1,000 fine. Also your probationary license may be revoked and you may not be able to get your license back until two years from the new offense or five years from the original revocation, whichever is longer.
After the five year suspension has expired, if you have not gotten your license reinstated properly you may still be charged with a misdemeanor for operating a vehicle.
At the end of five years, you can apply for a new driver’s license and your full driving privileges will be restored. To be sure that your HV case is resolved in the best way possible and that you don’t lose your driving privileges for any longer than necessary, it is best to hire an attorney to help you with this situation.