As of today, February 2nd, 2015, the warrant amnesty program for City of Atlanta has begun. This will be in effect from February 3rd, 2015 to March 27th, 2015. All active warrants issued by the City of Atlanta before November 18th, 2015 will be be canceled. If you had an active warrant out, now is the time to act and get rid of your charges. Many people with warrants want to go to the courthouse to settle their cases, but are afraid of going in for fear that they will be arrested and put in jail upon arrival. You do not necessarily have to have committed a serious crime to have a warrant issued. A common situation is “failure to appear”, which could have been caused by something as harmless as forgetting to go to court for a speeding ticket.
Luckily now is an excellent time to deal with this. For the next eight weeks, you can go to the Atlanta Municipal Courthouse at 150 Garnett Street, to settle your case. The courthouse will be open from 7:00 AM to 5:30 PM, Monday through Friday. For those who cannot make it at those times, the court will be open on Saturday, March 21st, starting at 10:00 AM, for people to seek resolutions. You can either register online or in person.
If you live out of town, and need to follow up with this by doing a “plea in abstentia”, or are uncomfortable going on your own, hiring an attorney will be the most effective way to deal with this. Attorney Andrew Lynch has much experience in dealing with this court and these warrants. Click below for additional information.
The Cost of DUI:
Most people are afraid after they have been arrested for committing a crime, like Driving Under the Influence. Our first reaction is to fear the physical penalties, such as the danger of going to jail. However, even if jail time does not come as a penalty for your DUI, there are other costs involved. Depending on who you are, these costs could be worse than jail time. Some say that it hurts the most to be hit in the wallet, and a DUI can certainly hit a wallet hard. Remember, the state loses money by putting you in jail, and nobody wants to lose money. If you get a DUI, the state can milk thousands of dollars out of you.
First Cost: Bond
Intoxicated drivers are not ever cited and allowed to go. They are arrested and physically taken to jail. They are not released from jail until bond is posted. Bond can be anywhere between $1000 and $2500, possibly significantly more. You will get all the bond money back when your case is over, regardless of the outcome, but this could be over a year. If the full bond amount is not paid, you will have to hire the services of a bail bonds company to post it for you. Bond companies typically keep between ten and fifteen percent of the bond you post as their fee.
Next Cost: The Car Impounding
The police will take your car when you are arrested for DUI. The police will likely call a local towing company to tow your car to the lot, a cost that can range from $80 to $250. The impounding lot will charge about $50 rent per day, which will add up quickly. Many impounding lots have a policy that if a car is not retrieved by its owner within 30 days for whatever reason, they are allowed to sell your car. They will keep the proceeds.
Next Cost: Fines and Court Costs
No traffic violation will result as high as a fine as a DUI fine will be. Fines in Atlanta but can be as high as $1000. This is not including court costs. Court costs are used to pay for things like bailiffs, clerks, and court transcripts. Court costs can range around half of the total fine. As of July 2012, Georgia added an automatic fifty percent surcharge to court costs. Added up, this can cost you almost two thousand dollars.
Next Cost: Probation Fees
Georgia also has passed a new law stating that probation does not end early with DUI cases. DUI defendants have to be on probation for an entire year. To make matters worse, probation can now be contracted out to supervision companies. If you are probation for a year, you will pay between 40 and 50 dollars a month. For twelve months, this can add up to $600.
Next Cost: Probation Conditions
Every person who is convicted of a DUI in Georgia must take and complete Risk Reduction Program. This is also known as DUI school. The price of DUI school is $292, and takes 20 hours to complete, which is stretched over the course of three business days. The sentence also includes alcohol evaluation counseling, which can range from $175 and $250. There are other penalties that judges can choose to impose. A judge may choose to sentence you to sit through a “victim impact panel, hosted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which runs for no less than three hours, but also costs $50. For repeat offenders, judges may sentence in-home rehabilitation.
Next Cost: Getting License Back
Getting one’s license back is of course going to cost a certain sum of money. But the real cost is attempting to live without a license in this day and age. For first offenders, time for driver license suspension is 12 months, but after taking DUI school, it can be reduced to four months (120 days). During these 120 days, you can apply for a limited permit that will allow you to travel to work, school, and emergencies, but basically nowhere else. The work permit costs $25 but the reinstatement fee is $210.
These are only the easier costs for first offenders. For DUI repeat offenders, the costs begin rapidly rising. Upon your second DUI offense, your license will be suspended for three years. You will not be able to get a permit the first 12 months. After the first year of your suspension is up, you will only be allowed to drive if you have an interlock for the next six months. An interlock is a machine that you blow into which prevents the car from starting unless you are sober. An interlock is around $60 to rent. For six months, this totals up to $360 rent, but there are also installation costs and removal costs that are not included in this. The greatest cost of all, however, is not a direct financial fine, but the general impossibility of existing in today’s world without a license. The inconvenience will know no bounds.
Next Cost: Insurance
After getting a DUI, insurance becomes the biggest monetary cost over the years. Some insurance companies will immediately kick you off their plans just for getting arrested for DUI. This is before you are even charged or convicted. If your insurance plan keeps you, it is very likely that it will double, triple, or even quadruple. For example, if your insurance is currently $1500 a year before your DUI, it will probably go up to around $3000, and maybe even as high as $6000. If you are charged with any other traffic violations, even minor ones where no one could get hurt, the insurance rates will continue to inflate and inflate.
Next Cost: Career
Although the costs mentioned thus far are direct financial penalties, there are other un-measurable financial penalties felt over time. Many careers can take a huge hit from a DUI charge. Most people with professional licenses, especial in medical, legal, or financial fields, will have to disclose their DUI charge upon renewal. Like a driving license, is likely your professional license will be suspended, or possibly even revoked. For airline pilots, it is career ending, with basically no exceptions, as the FAA will ground you. If you drive a company vehicle, and have what’s known as fleet insurance, most companies will terminate this position. It also can be a deal-breaker on new applications.
Next Cost: Time
Another cost that cannot be measured financially is the amount of time dealing with all these DUI punishments when one needs to be working. It will require you to take days and days off of work, which the company you work for may or may not decide to tolerate. You will need to have meetings with probation officers, and lawyers. You will need to be attending court dates, DUI school, alcohol counseling classes. You will need spend time doing community service, which will be forty hours (an entire 9-5 work week) for the first offense, and 240 hours (literally the equivalent of ten whole days) for the second. Basically, you will have a mountain of new financial obligations to meet because of the DUI, but the penalties of the DUI will cause you to miss the work days (and possibly terminate them completely) you need to make the money to meet all these financial penalties. It becomes a lose-lose situation.
Most Important Cost: Lawyers
Many of these costs described are the outcomes of essentially, the best-case scenario if you are found guilty. If you face these DUI charges without a good attorney, the outcomes could be far worse than described above. You will need to be willing to spend the money up front on a good attorney to avoid these severely crippling financial burdens that will come later, if you are found guilty of a DUI. The initial cost of attorney’s fees may seem like a lot, and motivate you to find a cheaper attorney. Do not make this mistake. What you do not pay now for a good attorney, you will only end up paying for later.
Attorney Andrew Lynch has years of experience handling DUI cases, if you need help call us now 404-373-7735.
DUI: Limited Driving Permit for Person’s Charged and Living in Georgia but Licensed to Drive in Another State
Recently a client came in with an out of state license but lived in Atlanta and had not switched her license over prior to being charged with DUI in the city of Decatur Municipal Court.
It was important for this client to get her license changed over to a Georgia license at our Department of Driver’s Service prior to filing a challenge to the Adminstrative License Suspension of her license. The simple fact is, once challenged Georgia’s Department of Driver’s Services would in effect freeze her license status. By getting a license from the State prior to going to court she is allowed to request a affidavit of first lifetime conviction from the court and will be eligible for a work driving permit after the her case is completed.