Cara Sprouse Rowe, Attorney at Law - Augusta Family Law and Divorce Attorney
When You Need Someone Who Knows the System

FAQ

What is driving under the influence (DUI)?

Driving under the influence is legally defined as (a) driving while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol or (b) driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher.

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What is (BAC) Blood Alcohol Concentration?

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) refers to the amount of ethyl alcohol that is present in a person’s blood stream. A person’s BAC can be determined through the administration of a breath, blood, or urine test.

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What are the legal penalties for DUI?

The maximum penalty allowed by Georgia law is up to one year in jail and a fine of $1000.oo plus all additional surcharges (kind of like taxes). The penalties for DUI convictions vary and will depend upon several factors.

If a person is convicted of first lifetime DUI, he/she may be sentenced with some jail time, fines, DUI School, community service, probation, and driver’s license suspension.In some situations, there is a possibility to get a limited work permit during the 120 suspension period.

Aggravated factors include multiple DUI prior convictions, past criminal history, and if an accident or injury was involved.

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Why Hire a DUI Attorney?

If you have been charged with DUI, it is important that you hire a skilled DUI Defense Attorney. By hiring a DUI Defense Lawyer, you ensure that your rights and best interests will remain protected throughout the criminal process.I brought to court DUI offenses for eight years as a prosecutor for the State of Georgia in the Augusta area. DUI law is complex. For instance, if you don’t appeal the Administrative License Hearing, you will have a double suspension on your license. Additionally, pleading to DUI and Child Endangerment DUI (by having a minor in the vehicle when stopped) will result in a double DUI suspension and you will be treated as two Time DUI criminal.

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What are Miranda Rights?

Once a person is placed under custodial arrest, Miranda Rights must be read to the suspect by law enforcement. Miranda Rights inform a person of his/her right to remain silent, right to an attorney, and right to have an attorney appointed to him/her. Sadly, Miranda does not have to be read in order to have Field Sobriety Tests. Miranda kicks in upon custodial arrest and usually applies to statements made during officer questioning. Custodial arrest is defined when a person does not have the right to leave not just when the suspect is handcuffed.

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Do I have the Right to an Attorney before I take the state test?

Under current Georgia Law YOU DON’T.

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Can I drive after my arrest for DUI?

If a person’s BAC is 0.08% or higher, the driver’s license will be confiscated by the Officer, and he/she will be given a temporary driver’s permit. This permit will allow the person to drive for up to 30 days or to arraignment (the initial court appearance). After the 30 day period, the person’s driving privileges will be automatically suspended. The suspension can be appealed within 10 business days after your arrest to contest the suspension of your driver’s license. If you appeal the driver’s suspension, your driving privileges will be extended to the Administrative License Hearing date usually 60 days after the arrest. If the person does not schedule a DMV Hearing, his/her driving privileges will remain suspended.

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What are Field Sobriety Tests (FST)?

Field sobriety tests (FST) are agility tests that are used by law enforcement to determine if a person is impaired by drugs and/or alcohol. If a person is believed to have been driving while under the influence, law enforcement may request that the person perform a series of field sobriety tests before deciding to make a DUI arrest.

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Can I represent myself and save on attorney fees?

Of Course, you can represent yourself. It is a constitutional right. However, it may not be in your best interest to do so and Judges do not encourage it. Beware because if you represent yourself, you will be treated in court like any other Attorney and will be compelled to file the correct motions and make the correct objections without the assistance of the court. Non-lawyers representing themselves are not given any concessions; they are expected to know the law and the Court Rules and Procedures.

Furthermore, your case is just another case number of many in the criminal system. There is pressure to resolve cases without a trial to make the system more efficient and to lessen the never ending stream of backlog cases. Prosecutors always believe the officers’ version of the events, not yours. I have had a prosecutor recently tell me, “Why do you believe your client? He is guilty”.

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What happens at the Administrative License Hearing?

The Police officer serves as a prosecutor and will present evidence against the person charged and argue why the person should not have his/her driving privileges reinstated. It is crucial that the Client’s DUI attorney cross-examine the officer and argue your case to the Administrative law judge who will make a final ruling after carefully reviewing the case facts and evidence as presented by the officer and your attorney.

If the Administrative Law Judge finds that the person is guilty, the person will lose his/her driving privileges for a set period of time. However, if the DMV representative finds that the person is not guilty, the person’s driving privileges will be reinstated. If the officer fails to appear at the hearing, your driving privileges will most likely be reinstated upon a Motion to Dismiss by your Attorney.

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Can I Represent Myself at the Administrative License Hearing?

Often times, people choose to defend themselves during their DMV Hearings. This is usually not the best idea as most people are not equipped with the training and knowledge it takes to successfully plead their case. In these cases, it is always beneficial to retain the services of a reliable DUI Defense Attorney. A DUI Defense Attorney can defend a person during his/her DMV Hearing, challenge evidence, question the arresting officer’s testimony, and also help the person obtain a hardship license. Additionally, an attorney will have the testimony of the officer recorded to be used later, if necessary, at trial in case of any inconsistency.

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How much are the court fines going to be?

The maximum penalty is $1000.00 plus additional surcharges (like taxes). It also depends on the Judge, the Court, and any aggravating factors, for instance an accident with injuries. However, the average fine is around $700.00.

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How much will hiring an attorney cost me?

Good question, but Attorney fees vary depending upon several factors, such as whether there was an accident, injuries, a prior record, and other aggravating factors. It will also depend on what services you require. For instance, a lengthy jury trial is usually more time consuming than a negotiated plea. Additionally, the Public Defender's Office can assist in appointing an attorney for indigent defendants.

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What results have you obtained for your clients?

No one can guarantee any results. Every case is treated individually. However, these are a few of my cases:

  1. A DUI charge after a one car accident with a passenger and a child. The driver blew a .16 (twice the legal limit) on both breath tests. The driver also held a Commercial Driver’s License, so that even a reduction in the charges to a Reckless Driving would suspend the CDL and the driver would lose his employment. The driver originally was charged with:

    • DUI Child Endangerment
    • Failure to Maintain Lane
    • Speeding
    • No Seatbelt

    He pleaded to Too Fast For Conditions and Failure to Exercise Due Care, which does not carry any points for licensing purposes. All the other charges were dismissed. He was given no jail time, just probation and a $794.00 fine.

  2. A soldier with a high security clearance was charged with DUI .10 on Interstate 20 after attending a concert in Atlanta.

    The case was dismissed. No court costs.

  3. A client charged with DUI refusal.

    His case was reduced to a Reckless Driving with a fine and community service. No jail time.

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Super Speeder Violations

O.C.G.A. § 70-6-189 Super Speeder- a person convicted of speeding 75 mph or more on two lane roads or 85 mph on any roads in Georgia are subject to a $200.00 state fee in addition to any other fines or penalties imposed by local jurisdictions. Once the local court reports the speeding violation, the Department of Driver's Services is due the additional $200.00 state fee.

A Super Speeder violation doesn't add any additional points to your driver's record. The fee is paid directly to the Department of Driver's Services. The law applies to any speeding citation issued on or after January 1, 2010. If you fail to pay the additional $200.00 fee, your Georgia Driver's license will be suspended. If you are a non-resident, the suspension will be reported back to the state in which issued your license. If your license is suspended, a $50.00 state fee will be assessed when you apply to reinstate your license.

A Nolo plea will not waive the $200.00 Super Speeder fee. The $200.00 fees collected are deposited in the state general fund with the intent to fund Georgia's trauma care hospital system. For more information, please contact Attorney Cara Rowe by email or telephone.

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Cara Sprouse Rowe Cara Sprouse Rowe

Cara Sprouse Rowe, Former State Prosecutor

Cara Sprouse Rowe has focused her career in the areas of family law and criminal defense. She is one of the few attorneys that have worked in thousands of civil, criminal, motion hearings, jury trials and bench trials. Her experience in both sides of the system, prosecution and defense, has allowed her to get the best results for her clients... {Read More}