Each DUI lawyer in Atlanta has a different educational and forensic science training background, and every DUI specialist has developed his or her own way of handling DUI cases in the metro Atlanta courts. Reading lawyer claims of “top-rated” is merely the attorney’s own self-assessment unless the credentials line up with the boast of being the “best lawyer.” So, self-assessment attorney ratings are highly subjective or just plain false, without proven, third-party recognition from a credible, peer-reviewed lawyer rating service. There are only four such independent, research-based, or certification sources that should be reviewed for attorney ratings.
All but one of the four attorney review organizations have a fixed methodology to rank and investigate various lawyers. These companies then take surveys of REAL lawyers in a community and CHARGE NOTHING to list the best attorneys. Martindale-Hubbell is America’s oldest and best-known rating service. Atlanta DUI lawyer William C. Head has been rated at the highest possible ethical attorney rating and professional skill level in lawyer rankings for over two decades with Martindale-Hubbell. The other two peer-determined lists are Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers. Mr. Head has been one of just two DUI lawyers in Georgia listed every year since Super Lawyers was launched in 2004 in Georgia. Similarly, Best Lawyers has named Mr. Head each year since 2009 and has twice singled him out as the highest-rated DUI lawyer in Georgia, in 2012 and 2017 (based on votes from other attorneys).
The criminal offense of driving under the influence is a serious threat to the futures of many accused citizens. At stake is potential jail time (depending on prior criminal record and in some jurisdictions) a license suspension for 12 months or longer (if convicted or administratively suspended under implied consent) and a permanent, lifetime record of this misdemeanor or felony.
The likelihood of trying to proceed with no legal representation is much higher in rural Georgia or tiny municipal courts in small cities across the state. Almost 100% of those who end up putting a conviction on their records live to regret that mindless decision, as the loss of economic opportunities for jobs is later experienced.
Top DUI Lawyers in Atlanta, GA
The top DUI lawyers in Atlanta, GA all have decades of specialized DUI defense experience and have represented thousands of relieved clients that faced severe Georgia DUI penalties. Our team of drunk driving attorneys has been called in to handle the most difficult and complex cases that involved repeat felony DUIs, injuries, child endangerment, and even vehicular homicide. All of this combined experience is available to every one of our Atlanta clients, including first DUI misdemeanor cases. We take DUI defense very seriously, and our vetted list of local lawyers includes former cops and judges.
If you conducted your own internet search, asked family and friends for recommendations, and looked through the national lawyer rating services, the same three or four top Atlanta attorneys will pop up. One of these elite criminal defense lawyers is William C. Head, also known as Bubba Head. Mr. Head is nationally-known and has consistently ranked as one of the best lawyers in Atlanta DUI. A veteran attorney for over 30 years, Mr. Head has fought and won major battles in all of Atlanta’s courts, including Atlanta Municipal Court, Fulton County State Court, and Fulton County Superior Court. Mr. Head has personally selected every one of the attorneys in our directory and has known each one for years. We present only the best lawyers in Atlanta and the North Georgia area, attorneys that fight for client rights every single day.
Do I Need A Lawyer For A DUI Charge in Atlanta, Georgia?
Most defendants either hire a private lawyer or are represented by a public defender appointed by the court. However, (depending on the court location in Georgia) as many as 35% of others never retain a lawyer for their legal defense and simply take what the prosecutor offers them.
Driving under the influence is considered a crime in Georgia and DUI charges are handled in a criminal court. You have a right to represent yourself in the felony or misdemeanor court, but the complexities of DUI defense (in most cases) give a distinct advantage to the prosecutor. This is especially true if your pending case involves chemical testing of breath or blood. The numeric results of your chemical test (e.g., either from a breathalyzer known as the Intoxilyzer 9000 or from a GBI blood test) will be a key part of the prosecution that the solicitor or district attorney will be allowed to introduce as part of your case evidence.
Due to the devastating DUI penalties in Georgia that follow being convicted, the Sixth Amendment (right to legal counsel) and the 5th Amendment (due process of law) United States Constitution mandates that you be supplied with an appointed criminal defense lawyer if you cannot afford your own legal counsel.
For a couple of decades, a concept called “the two Georgias” focused on the economic and political dichotomy that had evolved from Atlanta’s meteoric growth in the past 50 years. When it comes to DUI defense, the delineation comes down to the huge number of cases involving drunken driving and drugged driving within a 25-mile radius of the State Capitol dome — about 50% of the State’s total arrests.
When arrested for DUI in Atlanta GA (or in the surrounding metro Atlanta counties), your primary objective is to look up top-rated criminal defense attorneys to help you beat the DUI case. This explains the logic of our legal team in setting up four nearby office locations near the home of searchers of phrases like “best DUI attorney Atlanta.”
How An Atlanta DUI Lawyer Can Help
After your DUI arrest, you finally made it back home and hopefully have gotten some sleep after a long and difficult night. Your mind is racing as to what to do next, and you realize your first court date may be as early as TOMORROW! Court sessions in Atlanta are held the following day at 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. if you were arrested Monday – Thursday, and on Mondays at 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. if your arrest happened over the weekend. Your first court appearance is called a DUI arraignment and will be held in Atlanta Municipal Court in front of Judge Christopher Ward. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO APPEAR IN PERSON. We will appear for you if you call us now.
State prosecutors are always busy preparing for and prosecuting DUI cases, and their first responsibility is to obtain as many convictions as possible. The State of Georgia wants drunk drivers off its roads, and that is why the Atlanta Police Department and the Georgia State Patrol have deployed DUI Task Force patrols in addition to regular police cruisers. The national blood alcohol content BAC limit for drivers 21 and over is 0.08%. But you can still get arrested for DUI with a legal alcohol limit less than 0.08% if the officer determines that you are driving less safe and are impaired. Only a highly-qualified lawyer can successfully defend against the various types of Georgia DUI charges, including misdemeanor DUI, felony DUI, DUI Less Safe, and DUI Per Se.
Your First Court Appearance: The DUI Arraignment
The Georgia DUI courtroom in which your case will be heard depends on what level of traffic offenses you are charged with (felony or misdemeanor), and in what municipality or county you were arrested. A misdemeanor DUI case will be prosecuted in Atlanta Municipal Court if you were arrested in the City of Atlanta and Fulton County. A felony DUI case will be prosecuted either in Fulton County State Court or Fulton Superior Court. The name of the court your case is assigned to will be printed on the traffic citations paperwork you received upon your release from jail.
Pre-Trial Motions Phase
An aggressive lawyer starts fighting your DUI charge the moment you hire them. The Georgia prosecutor already has a head start on building a strong case against you, and may have already reviewed the police video and arresting officer’s written notes. The prosecutor will also have breath test and blood test results in hand. So the quicker you can find a top Atlanta attorney, the better your chances of obtaining a favorable resolution of your drunk driving case.
A veteran Atlanta criminal lawyer will file timely and specific pre-trial motions to obtain as much of the police evidence the State plans to present to a judge, and possibly to a jury if you elect to have a jury trial. This DUI evidence includes:
- Portable breathalyzer test results that were obtained at the roadside
- Intoxilizer 9000 breath test results (the official test results admissible in court)
- Blood test results
- Field sobriety test results (HGN eye test, walk and turn, and one leg stand)
In Georgia, the roadside breathalyzer test that the investigating officer gave to you is only used to help the officer decide if you were driving impaired. In court the actual BAC level (for example, 0.09%) that you blew is considered “non-admissible” evidence. But the officer can still tell the judge or jury if your roadside reading was “positive” for alcohol.
If you are reading this and you have not been pulled over yet for suspected DUI, we advise you to never take this roadside breath test. If and when the officer asks you to breathe into the breathalyzer, politely refuse and just say no to this voluntary screening.
Your attorney will file the appropriate pretrial motions in your case. These include discovery motions that are used to obtain copies of all police evidence. Other pre-trial motions available are:
- Challenges to DUI checkpoint procedures
- Challenges to the legal reason you were stopped
- Timely reading of Georgia’s implied consent statement
- Adherence to proper field sobriety test procedures
Second Court Appearance: Status Update
The Atlanta Municipal Court strives diligently to have all DUI cases resolved within 180 days of your arrest. Court appearances are scheduled in a tight sequence. The next court date after your arraignment is called the status update. This is where the judge asks the prosecutor and your lawyer if they are ready to proceed. If the prosecutor has not received the police evidence in your case, the judge will reset the proceedings. If the solicitor or your attorney has not seen your arrest video or has not gotten copies of your breath test or blood test results, a reset will also be ordered.
The City of Atlanta records a lot of DUI arrests in any given month, and given all of the sporting events and vibrant nightlife happening in Atlanta year-round, the court’s docket is always full. This also means the arresting agency’s workload is always at a peak level, so it may take weeks for both sides of your case to review all of the evidence.
A status update generally occurs within 14 days of your arrest. Your lawyer’s office will email the court date and time to you early enough so you can plan your schedule. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO APPEAR IN PERSON AT YOUR STATUS UPDATE. A DrunkDrivingDefense.com DUI lawyer will cover this proceeding for you.
Remember that a day in court is truly that – a full 8-hour day. Your case may be the first called and you can be dismissed within an hour. But be prepared to sit attentively in court all day in case you are the last to go up before the judge. You or your lawyer cannot set an appointment time with the judge. The court proceedings are very fluid, and circumstances arise that can push your case late into the afternoon. Come prepared for court with snacks, but of course, wait until the judge recesses and you can go outside to eat.
Third Court Appearance: Inquiry Date
At your inquiry court date, the judge will ask if your lawyer has had a chance to view your police video in the prosecutor’s office. Your attorney is not allowed to obtain a separate copy. The video must be viewed in the prosecutor’s office. If you wish to watch the video, you have that right, and we encourage it strongly. You may not want to see yourself performing poorly on the field sobriety tests, but at this stage, you have to treat your case very objectively with no emotion. This also holds true in court. Every minute you are in court, pay close attention to the proceedings, including other people’s cases. Take notes, write down questions, and ask your lawyer anything and everything you do not understand. Be courteous and professional. When your attorney is cross-examining the arresting officer, remain alert but passive. Look confident yet concerned.
An engaged client is our best client, and your chances of a favorable resolution increase dramatically when we work together as a team. All parties – you, your Atlanta DUI attorney, and your attorney’s professional legal staff – must work together to fight and win your DUI case. Our dedicated and experienced legal staff will stay on top of every detail and will contact you when new court dates are scheduled or when new developments arise.
When you conduct a search for a top-rated Atlanta DUI lawyer, make sure you ask about the legal staff’s length of service at the firm. It is a very good sign if the average tenure is 10+ years. DUI defense is a highly-specialized legal field, and it requires veteran drunk driving attorneys and support staff who know the absolute latest case law and ever-changing Georgia DUI laws. Plus, our attorneys have worked with all of the government prosecutors and judges, and a high level of professional respect exists among this group. That is a big plus in your favor.
Final Plea Court Date
You are required to attend your final plea court date. At this session, you and your lawyer are required to either tell the court that you plan to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest to your DUI charges, or advise the judge that the prosecutor has not offered an acceptable plea bargain so far. You have several options at this point. One of them we strongly advise against is to plead guilty or no contest. Our clients do not typically “plead out” and accept the DUI penalties. Of course, our clients always have the final say in how they want to plead.
The better option is to request a jury trial in Fulton County State Court, or a bench trial in the Atlanta Municipal Court, which means your case will continue where it is. Your case will then enter the motions hearing and trial phase. A bench trial means a Municipal Court judge will decide your guilt or innocence. These types of trials have their pros and cons. If complicated legal circumstances are present, it may be better to have a judge determine the verdict because he or she is a lawyer, and thus will have a big edge in understanding over your peers. This is logical and to be expected. The downside is that in general a jury of your peers will be more sympathetic to your situation, and may take into account your family situation, your perceived remorse, and your acceptance of responsibility for your actions.
How to Find the Top DUI Attorneys in Atlanta
In the age of the Internet, research on just about anything is at your fingertips. A quick survey of monthly Internet searches for how those defendants facing criminal charges look for either “DUI attorney,” or “DUI lawyer.”
You will find that Atlanta has some of the finest criminal defense attorneys in the country because of the area’s large number of drivers and vibrant nightlife. As you sift through the choices, a few prominent criminal defense law firms will float to the top. These firms got their elite reputations through decades of hard work and skillful representation. As you click through a few attorney websites, look for credible industry ratings and professional affiliations, for example, a stellar AVVO or SuperLawyers rating. Also, read through their previous client reviews.
Next, see how many years the drunk driving attorney has specialized in DUI defense. The key word here is “specialized.” Any Georgia criminal defense attorney can handle a drunk driving case, but if these cases are few and far between, the attorney usually won’t be fully aware of the latest court rulings and Georgia case law, unless he or she is a DUI specialist. This fact can make the difference between a DUI conviction and an acquittal.
Several common modifier words are used. Interestingly, six times more Web searchers use either “best” or “top” as their modifier than the combined total of searchers that use “good,” “cheap,” or “average.” This page features three of those best lawyers, based on reliable and peer-reviewed attorney ratings.
William ‘Bubba’ Head and the two partners in his law group possess high Atlanta DUI attorney ratings. In fact, Best Lawyers in America twice named Mr. Head as its 2012 and 2017 recipient of its “Best DUI Lawyer in Atlanta” winner. In a poll of DUI lawyers in Georgia and other states, he was named the best DUI lawyer in America by the members of the National College for DUI Defense in 2003. The other two members of his law firm, Larry Kohn, and ex-police officer Cory Yager, stand out among all Georgia lawyers.
What to Look for in a Top DUI Lawyer in Atlanta
The last of the four “standards” for Atlanta DUI lawyer reviews is “Board Certification in DUI Defense”, which is an ABA-approved specialization designation. This program is exclusively overseen by NCDD.com. Certification is part of a grueling exam process, graded by top DUI attorneys in the DUI defense field of practice. Drunk driving defense is a subspecialty of criminal defense, and is highly dependent upon the forensic science aspects of driving under the influence cases.
The American Bar Association has sanctioned the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) to be the sole organization to oversee this process and to be the exclusive provider of this accolade. This organization has 2,200 members across all states in the USA. Yet everyone who wishes to be Board Certified must pass the Board Certification Test. Many have tried and failed. Many are not qualified to even take the test, because they lack the requisite number of prior trials and other contested DUI defense court matters.
Like taking a Bar exam, the DUI attorney seeking Board certification must FIRST have a sufficient number of trials and similar contested matters under his or her belt to even sit for the exam. Board certification has been in existence since 1999, and only 4 Georgia lawyers are currently board certified. William C. Head is one of these four DUI attorneys.
Avoid Incompetent or Unprofessional DUI Attorneys
If you were arrested for drunk driving in Atlanta, you may receive unsolicited offers in the mail from different criminal law attorneys. These attorneys get access to Georgia arrest records and auto-generate mail to all new defendants. While these offers are helpful, please read them carefully and then go online to further your search. An Atlanta drunk driving charge is a very serious traffic offense, and an ultimate conviction will follow you for life. Please know that over 90% of GA DUI cases end in a conviction. This is because a lot of people walk into their arraignment and simply plead guilty as charged.
The last thing you wanted to see during the week following your arrest is direct mail to your home address from the cheap DUI lawyers in Atlanta GA. Their advertisements are all telling you why you need to hire them!
The solicitations are downloaded from public records daily, and usually within 24 hours of your arrest. These are then sent to the address on your traffic ticket. You can bet that no candidates for “best DUI attorney Atlanta GA” are the ones sending you these annoying communications!
Fake Attorney Ratings and Pay-For-Credentials Services
Dozens of other “official-sounding” fake credential services with fancy seals or badges send out letters to every person with a State Board card, offering to add any lawyer to their “list” as being a “dui expert” for a periodic fee. These pay-for-badge services run from $300 to $1,000 per year. Pay and get their “badge.” A few of the DOZENS of “pay-for-credentials” companies are represented here:
Lawyers in one state, New Jersey, have been put on notice by their Supreme Court to NOT use these deceptive, fake awards. The proliferation of all these bogus, impressive-sounding organizations is deceptive to the consumer of legal services, says the high court in New Jersey:
Attorneys may “refer to such awards, honors, and accolades only when the basis for the comparison can be verified and the organization has made adequate inquiry into the fitness of the individual lawyer,” the committee said.
Get in Touch Today
Our clients never plead guilty! Too many successful DUI defenses exist to give up from the start. Before you head to court, give us a call and tell us what happened. Your first consultation is free, and you can reach us at 1-888-839-4384 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You need to act quickly because the Georgia DDS can suspend your driver’s license up to 12 months in a separate civil proceeding. We will file an appeal letter to stop this process, but we only have 10 business days to do so.