Ask Mickey Roberts: What is the Definition of a Serious Injury?

If you are involved in an accident and charged with either Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Reckless Driving, and because of that driving, you cause another person to suffer serious injury, you could be charged with a felony, punishable with imprisonment anywhere from 3 to 15 years.

Serious injury by vehicle is one of two types of DUI cases which can be a felony case, with the other being vehicular homicide.

What is the definition of a “serious injury?”  A serious injury is “when another is deprived of a member of his body, by rendering a member of his body useless, by seriously disfiguring his body or a member thereof, or by causing organic brain damage which renders the body or any member thereof useless.”

Here are some examples of Serious Injury by Vehicle from actual Georgia auto accident cases:

  1. Broken bone(s), even a little toe!
  2. Stitches
  3. Losing vision in an eye
  4. Losing hearing
  5. Contusion of the brain
  6. Leg injury which resulted in temporary use
  7. Facial lacerations
  8. Disfigurement from surgery

 

Anytime you are involved in an accident involving another person, and you are charged with DUI or reckless driving, it is IMPORTANT that you hire an experienced traffic lawyer immediately.  There are many things which must be done soon after the accident, like notifying your insurance company, finding out the extent of any possible injuries to the other party, and obtaining copies of the police accident and incident reports. In addition, many times I will go ahead and hire an accident reconstructionist so that he can evaluate the accident site and evidence immediately.

A felony conviction can be devastating. The likelihood of not only prison time but also the disabilities that go along with such a conviction call for an aggressive, well-planned defense.

If you find yourself facing such a situation, please call me, Mickey G. Roberts, PC, immediately!

So You Got a Ticket Out of State: What You Need to Know

Summertime usually means traveling to the beach or mountains or lake. If you are planning on driving out of the state this summer, here are some scenarios to think about:

  1. Your teenager gets an out-of-state speeding ticket in Gulfshores, Alabama. How does that affect his/her license in GA?

If the speed is high enough that it would suspend the license in Georgia, then the Georgia license will eventually be suspended. If the offense is one that would suspend the license in Alabama, then the Georgia license will also eventually be suspended, and your teen will have to reinstate driving privileges in Alabama BEFORE getting their Georgia license reinstated.

  1. You get a DUI in Florida, and you have a Georgia license.

If you are convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Florida, your Georgia license will be suspended. You will NOT be able to get a limited permit to drive to work, and you will only be able to get license reinstatement in Georgia once you have satisfied Florida’s reinstatement provisions.

  1. You receive a ticket out of state which can suspend a driver’s license either in the other state or Georgia.

Your Georgia license will be suspended and you will not be able to get Georgia license reinstatement until you have satisfied all the issuing state’s reinstatement procedures.

For some reason, many folks think that an out of state ticket has no bearing on their GA license. Unfortunately, this is not accurate. Therefore, you should call or email me, Mickey Roberts, PC, if you or your family member receives a ticket out of state.

Georgia Drivers Have a New Way to Be Haunted by Prior DUIs

There are many reasons why a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) conviction can be disastrous. Besides the immediate consequences of license suspension, jail, probation, community service, etc., a DUI conviction ALWAYS stays on your driving and arrest records. While some drivers already know that a prior DUI conviction can result in a harsher sentence for any future DUIs, there is another, lesser-known reason why you don’t want a DUI conviction: if you are arrested for a subsequent DUI, the prior DUI conviction MAY be introduced into evidence at trial against you.

Georgia is one of the few states (potentially the only state) that allow such evidence, which used to be known as “similar transaction evidence”. That is because a prior criminal conviction generally is only admissible to show motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.  And since DUI is not a crime where someone specifically intends to drive while impaired, (unlike, say, a crime spree where someone robs several banks), most states have ruled that prior DUIs are just not relevant to a current DUI charge.

Oh, but not Georgia, where the Constitution seems to apply to every citizen except those charged with DUI!  In the recent case of State v. Jones, decided on June 1, 2015, the Georgia Supreme Court held that prior “other acts” evidence (the new name for “similar transaction evidence”) IS admissible for the purpose of showing a general intent to drive while either impaired or over the legal blood alcohol limit.

So, when charged with a first time Georgia DUI offense, it’s wise to hire an experienced traffic attorney specializing in DUI defense to try to fight that charge as aggressively as possible in hopes of avoiding a conviction, because if convicted, the DUI stays on your record forever and can come back to haunt you should you ever receive another DUI arrest.

Fast Facts about Alcohol

When many people hear about DUI charges, they often have the misconception that only heavy drinkers need to be concerned about the possibility of one day facing a DUI charge. However, any driver can be forced to defend themselves against an accusation of a DUI. Throughout my 35 years of legal experience, I’ve noticed that many DUIs are the result of a simple lack of information, whether it’s a misunderstanding about how much of an effect alcohol can have on the brain, or an underestimate about the dangers of driving drunk. To help Georgia drivers develop a better understanding of alcohol and its effects, I’ve compiled some quick facts and statistics that can help you become a safer driver.

facts about alcohol consumption

There’s no question that drinking and driving can have real and powerful consequences. But similarly, drunk drivers aren’t the only ones who find themselves in defense against a DUI charge. The best step any driver can take is to be knowledgeable about their rights. To learn more about your rights as a Georgia driver, explore my website or join me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, or contact me to schedule an appointment regarding you DUI or traffic law case.

Justice for Auto Accident Injuries

As anyone who has had the misfortune of personal experience knows, automobile accidents are difficult for everyone involved. However, for those who are seriously injured in an accident, this difficulty can come in the form of a lifetime of physical and financial challenges. Fortunately, no one needs to fight these battles alone. As an experienced Georgia traffic attorney, I can defend you and help you get the assistance and justice you need in order to deal with a severe injury.

auto-accident-injury-lawyer-gwinnett-gaWhat kinds of auto accident cases can you handle?
Alongside a top notch personal injury attorney,  we can handle accidents involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, and commercial vehicles, including accidents that have resulted in wrongful death or severe injuries like spinal cord and nerve damage, fractures, and disfigurement. The only way to know the outlook for your case and whether I can help is to call me to set up a free legal consultation.

What steps should I take if I’m injured in a car accident?
The key to a personal injury case is documentation. Seek medical evaluation as soon as possible, get a second opinion if you aren’t satisfied with the initial assessment, and document as much information as you can. For example, keep track of the dates and times when you visited doctors, as well as the doctors’ names and contact information, and keep all relevant receipts and reports. It is also important to contact me as soon as possible, so that I can advise you throughout the process.

What if I can’t afford a lawyer?
One of my core beliefs is that no one should need to shoulder the financial burden of a long-term injury simply because they were not in a financially strong situation at the time of the accident. As a result, most auto accident personal injury cases operate on a contingency basis. In other words, the client does not owe legal fees unless we are able to recover money for them. Whether it’s working toward giving injured auto accident victims the assistance they need or defending Georgia drivers against charges that violate their rights, my passion is providing support for drivers in metro Atlanta, including Gwinnett County and other surrounding areas. For daily legal tips and updates about the services I offer, visit the Mickey Roberts, P.C. Facebook page, Google+ page, or Twitter profile.

What You Need to Know about DUI Involving Drugs

While many people immediately think of a DUI as being alcohol-related, the charge also applies to driving under the influence of drugs. A DUI involving drugs can be much more complicated than a DUI involving alcohol, so to help Georgia drivers be more knowledgeable about the laws that apply to them, I’ve broken down the information that you need to know about DUIs involving drugs.

Defining DUI Involving Drugs
Essentially, a DUI involving drugs means that the driver’s abilities are impaired due to the use of illegal substances, such as marijuana, cocaine, or heroin. However, this can also include substances that are themselves legal but are being used in an illegal or unsafe way. For example, a person can be arrested for DUI of drugs if they are driving under the influence of certain prescription drugs, even if their prescription is valid, or if they have inhaled glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapors.

In Georgia,  there are 2 types of DUI drugs: 1) the driver has consumed marijuana or a prescription drug, and was rendered incapable of driving safely, or 2) the driver has consumed an illegal drug, such as heroin, or has consumed a drug for which the person does not have a prescription. This can make the law tricky, because some substances like marijuana can be detected in urine as long as a month after use, and because there is not a legal limit—a driver can be arrested for DUI if any amount of an illegal drug is detected in their system.

Charges That Often Accompany DUI of Drugs
For many clients, a DUI involving drugs is accompanied by other charges. The most frequent is drug possession. According to Georgia law, a person can be charged with possession of a controlled substance if they are deemed to be in control of an illegal substance. This means that if drugs are found on an individual (such as in his or her pocket) or in the individual’s vehicle, a drug possession charge can result. The severity of a drug possession charge depends on the specific substance that was found, as well as the offender’s history. Depending on the individual circumstance, a drug possession conviction can carry extremely heavy consequences, including as much as 30 years in prison for a repeat offender, and the loss of state and federal educational funding for even a first-time offender.

Another charge that often occurs alongside DUI of drugs is the possession of drug paraphernalia—any item used for drug abuse. In other words, an individual doesn’t even need to have drugs themselves in order to find themselves with a criminal charge.

Finally, whether the DUI involves drugs or alcohol, any driver charged with DUI while transporting children under the age of fourteen will also be charged with child endangerment.

Consequences of a DUI Involving Drugs
A DUI of drugs can have significant and long-lasting repercussions. The minimum sentencing alone includes jail time, a fine, community service, completion of DUI school, and probation and a clinical evaluation for substance abuse. The minimum sentences  increase with each offense, and if the driver is also convicted of any additional charges (like drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, or child endangerment), they will be facing multiple sentences.

What to Do if Charged with a DUI of Drugs

While a DUI involving drugs is a serious matter, there are steps drivers can take to protect themselves from an unwarranted conviction. First, if stopped on suspicion of DUI, you do not have to admit to ingesting or having illegal substances. Second, do not allow yourself to be pressured into consenting to a voluntary search of your vehicle. Finally, if you do find yourself charged with a DUI involving drugs, hire a traffic attorney who is highly experienced and knowledgeable in these specific cases.

As thorough as it may sound, the information above merely scratches the surface of the intricate laws pertaining to DUIs involving drugs. To find out how I can handle your specific case, schedule an appointment with me, Mickey Roberts. In the meantime, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for daily updates and helpful tips.

What to Do if You are in a Car Accident

Would you know what to do if you were involved in an auto accident? How you handle an accident in the minutes and days following the collision can have a significant impact on its long-term repercussion. Below is a list of things that should be done, if at all possible, when any automobile accident occurs.

  1. Stay at the scene. You should never leave the scene of an accident. If you do leave the scene, especially if someone has sustained injuries or damages, you could be charged with a serious crime.
  2. Check on all drivers and passengers. Before looking at any property damage, check to make sure everyone is okay, and call for medical attention if needed.
  3. Call the police. Make sure a police report is filed, especially if there are damages or injuries, and keep all documentation of any citation the officer issues.
  4. Exchange information with other driver. Get other drivers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance information. Be cordial, BUT NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR ANYTHING. If you do, this can later be used as evidence that you were at fault for the accident.
  5. Talk to any witnesses. Ask any witnesses what they saw, and get their names, addresses, and phone numbers so that they can be reached later if necessary.
  6. Call your insurance agent. As soon as possible, call your insurance agent and let him/her know that you have been involved in an accident. Be truthful with them about the accident, because dishonesty could lead the insurance company to deny coverage.
  7. Take pictures. Be sure to photograph any damage to all vehicles involved, as well as any other relevant images (e.g., ice or debris in the road that contributed to the accident).
  8. Use caution in discussing the accident with anyone other than your attorney or insurance company. This applies even to family and friends, because what you say may later be used as evidence against you.
  9. If you are injured, contact a personal injury attorney Be sure to examine attorneys’ qualifications and hire a lawyer who is experienced specifically with personal injuries that resulted from auto accidents.
  10. Keep track of your medical bills. Documentation is crucial, so beyond medical bills, also maintain a written diary of not only your injuries, but any emotional distress you may be suffering. In addition, keep a calendar of days missed from work, and maintain a list of anything you are unable to do that you would normally do.
  11. Be wary of the other parties’ insurance companies. Don’t settle a claim or accept an offer from the other side’s insurance company without knowing for sure that you have a doctor’s prognosis. Otherwise, you have no way to knowing the extent of your injuries and the resources needed to rectify the consequences of your injury.

 

After 34 years of experience in handling auto accidents, I have first-hand knowledge that following these guidelines, as well as hiring an experienced, competent lawyer, will help to ensure that your accident is justly and properly handled, and if necessary, will aid you in receiving the maximum compensation possible.

Dollars and Cents: The Financial Consequences of a DUI Conviction Under 21

Your teens and early 20s are a thrilling time: you’re getting ready to start your “adult” life and you’re trying to start off on the right foot as a responsible adult. It may be cliché to say that what happens when you’re young can impact the rest of your life, but it’s true. DUI convictions are no exception to this rule, especially when you’re under 21.

Everyone talks about the potential consequences like jail time and having the conviction on your record, but you have another consideration to keep in mind: finances. Just how expensive can a DUI be? It can reach immeasurable levels because the financial burden comes in one hit after another:

  • Fines – This may be obvious, but DUIs under 21 can carry heavy fines, even up to $1,000 depending on your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).
  • DUI school – You may be required to complete a Risk Reduction class, also known as “DUI school.” In Georgia, enrollment in these classes cost over $350.
  • Alcohol Evaluation: You may have to attend and complete an alcohol evaluation and any treatment if recommended. Costs can be anywhere from $150 to over $2000.
  • Missed work or school – DUIs can become very time-consuming very quickly, between attorney meetings, court dates, Risk Reduction classes, and especially court-ordered community service. If you’re working, it’s likely that all these extra time commitments will cause you to miss some time at work. Or, if you’re in school full-time, you’ll likely need to miss some class time or at least some necessary study time, which can eventually result in delayed graduation.
  • Insurance premiums – Because you’re a less experienced driver, your car insurance company already considers you a riskier driver than someone who’s over the age of 21. But with a DUI conviction added to your driving record as well, their risk to insure you increases tremendously, which could cause your monthly premiums to skyrocket.
  • Transportation – A DUI conviction will result in a suspension of your driver’s license for a minimum of either 6 months or 1 year, depending on your BAC. Plus, since you’re under 21, you don’t have the opportunity for a limited permit to drive to work and school, so chances are that you’ll be relying on (and paying for) a significant amount of public transit or taxi cabs. Keep in mind, though, that if you’re responsible for car payments, the payments don’t go away just because you can’t drive the car, so you’ll end up paying your regular car payments PLUS the public transit or cab fees you’d need to pay if you didn’t own a car.
  • Future Employment– Many employers will not hire you with a DUI conviction on your record.

Clearly, there are huge financial consequences for a DUI conviction, and those consequences are even greater as a driver who’s under the age of 21. If you’re arrested and charged with a DUI, your best chance to avoid a conviction is to work with a highly skilled traffic lawyer who specializes in DUI defense. Get in touch with me, Mickey Roberts, PC, to discuss your specific case, and keep up with Mr. GA DUI on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to stay up-to-date with tips and changes in traffic law.

2014: A Year in Review with Mickey Roberts, P.C.

December is often a time when we find ourselves in a sort of hibernation mode, confining ourselves more indoors and having more time to reflect on the passing year. As we head into 2015 I myself took some time to reflect and I am thankful: 2014 was a good year for my practice. Of the 62 cases closed this year, to date, of those were “DUI cases won”, while 16 cases resulted in guilty pleas; there were no guilty verdicts this year. I was geared up to go to trial for many of my cases but as circumstance would have it, it never came to that for various reasons including several cases being resolved without the need of a judge or jury!
There were several highlights that stick out in my mind, but I would like to share just a few with you:

Case of Year: The case of the year started out as a nasty case. My client was originally charged with DUI, fleeing, obstruction, reckless driving, and numerous other minor traffic offenses. He was stopped by Ga. State Patrol, forcibly pulled from his car and tasered. His shoulder was torn from its socket when officers strongly pulled him from the ground. Using the State Troopers reports and videos against them, I was able to obtain a dismissal on all counts, EXCEPT a no contest plea to failure to maintain lane.

This case, along with the more famous recent cases involving police brutality, shows the need for every police encounter to be videotaped, both for the citizen’s protection as well as that of the police officer.

Restriction/Expungements: I had 4 clients whose arrest records were restricted from public access after I filed actions under the new restriction law. If you have been charged and fingerprinted for any reason in the past, I will look into your case at no charge to see if you are eligible for restriction.

Drug Search Cases: I also handle drug possession cases and in 2014, I had 2 cases where a felony drug charge was dismissed because the search was illegal.

As I enter my 35th year of law practice, I look forward to continuing to aggressively defend your traffic law cases. Looking ahead to 2015, I am excited to begin taking on personal injury claims again and providing even more legal representation to clients. Be on the lookout for my new website, www.mickeyroberts.com, where I will be discussing additional traffic law topics coming in 2015!!

Without you entrusting me to help with your legal concerns, my practice would not be possible and for that, I am eternally grateful. Thank you for your continued support and here’s to another great year. I wish each and every one of you a very happy and prosperous New Year!

Georgia Driver’s License: Right or Privilege?

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of driving a car for the first time by yourself as a teenage driver: you’ve completed numerous hours of driver’s ed., passed the written test and aced the driving portion – congratulations, you’re a licensed Georgia driver!  What seems like a rite of passage for individuals over 16 year of age is considered a “driver’s privilege” in the eyes of the law when licenses are issued.  This means that what the State giveth, it can also taketh, and yes, they will suspend your license for a number of reasons.  I would like to share with you five examples (of course the list isn’t limited to these five) of such reasons that can lead to a Georgia license suspension:

    Georgia Drivers License Right or Privilege

  1. DUI: driving under the influence (DUI) is one of Georgia’s most common traffic offenses.  This means that if you are pulled over by a cop, consent to field sobriety tests , and consent to a breath test that show your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over .08 grams (.02 for under 21 drivers), then you can be convicted of DUI and your license suspended for a predetermined period of time.
  2. Too many points on your driving record: certain traffic convictions carry point values.  For instance speeding ranges from 2-6 points, depending on your speed, while unlawfully passing a school bus is 6 points.  If you accumulate a certain total of points in a short period of time (it’s dependent on your age and point value assigned to a specific conviction), then your license can be suspended.
  3. Hit & run: this refers to hitting another vehicle and driving away before the accident has been reported.  This is considered a serious infraction as it implies that you consciously chose to drive off and as a result, hit and runs are considered a mandatory suspendable offense.
  4. Failure to pay child support: if you have been mandated by the courts to pay child support and fail to do so, your name is added to a state-wide certified list of all persons in violation (this list is updated monthly).  If you have accumulated over 60 days’ worth of not paying then a licensing agency/department has the right to withhold your license until payment is made.
  5. School attendance: a teenage driver under the age of 18 can have their license suspended for several reasons including, dropping out of school without graduating, having 10 or more unexcused absences in an academic year or pleading guilty to a number of offenses (such as drug or weapon possession, causing bodily harm to students/teachers, etc.).  Conduct infractions can lead to a one-year suspension or until the minor has turned 18.

As an experienced traffic and DUI lawyer, I not only defend people who have had their license suspended because of traffic offenses but I also help get license suspensions revoked.  Give me a call or contact MrGaDUI today if you have recently had your Georgia license suspended.  For more on the latest updates in DUI or traffic law, stay connected with me through my Mickey Roberts, P.C. Facebook, Twitter or Google+ page.