Gwinnett DUI attorney

When Cops Lie

The recent case in Gwinnett County, Georgia, involving the firing of two officers , is troubling in many ways. The incident shows why we need body cameras on all police officers in this country, and it also shows the absolute need for citizens to vigilantly record police encounters.

Sergant Michael Bongiovanni stopped Demetrius Hollins for a minor traffic violation. According to Bongiovanni’s incident report, Hollins was so uncooperative that he (Bongiovanni) tasered Hollins. A citizen witness videotaped a second officer, Robert McDonald, stomping on Hollins’ head after Hollins was lying on the ground handcuffed. McDonald was summarily fired by the Gwinnett County Police Department.

Later, a second video surfaced which showed what had actually happened before McDonald arrived on scene: Hollins was out of his car, both hands raised, when Bongiovanni punched him in the face, knocking him down. There was absolutely no justification, at least by viewing the video, that any reasonable person could say Bongiovanni acted properly. In fact, what we see is a crime, either of simple battery, but more than likely a felony of aggravated assault.

It sickens me that an officer would act this way, but more than that, it sickens me that Bongiovanni would lie in his report, not only throwing McDonald under the bus, but lying to save his own hide.

I am saddened by this incident. On the whole most Gwinnett officers are professional and do their jobs. But there are 2 really important lessons that come from this incident:

  1. Police must do a better job “policing” their own. Over his 17 year career, Bongiovanni had numerous “use of force” complaints, all of which had been dismissed by GCPD. When there are numerous use of force complaints filed by average citizens, that should be a red flag causing police supervisors to more closely scrutinize the officer.
  2. This incident once again undermines the trust we have in our police and in our criminal justice system. And when the citizenry loses trust in its institutions, the entire system is in danger of breaking down.

The Gwinnett solicitor, Rosanna Szabo, dismissed 89 cases involving arrests made by Bongiovanni and McDonald. Good for her; there is no way the officers credibility, especially Bongiovanni, would have been believed by any fair minded, reasonable juror.

In our criminal justice system, the “players”: police, judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers, all have roles to play. All are considered “officers” of the court. ALL are, and should be, held to higher ethical standards than the citizen not engaged in the criminal justice system. When any of these people act in an unethical manner, it undermines the very foundation of a fair, balanced system, and those unethical actions must be punished accordingly.

 

 

 

 

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.

Georgia to Lower the Legal Limit for Boating and Drinking

As the warmer seasons arrive, popular spots like the lake and beach fill up with families, swimmers, and boaters. With recent stories of boating accidents occurring on the lake, Georgia state legislators have discussed the existing blood alcohol limits for boaters. Currently, Georgia’s blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for boat drivers is 0.10, up 0.02 from the standard in place for driving a motor vehicle under the influence. Governor Nathan Deal and other state legislators have been pushing to lower the limit to 0.08 to match the driving law stating, “If you are too drunk to drive an automobile, you are too drunk to drive a boat.” Of course .08 is just a legal limit imposed; no studies show that a person is “drunk” at that level.mr gadui




Gwinnett traffic and DUI attorney Mickey Roberts has represented clients for traffic and DUI offenses on the road and on the water. Even though 0.02 is not a drastic change, it should remind boaters to think again. Boat accidents are just as dangerous as car accidents, and Mickey encourages boaters to understand the laws of operating a boat on a lake or river in Georgia. While we are all familiar with the fines and penalties related to a DUI conviction, a BUI (boating under the influence) conviction has the same consequences whether you are operating a small boat or a yacht.




If you are suspected of boating while intoxicated, you will be pulled over by police that patrol Georgia’s lakes and rivers. The protocol remains the same as if you were suspected of driving a car under the influence with being asked to perform field sobriety tests and/or submit to a breathalyzer test. Consequences for a BUI conviction will still include fees and possible jail time, and the ability to operate a boat is suspended. As Mickey often reminds his clients, it is important to remember the 4 simple rules when stopped by police to avoid incriminating yourself and to understand your rights as a driver.




The state House of Representatives has passed Governor Deal’s proposal, however, it is still under review from the Senate. Be sure to stay up-to-date with our blog for more traffic law news. To inquire about legal representation for DUI or other traffic offenses, contact Mr. GaDUI today. Also, connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Crackdown on Gwinnett County Texting and Driving

We’ve all heard and seen the horrifying public service announcements about the dangers of distracted driving , especially texting and driving.  While the results of not paying attention while driving can be very apparent, officers say that actually enforcing texting while driving laws is difficult.  For this reason, Gwinnett county police officers conducted a two-day undercover operation in December to catch offenders and write tickets for texting and driving.

ticketed for texting and driving in georgia




During the operation, three Gwinnett county police officers were positioned in unmarked SUVs along Pleasant Hill Road.  Upon seeing someone they thought was texting while driving, they signaled to other officers down the road to pull the car over.  During the crackdown, officers wrote 17 citations during one, 11 hour span.  Gwinnett Police Cpl. Jake Smith said in article from The Gwinnett Daily Post that these results were “pretty telling” of the problem’s prevalence. Smith said that similar operations will not happen regularly because of the man power required; however, drivers should be aware it will happen intermittently in the future.




As a Gwinnett traffic attorney with over 18 years of specialized experience representing clients for traffic offenses ranging from speeding to vehicular homicide, Mickey Roberts (MRGADUI) understands that fighting a traffic ticket can be a complex matter.  Mickey shares, “what a lot of folks don’t realize about the new texting and driving law is that you don’t need to physically be texting for police to pull you over.  According to SB360, any individual who is caught manipulating their cell phone and transferring data by texting, checking email, etc. can be cited.”




Currently, anyone who receives a texting citation also receives a $150 fine and a point on their driver’s license.  The relatively new law is still rather gray, as Corporal Smith stated in the aforementioned article about what is and isn’t allowed of driving cell users, “If you’re mounting it to the dash, or looking at it from time to time, that’s fine,” Smith said. “But you can’t be fooling with it.”




To learn more about the latest cell phone laws, visit the MRGADUI blog.  To inquire about legal representation for traffic offenses, contact Mickey G. Roberts.  You can also connect with Mickey on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

MRGADUI Receives Praise from Gwinnett DUI Client

Mr. Roberts,

I really appreciate all your time and effort. Your insight and experience with DUI law helped secure a favorable plea, and in turn helped me to make, what I feel was, the best decision given the circumstances surrounding my case.  I can’t thank you enough for that.

I mean it in the best way possible when I say… I hope I never have a need to see you again…

If any questions come up I will be sure to ask.

Thank you,

J

Teen Driving Case Success

Mickey,
Just wanted to say thank you again for everything you have done for JA on this case.  What you worked out for him is unbelievable, considering he admitted to the possession charge.  I woke up this morning relieved knowing that this issue has come to some resolve.

Now JA can move on with his life. Things for him are looking brighter. He was accepted at Kennesaw State University for spring 2011 semester and will be transferring from Perimeter.  He will be completing his education there and graduate next year with a business degree.

Thank you again for all you have done.

Sincerely,

L. A.

To learn more about Attorney Mickey Roberts (MRGADUI) and the legal services he offers to teen drivers visit his website, read his blog, or follow him on Facebook.