DUI Litigation Process

Being charged with a DUI/DWI in Georgia can be an intimidating experience. You may have a lot of questions about what happens next and how this will affect the rest of your life. What happens at your court appearance? Will you serve jail time? This may be a stressful time for you. Having answers to some of your questions may help take some of that stress away.

Having an attorney on your side with previous experience on the other side of the table can be the best tool you have in defending a DUI/DWI charge. DWI defense attorney Phil Pilgrim, a partner at Carter Pilgrim, previously served as the Senior Assistant Solicitor-General in a courtroom that prosecuted over 4000 DUI and BUI cases a year. Prosecuting cases for the State of Georgia afforded him the ability to learn the other team’s playbook and try more cases in 4 years than most attorneys do throughout their careers. At CPS, our attorneys have the experience you need to get the best possible outcome and the compassion to make the process as painless as possible.

The DUI/DWI Process

The Arrest

After being pulled over and the officer determines that a field sobriety test is appropriate to confirm a suspected DUI, you may be asked to submit to a blood or breath test. If there is enough evidence to satisfy the officer that you have been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be taken to jail and issued a citation. The DA or Solicitor General may begin a case against you at this time as well. You may be released on a bond until your trial date.

Contesting Driving License Suspension

If you are arrested for a DUI, your driver’s license may be suspended for 120-days. If you refuse to submit to a breath, blood or urine test, that suspension can last 12-months. Following an arrest in Georgia for a DUI, you have 30-days to submit a letter appealing the suspension of your driver’s license or elect for the installation of an ignition interlock device on your car. The cost to appeal is $150. It is best to speak with an attorney about the facts of your case before you decide whether to appeal or choose an interlocking device.

Once the 30-day letter is submitted, your license remains free from suspension until you attend an ALS Hearing with the Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH). During this hearing, your DUI/DWI lawyer may fight the charges against you or negotiate a settlement agreement.

If you do submit to a breath, blood, or urine test, you may apply for a restricted license and seek reinstatement of your license after 30-days if you attend DUI school and pay a $210 fee for reinstatement.

Ignition Interlocking Devices

If you choose to have an ignition interlocking device installed in your vehicle, you must do so within 30-days of your arrest. The interlock remains installed for no less than 120-days, if you submitted to a blood, breath or urine test, or 12-months if you refused a test.


Your citation will include a court date, also called an arraignment hearing, at which you will enter an initial plea of guilt or innocence. Generally, an initial plea of not guilty will allow your DUI/DWI attorney to gather information about the charges and assess the evidence against you. Once your attorney has a good handle on the evidence, negotiations may begin if you wish to enter into a plea agreement.

Contesting the Charge

If you and your attorney believe that the evidence against you is weak or insufficient to result in a guilty verdict, the next step is drafting motions in preparation for trial. The judge will take motions, admissible evidence, and testimony into account in making a determination of your guilt or innocence. Contesting a DUI/DWI charge is a long process that could take months and requires multiple court appearances. During this time, your attorney may still work with the prosecutor to reduce or eliminate your charge.

DUI/DWI Hearings

Georgia DUI/DWI, depending on the location of your arrest, cases can be heard in any number of courts, including:

  • Municipal Court
  • Recorder’s Court
  • Probate Court
  • State Court, or
  • Superior Court

A jury of six is typically present to hear DUI/DWI cases, although it is possible to have a bench trial, where evidence is presented to and testimony heard by the judge, who decides the verdict.

DUI/DWI Defenses

During the hearing, your attorney might try to have certain evidence suppressed so that it cannot be used against you. Your attorney will also try to assert defenses, such as:

  • Failure to correctly read the implied consent warning
  • Failure to timely read the implied consent warning
  • Providing information to the arrested person that is contrary to the letter and spirit of the implied consent warning
  • Failure to read the correct warning for the DUI/DWI suspect
  • Failure to designate a breath, blood, or urine test
  • Informing the DUI/DWI suspect that it was too late to rescind refusal and agree to a test
  • Failure to accommodate a request for an independent test
  • Failure to conduct a DUI checkpoint/roadblock in a constitutional manner
  • Failure to uphold Miranda and other rights during arrest

DUI/DWI Sentences

In Georgia, DUI/DWI offenses can be either misdemeanors or felonies. Depending on your age, previous conviction and license type, if convicted, you may face penalties including:

  • Suspension or revocation of your license
  • Ignition interlocking device
  • Court fees and fines
  • Jail time
  • Community service
  • DUI school attendance
  • Increased auto insurance premiums
  • Publication of your picture in the local paper as a repeat offender

Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer

Phil Pilgrim has represented hundreds of clients in confronting their own legal issues involving driving under the influence of alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription drugs. He has tried cases in a majority of the counties in North Georgia and is ready to give you the representation you expect and deserve. Contact our office today if you have been charged with a DUI. Time is of the essence.