The police in Cobb County, Georgia have made arresting drunk drivers a high priority for its traffic officers. Their DUI task force is recognized as one of the best apprehension units in the state, and boasts arguably the greatest number of drunk driving arrests in Metro Atlanta area. After being arrested for DUI you need the best, most current information in order to plan an effective legal defense and keep your driver's license.
Cobb County, GA Basic DUI Information -- Who are the Judges? Who are the Prosecutors?
Under state law, Cobb County DUI cases are heard in the Cobb County State Court. Not all counties have a state court. Located in downtown Marietta, GA the court's address is: 12 East Park Square, Marietta, GA 30090.
There are presently twelve state court judges:
- Judge Eric Brewton (Phone: 770-528-8502; Fax: 770-258-8505)
- Judge Carl Bowers (Phone: 770-528-8001; Fax: (770) 528-8011)
- Judge Bridgette Campbell (Phone: 770-423-6800; Fax: 770-423-6804)
- Judge Melodie H. Clayton (Phone: 770-528-1741; Fax: 770-528-1740)
- Judge David P. Darden (Phone: 770-528-1721; Fax: 770-528-1726)
- Judge Jason B. Fincher (Phone: 770-528-1751; Fax: 770-528-1753)
- Judge Irma Glover (Phone: 770-528-1711; Fax: 1733)
- Judge Maria Golick (Phone: 770-528-1761; Fax: 770-528-1770)
- Judge Marsha S. Lake (Phone: 770-528-1771; Fax: 770-528-1774)
- Judge Toby Prodgers (Phone: 770-528-1731; Fax: 770-528-1736)
- Judge Kathryn J. Tanksley (Phone: 770-528-1701; Fax: 770-528-1710)
- Judge Henry R. Thompson (Phone: 770-528-1700; Fax: 770-528-1788)
The Cobb County Solicitor's Office
DUI offenses in Cobb County are prosecuted by the solicitor's office, led by the Solicitor General. As a full-time prosecutorial agency, the solicitor's office employs prosecutors, investigators and support staff. The solicitor's office prosecutes all Cobb County traffic, misdemeanor, and ordinance violation cases.
The decision to further investigate and prosecute a DUI case is made by the solicitor's office. A sheriff's deputy or police officer is the one who stops a car and makes the DUI arrest. But it is the prosecutor's responsibility to actually present the case in state court. The prosecutor will negotiate a plea with the defendant's attorney and, if necessary, will present evidence to a judge and jury.
What Do Prosecutors Care About?
Cobb prosecutors have a heavy workload, so the time spent on any one case can be minimal. They need to make quick decisions. There are a number of solicitors who prosecute DUI cases. The prosecutors and investigators will read the incident report from the arresting officer, watch the dash cam video (if one exists) and speak with any relevant witnesses. As Cobb County DUI lawyers, we know the solicitors look at such elements as:
- BAC (blood-alcohol content): How much alcohol is in the person's system?
- Accident: Was there an accident?
- Other DUI's: Is this a first charge, or are there priors?
- Driving History: What does the defendant's driving record look like?
- Criminal history: Has the driver been arrested in the past? What were the charges?
- Interaction with cop: How did the driver act towards the officer?
- Cooperation: Was the person cooperative or not?
Is A DUI A Felony?
A 4th offense within the last 10 years can be a felony, so can a DUI where someone is seriously injured. Felonies generally command harsher punishments (more jail time, heavier fines, etc.), as they are considered to be more serious crimes than misdemeanors. The Cobb County district attorney's prosecutes all felony charges. Most DUI charges, however, are misdemeanor offenses, and are prosecuted by the solicitor's office.
As Cobb County DUI lawyers we work closely with both the solicitor's office and the district attorney, and take pride in developing a strong rapport with our local prosecutors.
What Are The Police Looking For?
The Cobb County Sheriff, headquartered in Marietta, places a high priority on training officers to identify drunk drivers. Before stopping a vehicle, the deputy observes the car to see if it commits a traffic violation. If a driver has failed to maintain his or her lane, has gone through a red light, or is driving over the speed limit -- all typical reasons for a traffic stop -- the cop has a legal reason to stop the car. The law – specifically the Constitution -- requires that the officer have a reason to stop the car.
However, a judge can rule the stop invalid if the judge feels that the officer did not have probable cause to stop the car. The driving infraction and the pursuit are often (but not always) captured on video by the officer. The technical quality of the video can greatly differ based on such things as lighting, weather conditions and where the officer and defendant are standing.
Clues to a Driver Who Has Been Drinking or Using Drugs
Once the deputy has stopped the vehicle, he or she will try to determine if the driver has been drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or both. Police officers are trained to look for certain signs that indicate a person has been drinking or using drugs. Some of these “clues” are listed below:
- Odor of alcohol on or near the person
- Slurred or incoherent speech
- Conflicting stories of where the person is coming from or their final destination
- Lethargic responses to the officer's questions
- Inability to quickly produce a driver's license and wallet
- Disheveled appearance
- Spilled liquids in car
Best Advice: Don't Talk
During general questioning, the police officer wants potentially intoxicated drivers to admit that they have been drinking or taking drugs. Many DUIs are actually for prescription drug use, and the officer wants the driver to acknowledge that he or she takes some sort of prescription medication. Many medications, even when taken alone, can impede a driver's ability to operate a car safely. Many others will cause impairment when mixed with alcohol. Because they don't realize that a DUI case can be made against them by admitting prescription drug use, many drivers tell officers they are taking drugs such as:
- Ambien and other sleep medications
- Oxycodone HCL
A Common Police Trick (And It Works)
A common trick, which is completely legal, is for the police officer to try to get the motorist to admit he or she has been drinking by simply asking how much the driver has had to drink that night.
We've had Cobb County clients make statements like, “Just a few glasses of wine,” A bunch of beers at the games,” “Four shots of tequila, but that's it,” and “Too much.” These statements are incriminating and serve to provoke further inquiry from the cop.
As Cobb DUI attorneys we always tell our clients: the police are encouraged to make DUI arrests and by admitting alcohol or drug usage you are only helping their case.
Don't Keep Bottles, Cans or Drugs in Your Car
At a traffic stop, police are looking for bottles of alcohol, cans of beer and drugs. We are always amazed that people will leave bottles, cans and drugs just lying in the car.
While the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution protects people from illegal searches and seizures, if alcohol and drugs are left in plain view, they will be seized and are admissible as evidence against you. That means the police do not need to obtain a search warrant to grab that material.
We have seen cases where a bottle or can of alcohol has been in a car for days or even weeks and the police try to use it as evidence in a DUI case.
Other Incriminating Statements: Trick Questions
Remember this: police can try to trick you into making incriminating statements. And those statements are admissible in court. Here are some “trick” questions we have heard police officers ask:
- How many drinks did you have?
- Didn't you have a beer with your food?
- Why do I smell booze?
- Did you have any free drinks tonight?
- Are you coming from a party?
- You're driving to a liquor store, right?
- I smell pot. Have you been smoking?
- Who in the car has been smoking?
- You look drunk. How many have you had?
- Does that wrist band mean you've been drinking at a club?
- I always have a margarita when I eat Mexican food. Did you have one?
These questions are designed for you to make a statement that can be used against you in court. They are also designed for you to start talking about issues like drinking or drug usage so that the deputy can ask similar follow-up questions.
DUI Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests exist to help the police make a DUI case against you. The tests are physical exercise that a suspect is asked to perform. The police want you to take them. And since the police “grade” the test by finding “clues” of impairment, you (most likely) will not “pass.” That is, the deputy will find clues that indicate you are a less safe driver.
Cobb County police receive special training to help them administer the tests. While official-sounding and seemingly scientific, the tests are really nothing more than an unscientific measure of coordination. While someone may perform poorly due to intoxication, they may also perform poorly due to a simple lack of coordination or physical infirmity – a bad back, knee, ankle or foot.
You should not take these tests. And that's particularly true if you are injured. We have seen people “fail” simply because they are uncoordinated or because of injury. We believe that any test administered by a cop on the side of a road, often in darkness with cars travelling past at a high rate of speed, lacks reliability.
Originated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for use by law enforcement nationally, there are the 3 tests recognized as being valid:
- The eye test: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): Observing eye movement
- The walk & turn Test: Can the driver walk a straight line?
- The one leg stand test: Can the suspect keep a foot slightly elevated and count properly?
Other tests exist to try to determine intoxication, but they have not been recognized as being accurate indicators. However, if you take look badly on a test, that will certainly be used against you and it could provide incriminating evidence in court.
DUI & Marijuana
Marijuana does not have long-lasting effects. Impairment does not last for days, weeks or months, obviously. However, if you smoke or eat marijuana and get stopped by an officer, you can be charged with being under the influence of drugs (DUI drugs) if the police discover even a small amount of the substance in your urine, blood, or saliva.
When you receive your Georgia's driver's license, you must sign certain documents. Part of what you sign is an “implied consent” stipulation. That means that if you are licensed to drive in Georgia, then you implicitly agree to allow law enforcement to request a test of your breath, blood or urine if you are arrested for DUI. Thus, if you refuse these tests, you may suffer a driver's license suspension.
How Does A DUI Blood Test Work?
When a blood sample is drawn, it should be placed into a medically-certified container that includes certain chemicals. The chemicals prevent blood clotting and act to preserve the sample. Technical tests are run on the blood sample. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is responsible for the testing. The GBI lab then reports the results to the arresting police department.
Does a High BAC Level Turn a Misdemeanor into a Felony?
A high BAC level does not increase the charge from a misdemeanor into a felony. A DUI can be charged as a felony if there is a serious injury or if it is a fourth such charge within 10 years. However, simply because the blood alcohol content is high (as determined through a blood test or breath test), the charge cannot be upgraded to a felony.
A Cobb DUI Charge Can Suspend Your Driver's License
You have 10 days from the time of arrest to file an administrative appeal with the Georgia Department of Driver Services. Failure to do so can lead to a year's suspension without a permit.
If an officer takes your license he or she should provide you with a Form 1205. The 1205 issuance triggers certain events:
- that form is now your official Georgia driver's license
- it is notification of the officer's intention to suspend your driving privileges
- the document contains the officer's affirmation that he had valid grounds to arrest you for DUI
If you have a non-Georgia driver's license, the 1205 is now your valid driver's license. If, for example, you have an Alabama driver's license, the 1205 is now your license, even if you go home to Alabama. However, Alabama may issue you another license.
The ALS Hearing
An administrative license suspension hearing (ALS hearing) can be used to protect your license. The best DUI lawyers understand how to use the hearing to best help their clients, whether negotiating with the arresting officer or seeking further evidence about the stop, investigation and arrest.
If a driver fails to file a timely appeal, the ramifications can be devastating, including the complete loss of driving privileges.
An ALS hearing is presided over by an administrative law judge (ALJ) from the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings. The judge makes all legal and factual decisions because you cannot have a jury trial at the ALS level.
The Cobb County Jail
The address of the Cobb County Jail is:
1825 County Services Parkway, Marietta, GA 30060
The jail's phone number is: 770-499-4200
The Cobb County Jail opened in 1989 and encompasses about eleven acres under one roof. Following an addition in 1996, the jail has room for about 2,000 beds. The jail, which is operated by the sheriff, is a safe facility, though it is a bit over-crowded.
Cities in Cobb with Municipal Courts
Some cities in Cobb have their own municipal courts. The Sherman Law Group represents clients in municipal courts regularly. It helps very much that we have outstanding relationships with the municipal solicitors and judges. Here are some cities in Cobb with municipal courts:
- Powder Springs
What Traffic Violations Indicate Impairment to the Police?
Police are trained to spot drivers who are impaired. Here are some driving infractions that can indicate that a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol:
- Taking a wide turn
- Striking or nearly hitting another vehicle or object
- Driving off the road
- Failing to maintain lane
- Quickly accelerating or slowing down
- Driving the wrong way
- Applying the brakes too often
- Driving too closely to another car
We Are Experienced and Results-Focused Cobb County DUI Lawyers
Having worked on both the prosecution and the defense sides of the law, our experience and knowledge, along with the relationships we have built along the way, have tremendously helped our clients. You can put our knowledge and experience to work for you. Take the guess work out of your case by speaking directly with knowledgeable DUI attorneys.
For many, a DUI can be an embarrassing and devastating experience. Now is not the time to have a lawyer that is going to lecture you about your choices. What you need is a non-judgmental advocate to give you straight-forward legal advice.
As a former Senior Assistant County Attorney and an Assistant Attorney General, William H. Sherman knows how prosecutors work and he uses that knowledge every day to win cases for clients. Attorney Valerie W. Sherman has the extremely valuable experience of serving as a Magistrate Judge and as an Assistant County Attorney. They both understand what it takes to get a positive outcome.
As experienced Cobb County DUI attorneys, we can help you. Our experience, knowledge and relationships are crucial to a favorable outcome.
Call Us Now
We are pleased to offer a free case evaluation to anyone accused of DUI. Contact us immediately if you have been arrested. We are always available at 678-215-4106.