Experienced Felony Level DUI Attorney In Georgia

Although usually prosecuted as a misdemeanor, a felony DUI is a serious charge with major consequences to you now and in the future. A felony conviction carries with it a sentence from 1 to 5 years and you may go to prison. Your freedom, your ability to drive, and, once released from custody, your ability to get to school or work are at stake. In the future, your ability to access credit, obtain a professional license, find and keep meaningful employment are all in jeopardy. And your rights as a citizen can be curtailed. Convicted felons in Georgia lose their right to vote, to hold public office, and to own and possess firearms. 

When you’ve been charged with felony DUI in Walton County, Georgia, Michael Fulcher Law can help. Michael Fulcher Law can provide you with the best criminal defense with over 17 years of combined DUI experience as a prosecutor, public defender and private defense lawyer. 

Knowing the criminal statutes, the rules of evidence, and criminal procedure is only the beginning. Added to this knowledge base is 15 years of experience working in Greene County and the surrounding areas so that Michael Fulcher Law knows the reputations of police, prosecutors, and judges. This combination of legal savvy and experience with the players means the most skilled and competent legal defense you can find. 

You deserve skilled legal representation to rigorously defend your rights, preserve defenses, and challenge the prosecution to be fair. You need an attorney who knows the prosecutors and how to negotiate with them to a fair and reasonable resolution. If a trial is necessary, you want an experienced DUI felony criminal defense lawyer who knows how to defend a case before a judge and jury and has real courtroom experience and successes. Too much is at stake with a felony prosecution to settle for less. 

What Does the Georgia Law Say About Felony DUI?

Felony DUI encompasses a range of charges, all of them serious, with serious consequences upon conviction. 

Felony DUI includes: 

  • Fourth Georgia DUI charge in a 10-year period
  • Habitual violator 
  • Child endangerment
  • Serious injury by vehicle
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Vehicular infanticide
  • Homicide or serious injury by interference with traffic control device 

Any of these underlying charges requires a professional assessment of the strength of the prosecutor’s case, looking at the stop and arrest procedures, and analyzing the toxicology and police reports. A felony DUI conviction carries mandatory prison time and substantial fines along with a permanent place on your criminal and driving records. That’s why you need to retain a skilled and competent felony DUI defense lawyer to represent you as early in the proceedings as possible.

Let’s examine each of the possible felony DUI–related charges.

Fourth Georgia DUI Charge in a 10-Year Period: The convictions that are included in counting to a fourth DUI charge within a 10-year period only include convictions on or after July 1, 2008. Any prior convictions cannot be counted. In addition to a 10-year driver’s license suspension, with ignition interlock possible after the first 2 years of suspension, a judge can impose a sentence of 1-5 years in prison with a mandatory minimum of 90 days in county jail. Fines are between $1,000-$5,000, with additional court fees to pay for mandatory programs and even the cost of probation. Other penalties include 60 days of community service, DUI school, 5-years probation, less time served, clinical evaluation, mandatory alcohol/drug treatment, surrender of the license plates for all your registered vehicles, and publication of your photograph as a habitual violator in your local county newspaper.

Habitual Violator: is a status that attaches when anyone is convicted of a third or subsequent DUI within 5 years, or any combination of additional vehicular crimes—fleeing or attempting to elude police, racing, leaving the scene of an accident, homicide by vehicle, serious injury by vehicle, or fraudulent or fictitious use or application of a driver’s license. The status as habitual violator can attach if you are convicted of any of these three charges stemming from even a single incident. Violating the terms of your habitual violator status can result in revocation of any limited driving privileges and prison.

Sentencing is harsh with up to 5 years in prison, $1,000-$5,000 fines and additional court fees, 2-5 year license suspension, 30 days community service unless sentenced to 3 years in prison, DUI school, clinical evaluation, and up to 5-years probation, less time served. There is the possibility of installing an ignition interlock system if awarded a limited HV driving privileges once released from prison.

Child Endangerment: Arrest for DUI with children under the age of 14 in the vehicle can result in charge of both DUI and child endangerment. You can also be charged separately for child endangerment for each underage child. A single arrest, even with a clean driving record, can result in a felony charge, habitual violator status, and increased sentencing. Besides driving while impaired, child endangerment can also be charged if you have failed to fasten a child’s seat belt, neglected to use a car seat for an infant or toddler, or engaged in dangerous driving.

A conviction for felony child endangerment can mean 1-5 years in prison and a fine of $1,000-$5,000 fines and court fees. 

Serious Injury by Vehicle: An accident resulting from DUI driving that causes another person bodily harm can result in a charge of serious injury by vehicle. Serious injury means dismemberment or disfigurement, organic brain damage, loss of the use of a limb or other body part, loss of vision in one eye, 2-inch scar on the forehead, broken ribs, or severe bruising. The serious injury need not be permanent to qualify for this felony charge. In addition to the possibility of a subsequent civil suit for damages, upon conviction, you can be sentenced to 1-15 years in prison, a 3-year license suspension without an opportunity for early reinstatement, and no limited driving permit privileges.

Vehicular Homicide: a felony charge can be brought for vehicular homicide in the first degree if the driver caused the death of another person while driving recklessly or under the influence of alcohol/drugs or caused a fatal accident and left the scene. Sentencing requires 3-15 years in prison. If you had habitual violator status at the time of this arrest, at least 90 percent of any prison sentence must be served inside. A conviction also raises the specter of a civil suit for wrongful death brought by the family of the deceased.

Vehicular Feticide: If an unborn child was killed due to injuries caused to a pregnant woman or her death, resulting from DUI driving, a separate charge of vehicular feticide can be brought. A felony charge can result in a 3-15 years prison sentence.

Homicide or Serious Injury by Interference With Traffic Control Device: This felony charge involves attempting to or actually damaging or alterating an official traffic-control device, railroad signals, and signs. Sentencing is 5-20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. 

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When you need a lawyer after being charged with a DUI or criminal offense or as you explore your options for filing a personal injury claim, look no further than Michael Fulcher Law’s impressive background, and ultra-attentive client service. To learn more about how we can help you achieve the best legal solution possible for your circumstances, call our criminal defense law firm at (706) 438-1555 or contact us online, and schedule your free consultation today.

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How Can a Felony DUI Defense Attorney Help Me?

Facing a criminal prosecution for felony DUI can be a terrifying experience. A criminal defense attorney is your guide, advocate, and protector. Navigating any criminal prosecution without an attorney is so dangerous that the U.S. Constitution provides that you are entitled to representation by a lawyer if your liberty is at stake. If you can afford a lawyer, hire one. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint a public defender.

You want to hire the best criminal defense lawyer because your liberty, your reputation and your future are in jeopardy. 

A skilled and competent criminal defense attorney will:

  • Research the facts of your case as gathered by the police
  • Investigate police tactics to ensure that evidence was gathered legally 
  • Independently examine the quality of evidence against you
  • Locate and interview any witnesses
  • Hire investigators and expert witnesses, as needed 
  • Represent you in all court proceedings
  • Negotiate with the prosecutor’s office on your behalf to reduce bail, charges, and sentencing

Only a skilled and competent criminal defense lawyer has the knowledge and experience to navigate the criminal justice system, knowing how to provide you with a realistic and compassionate assessment of the quality of the case the prosecution has put together against you. 

Only a skilled and competent criminal defense lawyer knows when a plea deal is the right route. Due to public and political pressures and the backlog of cases, and overcrowded prisons, most prosecutions resolve without a jury trial, relying on plea negotiations with sentencing agreements. However, your criminal defense lawyer should have extensive trial experience so that you have the option to demand a trial before a jury of peers, as provided for in the Constitution if that is the smartest choice to make.

Michael Fulcher Law is that skilled and competent felony DUI criminal defense lawyer you can trust to bring you through investigation, indictment, arrest, and resolution. Let us help you. Call or email now for a free consultation.

What Are the Consequences of a Conviction for Felony DUI?

As you can see, the sentencing guidelines for conviction of felony DUI ensure that the consequences are devastating to you and to your family. A conviction may open you up to years of litigating any subsequent civil suit for damages or wrongful death. If there are marital struggles, a conviction can lead to divorce and loss of child custody. 

Once time has been served, putting together your life becomes extremely difficult with a permanent criminal record and its impact on access to credit, housing, employment, licensing, and education. A commercial driver’s license is lost. Automobile insurance becomes unaffordable. And if your driver’s license is ever reinstated, your driving will be forever examined for the slightest infractions.

Skilled and competent felony DUI defense lawyers are needed to fully assess your case and rigorously defend you against these serious charges. Michael Fulcher Law offers the best representation in Greene County and the surrounding counties of Morgan, Jasper, Putnam, Walton, and Taliaferro. With over 17 years of experience both prosecuting and defending these kinds of felony DUI charges, Michael Fulcher Law will assess the strength of the prosecution’s case, evaluate all of your possible defenses, and let you know what options you have moving forward. Call (706) 438-1555 or contact us online now for a free consultation. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The prosecutor must prove all the elements of each crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The role of defense counsel is to introduce doubt. Doubt can be created by cross-examining witnesses, producing contradictory evidence through independent toxicology reports and expert witnesses, and even putting on exculpatory witnesses.

No, a criminal conviction for felony DUI will never come off your criminal record. However, a DUI license suspension will age off your driving history after 7 years. But police, and the courts will always have access to your lifetime driving record, so a license suspension resulting from a felony DUI will still be considered by the court in determining any future sentencing for subsequent violations.

Because arrests are public records, your name can be published in the newspaper at any time. However, Georgia includes public shaming as part of its felony DUI punishment. If you are convicted of a felony DUI or even a second or third DUI within 5 years, you will be assessed a $25 fee, and your name, and photograph will be published in your county newspaper.

Yes, a security clearance usually has a personal conduct, and character provision that disqualifies you as a security risk upon conviction of a felony DUI or other criminal activity.

Only the State-administered breath test—the Intoxilyzer 9000—or giving a blood or urine sample at the police station are required as a condition of having a driver’s license in Georgia. You are under no legal obligation to submit to an Alco-Sensor breath test, a handheld breath test, or a field sobriety test roadside.

An Alco-Sensor breath test only measures if there is any alcohol present on your breath. It cannot measure other intoxicants besides alcohol. Getting a positive reading on an Alco-Sensor test is not evidence of intoxication, and cannot be admitted in court. Police use it as a screening method upon stopping a driver.

A handheld breath test is also unreliable because it can register different levels of alcohol depending on the depth of the breath expelled.

Field sobriety tests are also not required because the interpretations of how a driver performs are too subjective.

However, police can become hostile if you refuse to take these tests when pulled over. Many times police will immediately arrest you so that they can bring you to the station to administer the State-approved Intoxilyzer 9000 test or compel blood or urine samples. When refusing to submit to any roadside test, speak up loudly, and distinctly so that your refusal is picked up on any vehicle-mounted camera or body camera on the police officer.

The police must read you the warning that a refusal to submit to an Intoxilyzer 9000 test or blood or urine tests will result in an immediate suspension of your driver’s license with 30 days to request an ALS Hearing to appeal this action.

An Intoxilyzer 9000 test only measures the presence of alcohol. You are only required to provide two sequential breath samples for the Intoxilyzer 9000 test. If the breath samples register as adequate, the officer cannot ask you to provide more. Only if the breath sample registers as insufficient are you compelled to provide another breath sample.

If police suspect you are DUI because of taking drugs, or a combination of drugs, and alcohol, they will ask for either a urine or blood sample at the police station.

Urine tests do not reveal the quantity of controlled substances in your system, only whether the substance is present. Urine tests can measure the percentage of ethylene glycol in your system, but the test is not fully reliable. Blood tests reveal the quantity of controlled substances in your system as well as alcohol. Blood tests are considered the most reliable chemical testing option. However, blood draws need to be performed by trained professionals, which makes them less available at police stations.

Yes, the police can get the blood test results from the hospital but only with a valid warrant. The application for the warrant must state the specific reasons why the police believed you were operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination, and that the blood test results are evidence of that crime.

The vast majority of felony DUI cases do not go to trial but are resolved through plea bargaining with the prosecutor. The most successful defenses are related to the initial police stop. Police can only briefly stop you based on a particularized, and objective basis for suspected criminal activity. The initial stop cannot be based only on a hunch but on an articulable suspicion. If the initial stop was pretextual or illegal, the subsequent arrest for felony DUI will be illegal.

Suppose you refuse to take either an Alco-breath test, handheld breath test, or perform field sobriety tests. In that case, the police officer cannot merely arrest you without specific, and articulable evidence that you are driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination. Otherwise, that arrest is illegal.

These issues are litigated pretrial. Once the judge has ruled on the legality of the arrest, and the admissibility of evidence, prosecutors, and defense lawyers often sit down to negotiate a plea deal based on a mutual understanding of the limitations on what evidence remains to be admitted in any trial. There is a timetable for that negotiation. If it fails, then the case goes to trial.

The prosecutor must prove all the elements of each crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The role of defense counsel is to introduce doubt. Doubt can be created by cross-examining witnesses, producing contradictory evidence through independent toxicology reports, and expert witnesses, and even putting on exculpatory witnesses.

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“Mr. Fulcher has been tremendously helpful with my case. Since hiring him he has consistently returned my calls as quickly as he can. We discussed an ideal outcome, and I set about doing exactly as he said. Following his advice we were able to get a very favorable outcome. He is always quick to answer any questions, and has stayed very engaged with me throughout this ordeal. Michael provides excellent counsel, and I would recommend him to anyone!”

— TOM

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