Steps to Take After a DUI Charge In Georgia

By Frank Acotella, Esq.

Drunk driving is a serious matter in the State of Georgia. If you are convicted of a DUI charge then you could face a long list of consequences and penalties.

The Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety outlines some of the standard consequences associated with a DUI conviction in the State of Georgia which can include:

It is important that you understand how to deal with a DUI charge in order to minimize the consequences and refrain from repeating the same mistakes and getting in more trouble. Let's discuss the steps you should take if you have been charged with a DUI.

Consult With An Attorney

Navigating through a DUI charge is going to be difficult if you do so on your own. The laws are confusing and you may unknowingly do more harm to yourself than good. It is in your best interests to consult with a legal professional who understands Georgia's DUI laws. An attorney can help you understand the laws and help you prepare your case. You will probably still face a punishment for your actions, but the punishment may not be as harsh if you have an attorney on your side.

Show Up For Court

As any attorney will tell you, it is imperative that you show up to all court appearances. Your main goal in this situation is to minimize the consequences, both short and long-term, of being charged with a DUI. Therefore, you must keep in mind that if you miss a court appearance, you may be charged as guilty by default. If you are unable to keep your appointment with the court, call the court immediately and try to reschedule. Missing a court appointment tells the judge you don't care and that is not going to work in your favor.

Carry Out Your Sentence

You must abide by the judge's orders. You may be sentenced to jail or have to pay expensive fines. Another possible outcome is you could be required to perform so many hours of community service and then be on probation for a certain amount of time. Your sentence could be any combination of these. It depends on what the judge decides.

Take a DUI Risk Reduction Class

Along with your sentence, Georgia law mandates that any person charged with a DUI take a DUI risk reduction class. Therefore, you should register for a class as soon as possible. Such a program is designed to help an individual with drug and alcohol problems as well as helping them understand the risks associated with driving under the influence. If you have been charged with any of the following in Georgia, you will be required to take one of the following classes:

  • DUI
  • Drug and Alcohol Possession
  • Underage Drinking
  • Boating Under the Influence
  • Reckless Driving

In Georgia, the DUI risk reduction class is 20 hours and in some circumstances can be completed online. Costs vary depending on which company provides the class. Additional hours may be required depending on the number of DUI offenses you have. Reinstatement of your license depends on you being able to successfully complete this class. If you're working toward getting your license back, sign up for the class as soon as possible and complete it in a timely manner.

Do Not Take The Charge Lightly

Now that you know what comes with a DUI charge, do not take it lightly. From this point on, you should be determined to refrain from driving drunk. You know the problems it causes and the potential devastation that could come from it. Therefore, if you know you've had too much to drink, give the keys to someone else or take a taxi. No one's life is worth you driving drunk.


Frank Acocella Esq., leads the New York defense team. Frank fights for the rights of drivers charged with DWI, DWAI and other intoxicated driving charges throughout the State of New York.

10 Most Annoying Driving Habits

By Monica Ruechel


Here in the great city of Atlanta, we LOVE to complain about how AWFUL everyone is at driving. Atlanta drivers don’t know how to drive, they drive too fast, they’re too reckless—the list goes on and on! Believe it or not ATLiens, EVERY city across the country likes to complain about how bad their drivers are. Each state has an entire list of awful habits their drivers have. I looked at at 25 different lists of terrible driving habits to develop my OWN list of the top 10 worst driving habits people have ranked in order from bad to worse. I’m sure many of you will be able to understand how annoying each of these habits are, but how many of you will be able to admit to doing them?



  1. Hogging Middle Lane

This is exactly what it sounds like—this is when a driver gets in the middle lane of a highway and just stays there. So why is this an issue? Well, remember in your last defensive driving class where the instructor told you that the middle lane is the “sweet spot” for traveling on highways because that’s the lane for going the speed limit? That’s entirely true! But because you’re traveling in the middle lane going exactly the speed limit, you’re irritating drivers who want to go faster than the speed limit. This causes them to zigzag past you trying to rush to where they want to go. This increases the occurrences of tailgating and road rage. It’s so bad in England that they now have fines of the equivalent of $160 US dollars in place to prevent people from middle lane hogging! So yes, staying in the middle lane helps get you where you want to go in the quickest manner possible. However, it’s annoying to most drivers, who all enjoy traveling faster than the speed on those posted signs. Maybe the US needs to follow the example of the UK and put some fines in place to keep this under control!


  1. Parking Incorrectly

This is also exactly what it sounds like. This is when a driver seems to be unable to grasp the concept of parking, ranging from parking over two parking spaces to parking in a way that no one else can park around you. It doesn’t matter who you are, when you can’t park in a specific parking space because someone else is parked over it, it will drive you INSANE.


  1. Improper Merging

One thing that makes Atlanta highways notoriously awful is merging. The reason that merging is so terrible here is that no one cares that other drivers have to move, and no one knows how to do it! There are the drivers in the far-right lane that speed up when they see a car trying to merge, so drivers are unable to merge. Then, there are the drivers who have no grasp on the concept of merging. They’ll ride out the length of the merging lane and expect to glide right into the right lane. NEWS FLASH—you’re supposed to try and get into the right lane BEFORE your lane ends! If people just knew how to merge, then maybe merging in Atlanta wouldn’t be so terrible!


  1. Distracted Driving (Other than using your phone!)

When people think of “distracted driving,” their thoughts immediately jump to texting and driving. While this is an example of distracted driving, texting and driving has its own spot on this list. You know when you’re running late to work so you tie your tie or do your makeup while driving? Yeah, that’s distracted driving. Don’t forget those times you’ve eaten a snack while driving or lifted a drink to your lips, because that’s also distracted driving. Even glancing down for a second to turn down the AC or turn up the music is distracted driving.

I promise you that we’re ALL guilty of this. EVERYONE gets annoyed when the person in front of them waits a full 10 seconds before going at a green light because they’re busy checking themselves out in the mirror.


  1. Improper and Unsafe Lane Changing

Not only is “improper lane change” illegal and ticket-worthy, it’s annoying! It causes traffic as drivers dart in front of each other, forcing the drivers behind them to slow down. It causes road rage as drivers cut one another off. Then there are the drivers that just don’t have a clue as to how lane changes work by pulling in a lane ending up almost on top of another driver’s bumper. This is something else we’re all guilty of, because sometimes we just have to change lanes quickly because we forgot our exit and cut of everyone in front of us to cross 4 lanes and exit before the exit lane disappears, but that doesn’t change the fact that it drives others insane.


  1. Hogging Left Lane

PSA: the left lane is NOT the fast lane—it’s the passing lane. You’re only supposed to use it if you want to pass a car that’s in the right or middle lane rather than ride it for the duration of your time on the interstate. Just like when someone hogs the middle lane, hogging the left lane can incite road rage in other drivers. It causes other drivers to use the right lane as a passing lane, which is more dangerous since that lane is moving far slower. Drivers, save us all the hassle and use the “fast lane” to pass other drivers instead of your personal express lane.


  1. Using Phone While Driving

Remember how I said that texting while driving is its own point on this list? That would be because this irritates people more than every other form of distracted driving. EVERYONE uses their phone while driving, either to make calls, locate an address, change the music, or send a quick text or Snapchat to their friend. We’ve all been guilty of this one at some point, and are even guiltier of being angry at the driver who drifts within their lane because they need to check their most recent notification or the other driver who has to drive 10 mph below the speed limit because they have to finish sending the text they started typing at the last red light.


  1. Not Following the Speed Limit

If you’re like me, you hate the drivers that drive so far under the speed limit that a turtle could beat them in a race and the drivers that drive so far above the speed limit that they could take off for outer space in any minute. Yes, the speed limit is there for a reason. No, none of us ever follow the speed limit perfectly. But for the sake of other drivers who a) want to get to work on time and b) want to get to work without getting killed by a reckless driver, let’s all pay closer attention to the speed limit and try not to kill the guy who just cut you off going 20 mph over the speed limit or the other guy who’s obviously not in a hurry to get anywhere going 20 mph under the speed limit.


  1. Tailgating

Tailgating: a more appropriate word for what most of us call “riding a**.” This is probably one of the most irritating things that drivers do, even though we all do it occasionally when the turtle mentioned in the previous point decides to drive a car. Not only is it annoying when someone is riding your bumper for miles, it’s dangerous too. I mean, what if someone turns rapidly in front of you and you have to slam on the brakes? The person tailgating you will end up rear-ending you immediately! The practice of tailgating is both unsafe an irritating. Rather than riding someone’s bumper because they drive too slowly, use the left-hand passing lane that we talked about earlier! 


  1. Not Using Turn Signals Properly

The number one thing on my list of annoying driving habits would be my BIGGEST pet peeve: not using turn signals properly. I can’t stand it when people drive for miles with their turn signal on, use their turn signal when they’ve already changed lines, or just don’t use their turn signal at all. It’s not like it takes immense effort to use a turn signal! I flip the lever in less than half a second with a flick of my pinky. Just turn it on when you need to and make sure it’s turned off when you don’t need it to follow the laws and let other drivers know where you’re going. You’ll end up saving lives this way since everyone will know where you’re going and since no one will want to kill you for not using your blinker.


So there you have it! These are the top 10 most annoying driving habits as determined by 1 ACT Driving Schools. Remember that most of these things are ticket-worthy and will add points to your driver’s license, so if you want to eliminate those points or potentially reduce your ticket fines, sign up for a defensive driving class with us here! We would love to have you.


Which of the 10 most annoying driving habits are YOU most guilty of? Answer in the poll to the right, and see how your habits compare to others'!

Locking Down Your License if You have a DUI

By Monica Ruechel

If you are a first-time DUI offender in the state of Georgia, I have some good news and some bad news for you.

Good news: A newly proposed law says that you don’t have to get your driver’s license suspended if you get a DUI!

Bad news: To avoid getting your license suspended, you’ll need to use an ignition interlock device on your car.

What is an ignition interlock device? An ignition interlock device is a device that is installed in a car that requires you to blow into a Breathalyzer before it will start. If you blow below whatever the legal limit, the car will start. You’ll have to blow randomly throughout the drive to ensure that you don't drive while intoxicated. If you at any point blow over the legal limit, the device will log that entry and an alarm will sound until you turn the car off and provide a clean sample. If you blow over the legal limit, the car will not start and will stay off for a set period of time. It’s very handy!

Building off of House Bill 205, this new allows you to receive an “Ignition Interlock Device Limited Permit." This means that you can still drive to specified places! Of course, it isn’t as easy as it seems. To get that Ignition Interlock Device Limited Permit:

Application for the permit must be made with DDS within 30 days of the person being served notice of the ALS by the arresting officer through the DS-1205 form, or—in the event of a DS-1205S form—within 30 days of receiving such notice of the ALS from DDS; The ALS cannot stem from a motor vehicle accident involving fatalities or serious injuries; The person must be licensed in Georgia and not have any other suspensions, cancellations, or revocations against his or her Georgia driver’s license; If the person holds a Georgia commercial driver’s license (CDL), he or she must downgrade to a non-commercial Georgia driver’s license in order to obtain and maintain the permit; The person cannot have any prior convictions for DUI in the 5-year period preceding application for the permit; The person must surrender his or her Georgia driver’s license, either to the arresting officer at time of arrest or to DDS prior to issuance of the permit; and, The person must pay a $25.00 permit fee (

The length of time that you must keep the device in your car ranges from 4-12 months. This is determined by whether you consent to the chemical test requested by the officer upon your arrest. If you consented to the chemical test, you must keep the device for 4 months. It can be removed early and if you are acquitted of the charge or the charge is dismissed. If you didn’t consent to chemical tests, you must have the device installed for 12 months. The device cannot be removed early if you are acquitted or the charge is dismissed.

That sounds like a pretty good deal! What could possibly be the downside to this? How is this “bad news”?

As I said, the good news is that you won’t lose your license. The reason this ignition interlock device isn’t entirely good news is that while it seems like an easy way out, it isn’t. It doesn’t absolve you of the fees or conditions associated with the licensure part of your DUI charge.

Think about it: you must be entirely compliant with the restrictions or else the device will be removed and you’ll lose your driving privileges. If you blow a 0.01 because you rinsed your mouth with mouthwash after breakfast, you probably won’t be arriving at work on time that morning. Your probation officer will think you're drinking! Being seen as “non-compliant” does you NO favors in the justice system.

Then, there’s the $25 fee for the Ignition Interlock Limited Permit. After you get that permit, you have to pay $100 to get the device installed in your car. The fees don’t stop there. You have to pay somewhere between $60-$80 per month in device rental, monitoring, and device calibration fees. That’s between $240-$960 in extra fees depending on the period of time you have the device installed. THEN, it’ll cost you between $90-$100 to get the device REMOVED from your car. On top of that, there may be a reinstatement fee for your driver's license. You’ll be spending between $455-$1,193 total throughout the process of having an Ignition Interlock Limited Permit.

Obviously, there’s a massive downside to not losing your driver’s license after your first DUI, hence the “bad news” comment. BUT there’s more good news!

Good news: The ignition interlock device will make your post-DUI life SIGNIFICANTLY easier.

Think about it—your life isn’t going to drastically change like it does when you lose your driver’s license. You can get yourself from point A to point B. You don't have to rely on alternative methods of transportation. You don’t have to wait a year to get your license back. You don’t have to pay $250 to reinstate your license after that time is up. You don’t have to spend a fortune on transportation when friends and family can’t give you a ride. Even though bus fares are low and Uber is easy, all those fees add up! You’ll end up paying significantly more money if you decide to have your license suspended than you would if you opted for the Ignition Interlock Limited Permit.

This new law is good news for everyone. Now, you don’t have to put your entire life on hold if you get your first DUI. It gives you the opportunity to go about your day as you always did—it’s a second chance in a way. Of course, this law changes nothing about the punishment for your second or third DUI, but if you just get one DUI, you can get through it without making drastic changes to your routine or making your wallet cry tears of pain. Even with this new change, I would recommend that you avoid getting your first DUI altogether so that you don’t have to worry about losing your license or having an ignition interlock device on your car.

Teen Drivers—Why You Should Fear Them This Summer

By Monica Ruechel

Summer: the time known for sun, fun, and AAA’s 100 Deadliest Days. Wait, what?! Atlanta drivers beware—the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is the time in which the number of deadly teen car accidents gets significantly higher than at any point in the year. In an article published by the WSAV Staff, Jennifer Ryan from AAA says the number of deadly teen car crashes increases about 15% during these 100 days.

What is the reason for this increase? Ryan says that there is a combination of reasons rather than just one. First, there are more teen drivers on the road. Teens are no longer spending seven hours sitting in classrooms, so they have more free time to drive around during the day. Teen drivers are already 3 times more likely than drivers of other ages to be involved in fatal traffic accidents, so if you increase the number of teen drivers on the road it makes sense that the number of teen accidents increases as well.

Of course, this is not the only factor causing the spike in teen accidents. According to AAA, “speed, seat belts, and distractions are the three most common factors in deadly teen car accidents” (WSAV). The “speed” factor makes sense because the faster you drive, the harder the impact will be if you were to crash into something. That’s elementary physics.

However, speeding is the cause of only 30% of fatal teen car crashes. The next factor is not wearing a seatbelt. If you think about what it’s like to be in a car, any sudden jerk can send your body moving forwards even with a seatbelt. If you have a seatbelt on when you are in an accident, you’re less likely to go flying through your windshield and be severely injured. As of 2015, 60% of teens killed in car accidents were not wearing their seat belts.

However, this is not the primary factor. Distractions are the primary cause of teen accidents which makes sense because teens are addicted to their smart phones and like to pay attention to those phones even when you’re driving. BUT WAIT—Ryan says that cell phones are NOT the primary distraction for teen drivers. The primary distraction is having a passenger in the car—cell phones are only the second cause of distractions! Distractions are the cause of about 60% of teen car accidents. Combine all of these factors with the increase in the number of teen drivers on the road and you have the perfect recipe for a spike in teen accidents.

This would be the moment in the conversation about teens driving that the family comedian would say that since the teens are driving, it’s time to stay off the roads! This is the easiest solution to decreasing the number of teens involved in car accidents. If fewer people are on the roads, there will be fewer accidents!

However, because that option is literally impossible, there are other ways we can work to lessen the blow of the 100 Deadliest Days. As a driving school, 1 ACT Driving Schools will do our part and teach your teen how to be safe on the road through our driving lessons.

Unfortunately, our role stops there. Parents, it’s up to you to teach your teens how to be responsible drivers. When you teach them how to drive, stress the importance of driving laws in keeping themselves safe. When you drive with them in the car, practice good driving habits as well. If they see you texting while driving or going 10 miles per hour over the speed limit at all times, they will think these behaviors are okay. Establish rules with your teens about having passengers in the car. If you buy them a car, go the extra mile and set up a system that alerts you if they don’t buckle up or if they drive too fast. Do whatever you need to do to keep your teen safe, especially as they take on the open road this summer.

Parents, remember that the safety of your teen driver starts with you.  Do your part to make the 100 Deadliest Days a little bit less deadly.

For the full WSAV article:

DUIs Dropping: Are Uber and Lyft the Culprit?

By Monica Ruechel

Attendance in DUI classes across the state has been dropping significantly over the past couple of years. Our school used to average between 15-20 people per class and now we’re lucky if we reach double digits at all. At first, we worried that it was an issue with us, but after talking to other DUI school owners, we realized that this is a common phenomenon across the state. Fewer people enrolled in DUI classes must mean that fewer people are getting DUIs because fewer people are driving under the influence.

We all speculated as to what the cause could be for this phenomenon, and the most common speculation was that the availability of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are eliminating the number of people getting behind the wheel while under the influence. Apparently, this speculation is shared by many, including Channel 2 Action News’s investigative reporter Richard Belcher. Belcher reported his speculations and his findings in an article titled “DUIs in Georgia drop nearly reason why might surprise you.”

As I just mentioned, Belcher attributed the drop in the number of DUI convictions to the ease of finding a designated driver at the tap of a finger on a smart phone screen. Instead of having to hail or call a taxi, all you have to do now is open your preferred ride-sharing app, tap a few different things, and a driver will pick you up within minute.

Belcher sat down with Mike Hawkins, a local DUI defense lawyer, to prove his theory. While Hawkins acknowledged the role of Uber and Lyft in the decrease in DUI arrests, he said that ride-sharing services are NOT the deciding factor; rather, the deciding factor is that the city of Atlanta is focusing its attention elsewhere. Atlanta used to have a unit dedicated to enforcing traffic laws, but this unit was essentially disbanded and its responsibilities transferred to all field officers. After this change, the number of DUI arrests in Atlanta dropped 26%. With fewer officers dedicated to solely looking for people driving under the influence, fewer people are getting arrested for driving under the influence.

Atlanta Police Department’s Deputy Chief Jeff Glazier confirmed this in his conversation with Belcher. He said that the department is allocating resources differently to focus on more pressing issues, ranging from the recent collapse of I-85 to the recent increase in violent crime. Harris Blackwood, spokesperson for the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, said that this is occurring statewide. Police departments all over Georgia are allocating their resources differently, indirectly taking the focus off DUIs. Furthermore, there are fewer police officers in the state than there have been in the past, meaning there are fewer available resources to allocate. If we had a plethora of police officers, having units dedicated to catching people driving under the influence would be no problem.

So there you have it. We’re wrong in believing that Uber and Lyft are reducing the number of people that are driving under the influence and we know this because there are more DUI related traffic accidents now than there have been in previous years. The number of people driving under the influence is not decreasing—it’s the number of DUI arrests that is decreasing. While it feels great to know that business isn’t slow because of anything we’re doing wrong, we would rather have fewer students because people are choosing to take Uber or have a designated driver instead of driving under the influence than have fewer students because fewer people are getting caught diving under the influence. Take advantage of services like Uber and Lyft so that you can protect yourself and others from DUI-related incidences. Let Uber and Lyft be the culprit in reducing the number of DUIs—order yourself a ride and let’s keep those numbers dropping!

Click the following link for Richard Belcher’s full article:

Written by: Monica Ruechel