Teen and Young Adult Traffic Ticket Defense in Georgia
Traffic violations are difficult to deal with no matter what age you are. Worrying about how many points it will add to your license and whether your license will be suspended are common concerns after receiving a ticket. However, these problems increase when the driver is a teen or young adult. Many traffic violations will cause a teen to have their license suspended automatically. From reckless driving to accidents, it is essential to hire a Georgia Traffic Ticket Attorney to save their license and their future. There are three different age groups to determine how many points it takes to suspend a driver's license and which offenses can suspend their license. They are 17 years and younger, 18 to 20 years old, and 21 years and older.
Lawson and Berry and their team of Teen Traffic Lawyers in Georgia have been helping young people for over 20 years. With many former prosecutors on our team, we know both sides of the law, and our experience is invaluable. We do not want a traffic violation to cause a teen to lose their job or affect their ability to get into college. That is why we work diligently to find alternative solutions to resolve the ticket instead of just pleading guilty.
At 17 Years Old You are Considered an Adult for Traffic Purposes in Georgia
Even though society may not treat you like an adult at 17, the court will view you as an adult. Instead of your case being heard in juvenile court, it will be heard in a municipal, state or superior court. Furthermore, your sentence will be the same as an adult's, and anything that goes on your criminal record will remain there permanently.
It is troubling to all of our clients that a conviction could follow them for the rest of their life. Our Georgia Teen Traffic Defense Attorneys do not want a youthful discretion to influence the rest of your life. We will work around the clock to make sure we achieve the best outcome in your case. You will have our full attention, and we will address any needs or concerns you have as a parent or teenager. That is one of the reasons why our office is open nights, weekends, and holidays. Our young adult traffic ticket defense lawyers in Georgia are here whenever you need us.
16 and 17 Year Old Drivers in Georgia Only have 4 Points Until Their License will be Suspended
Georgia drivers who are 16 and 17 years old can only accumulate 4 points until their license will be suspended for six months. The 4 points can come from a single traffic violation or from a combination of less serious offenses. Offenses for which 4 or more points are assessed on your license include unlawful passing of a school bus, excessive speeding, reckless driving, improper passing, and aggressive driving.
Many people, including attorneys, advise teenagers to use a nolo contedere plea when charged with a traffic violation in Georgia. However, the nolo plea will not always prevent points being added to your driver's license. That is just one of the reasons why it is important to consult with a traffic ticket attorney in Georgia before making any decisions. You can put your license in jeopardy when you don't do your research before court.
One of the common misconceptions we hear is that people wait until their second or subsequent ticket to try and negotiate a better outcome. This belief is flawed in many ways. It is a lot easier to convince a prosecutor to reduce a person's first ticket than it is to reduce subsequent ones. Furthermore, the reduction of the first ticket can put the driver in a better situation if they receive another ticket.
Drivers Between 18 and 20 Years of Age in Georgia
For drivers between 18 and 20 years of age, an accumulation of 15 or more points in a 24 month period will result in their license being suspended. However, a driver between 18 and 20 convicted of one of the following offenses will have their license suspended no matter how many points they have accumulated. These include
- Speeding 24 mph over the limit or more
- Aggressive driving
- Reckless driving
- Uunlawful passing of a school bus
- Improper passing on a hill or curve
In sum, drivers between 18-20 can have their license suspended two different ways. It can be suspended by accumulating more than 15 points or if they are convicted of one of the 4 point or more offenses. Because of the severe punishments young adults face, it is critical to hire a young adult traffic ticket attorney in Georgia.
It is important to understand that a nolo contendere plea will not prevent your license from being suspended. A second or subsequent conviction will result in a 12-month license suspension.To reinstate your license, you must complete a defensive driving course and pay the $210 reinstatement fee.
However, there is an alternative solution called a zero-point order. This order can be issued by the court and will result in a 20% reduction of the fine as well as no points being assessed by DDS. You must attend a driver improvement course for the violation. A zero-point order can only be accepted once every five years. Our Georgia Teenage Traffic Lawyers can advise you if you believe this applies to your case.
Teen and Young Adult Traffic Laws in Georgia
If you are under 21 years old, your license could be suspended for numerous traffic offenses. While we will cover these offenses in detail, call us to receive the best advice about your ticket. Every situation is different, and there are numerous defenses we can use to save your license.
Failure to Maintain Lane
Failure to maintain lane is a very prevalent charge and is often associated with traffic accidents. You could be charged with failing to maintain lane if you fail to stay in your designated lane and you cross over or touch the lines on the road. A conviction for failure to maintain lane in Georgia will result in 3 points being added to your license. While 3 points may not seem like much, for people under 18, any other traffic violations would result in their license being suspended because they would have accumulated 4 points. Even if one of our Georgia Teen Traffic Attorneys were able to negotiate a ticket down to a one-point violation, it would still put you at 4 points, and your license would be suspended. That is why it is crucial to not plead guilty to offenses less than 4 points because you could be setting yourself up for a license suspension later.
Racing on Highways or Streets
In Georgia, racing is a serious offense and comes with significant penalties. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-186(b) makes it illegal to drive any vehicle on a highway in any race, speed competition or contest, drag race or acceleration contest, test of physical endurance, exhibition of speed or acceleration, or for the purpose of making a speed record. The penalty for racing is severe. Fines could amount to one thousand dollars along with a potential license suspension.
Fleeing or Attempting to Elude an Officer While Driving a Motor Vehicle
A person who does not promptly stop after an officer signals them to could be charged with fleeing or attempting to elude an officer. O.C.G.A. §40-6-395(a) The officer can signal a driver by using their siren, an emergency light, their hand, or by requesting the driver to stop.
Fleeing or attempting to elude an officer can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. Generally, it is charged as a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature with a fine between $500 and $5,000 and jail time between 10 days and one year. A second or subsequent conviction within 10 years will elevate the punishment to at least 30 days in jail and a between $1,000 and $5,000.
However, the driver will be guilty of a felony if they engage in any of these actions while fleeing or attempting to elude an officer:
- Operating their vehicle in excess of 20 miles an hour above the posted speed limit;
- Striking or colliding with another vehicle or a pedestrian;
- Fleeing in traffic conditions, which place the general public at risk of receiving serious injuries;
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; or
- Leaving the state.
The driver will face a fine of $5,000 or prison between one and five years, or both.
Not Wearing a Seat Belt
Georgia law requires the driver and passengers to restrained by a seat belt. O.C.G.A. §40-8-76.1 This even applies to pickup trucks. A failure to comply with the law will result in a fine and will go on your driver's history. Although no points are assessed with this violation, it will still appear on your driving history and can make your insurance increase.
Georgia's hands-free law took effect on July 1, 2018, and banned the use of handheld devices while driving. Drivers cannot have a phone in their hand or touching any part of their body while driving. The law states that drivers are prohibited from reading, writing, or sending text messages, emails, while on the road. Furthermore, drivers are not allowed to use social media, watch videos, or record videos while driving. A first conviction for distracted driving is a $50 fine and 1 point assessed against the driver's license. A second offense will be $100 and 2 points added to their license. A third or subsequent violation will add 3 points to their driver's license and will have a $150 fine.
While 1 point seems like a minor punishment, remember that for a 17-year old who already has a 3 point ticket, this will result in their license being suspended. Every ticket matters whether you are an adult or a teen driver! That is why you should call a teen traffic lawyer in Georgia no matter what traffic offense you have been charged with.
Traffic Violations Assessed at Four Points or More
All of the following offenses are ones that if convicted, will add at least 4 points to a person's license and will suspend a person's license if they are under 21 years of age. Our teenage traffic ticket attorneys in Georgia are prepared to assist with your case no matter which offense you have been charged with.
Unlawful Passing of a School Bus
Unlawful passing of a school bus is a serious offense in Georgia. DDS assigns 6 points to this offense. According to O.C.G.A. § 40-6-163, drivers must stop for school buses that have activated the stop arm. Driver's may not pass the bus until it has resumed driving and the stop arm or lights are no longer activated. However, recent law changes have updated the law that drivers do not have to stop if there is a concrete, grass media, or a turn lane. However, we still advise that you slow down.
Improper Passing on a Hill or Curve
A person who receives a ticket for improper passing on a hill or curve will have 4 points added to their license and possibly have their license suspended. Georgia law O.C.G.A. § 40-6-45(a)(1) prohibits drivers from going into the lane of oncoming traffic to pass other vehicles when approaching a hill or curve where the driver's vision is obstructed within such distance to create a hazard in the event another vehicle might approach from the opposite direction.
Speeding is one offense where the penalties range based on the speed you are going. Most drivers receive a speeding ticket after the police officer used a speed detection device or when pacing your vehicle with their own. The most common way to gauge a vehicle's speed is by using laser or radar detection. One way our Georgia Teen Lawyers can help in your case is by challenging the reliability and validity of the device. Many times the device did not receive proper maintenance, and then the results can be inadmissible in court.O.C.G.A. § 40-6-181.
If the driver was going 24-33 mph over the speed limit, then 4 points will be added to the driver's license. If the driver was going 33 or more mph over the limit, then 6 points are added to their license. Furthermore, if under 21, their driver's license will be suspended.
Aggressive driving can manifest itself in various ways.O.C.G.A. § 40-6-397 (a) defines aggressive driving as driving “with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person.” They include overtaking and passing, improper lane change, following too closely, failing to signal, driving too slowly, and reckless driving. ” The law requires a deliberate, intentional act directed at a specific person. It is not enough that the person drives in such a manner that it is clear they have no regard for the safety of others. The person charged must have targeted his or her actions toward an individual. DDS assigns 6 points for an aggressive driving conviction, but it also comes with fines and possibly jail time. It will also result in a license suspension for drivers under 21. A person convicted of aggressive driving in Georgia will be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.
Reckless driving is defined as driving “in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property.” O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390. It can include excessive speed, following too closely, weaving through traffic, or other driving behavior that demonstrates a reckless disregard for the safety of others. Reckless driving comes with 4 points on your license. However, for driver's under the age of 21, you will lose your license.
Hit and Run or Leaving the Scene of an Accident
In the event of an accident, you are required to stop and exchange information with the parties involved. A failure to do this could result in criminal charges and even your driver's license being suspended. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270(a).
If the accident resulted in injury or death, then the driver is required to immediately stop and give their name, address, and license information to the other driver if requested. If an injury party requests assistance, the law requires drivers to render reasonable aid to the person to receive medical or surgical treatment. If an injured person is unconscious, appears deceased, or is otherwise unable to communicate, the driver must make every reasonable effort to ensure that emergency medical services and local law enforcement are contacted.
If the accident is the proximate cause of death or a serious injury, any person who knowingly failed to stop will be guilty of a felony, and the punishment will be a prison term between one and five years. However, if the accident resulted in a non-serious injury or damage to the other vehicle and the driver knowingly failed to stop, then the crime will be treated as a misdemeanor. The punishment will be a fine between $300 and $1,000, up to 12 months in jail, or both.
Alcohol-Related Offenses Resulting in License Suspensions For Under 21-Year Old Drivers
There are numerous alcohol-related charges that can result in a license suspension for people under 21 years old. They include:
- Purchasing or attempting to purchase an alcoholic beverage;
- Misrepresenting age for purpose of illegally obtaining any alcoholic beverage;
- Misrepresenting identity or using false identification for purpose of purchasing or obtaining any alcoholic beverage; or
- Possession of alcoholic beverages while operating a motor vehicle.
A conviction for any of the above alcohol-related charges will result in a six-month license suspension. However, possession of alcohol while operating a motor vehicle will be a 120-day suspension. A second or subsequent conviction will carry a twelve-month license suspension and not be eligible for a limited driving permit.
There are some exceptions to the sale, purchase, or possession of alcoholic beverages. This law does not apply when the sale, purchase, or possession was for medical purposes following a physicians directions, at a religious ceremony, or with the consent of a parent in the home with the parent present.
A plea of nolo contendere will not prevent a license suspension for charges of misrepresenting your age or identity or using false identification to purchase alcohol or purchasing an alcoholic beverage while under the age of 21. In order to reinstate your license, you must complete a defensive driving course and pay a $210 fee. However, if the judge allows you to enter a plea of nolo contendere to the charge of attempting to purchase an alcoholic beverage while under the age of 21, your license will not be suspended.
A person under 21 will have their driver's license suspended for 120 days if they are convicted of possession of alcoholic beverage while operating a motor vehicle. A DUI alcohol risk reduction program and $35 fee will be required to reinstate your license. There is a possibility that a plea of nolo contendere will be accepted and will prevent the license suspension.
A person under 21 convicted of possession of alcohol while not driving will not have their license suspended. However, they may be required to complete a DUI alcohol or drug use risk reduction program within 120 days. If the course is not complete, the court will order a license suspension.
While we have provided an overview of the law related to teen and young adult traffic violations, it is best to consult with an experienced Georgia Traffic Ticket Lawyer. Every case is different and whether it was a first or second violation will make a big difference. No matter your age or the ticket, we can help. We have over 50 combined years of experience defending traffic tickets throughout Georgia. If your teenager or young adult has been charged with a traffic violation in Georgia, contact us now.