Virtually all states use a point system to determine the severity of a moving violation. In Georgia almost all moving violations carry three points unless designated otherwise. Below is a list of offenses that carry more or less than three points.
|Unlawfully passing a school bus||6 points|
|Aggressive Driving||6 points|
|Speeding 34 or more miles over posted speed limit||6 points|
|Speeding 24-33 miles over posted speed limit||4 points|
|Reckless Driving||4 points|
|Improper Passing on a hill or curve||4 points|
|Speeding 15-18 miles over posted speed limit||2 points|
|Open Container||2 points|
|Child Safety Restraint (First Offense)||1 point|
|Child Safety Restraint (Second Offense)||2 points|
|Texting or improper use of wireless device||1 point|
|Too Fast for Conditions||1 point|
|Speeding 14 miles over posted speed limit or less||1 point|
|All unlisted violations||3 points|
If a person receives 15 points in a 24-month span then he or she will have their driver’s license suspended. There are two pleas that prevent points from being administered on a person’s driving record. The first is a nolo plea. This can be used once every five years for a moving violation. The second plea is a plea under 40-5-57(c)(1)(c) this requires an individual to take a state approved defensive driving class. It will result in no points being administered and a 20% reduction in the fine administered. This plea can only be used once every five years.
Important: Insurance companies do not look at points they look at the violation. If a person pleads nolo then they are still likely to see an increase in their premiums. An insurance company uses its own system in determining the risk of a driver.
Important: All moving violations are misdemeanors under Georgia Law. Most allow fines up to $1,000.00 and permit a one-year jail sentence. Jail time is rare and this firm has never seen a person sentenced to the maximum.
Important: Drivers that do not reside in Georgia are subject to their own state’s point system. What may be a zero point offense in Georgia or a minor offense could be very serious in another state. Some states treat 20 miles per hour over the limit as reckless driving. It is important to view your state’s own laws or consult an attorney in that state when receiving a violation.
Georgia O.C.G.A. § 40-5-54 lays out several of the offenses that create an automatic suspension of a person’s driver’s license. We have included those offenses and other offenses that cause license suspensions. Driving Under the Influence of drugs or alcohol is covered separately in another section. The below listed offenses are serious and an attorney should be consulted before appearing in court for any of the following:
(1) Homicide by vehicle, as defined by Code Section 40-6-393;
(2) Any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used;
(3) Hit and run or leaving the scene of an accident in violation of Code Section 40-6-270;
(4) Racing on highways and streets;
(5) Using a motor vehicle in fleeing or attempting to elude an officer;
(6) Fraudulent or fictitious use of or application for a license as provided in Code Section 40-5- 120 or 40-5-125;
(7) Operating a motor vehicle with a revoked, canceled, or suspended registration in violation of Code Section 40-6-15; or
(8) driving without a license, on a suspended or with a revoked license O.C.G.A. § 40-5-121;
(9) Driving without insurance;
(10) Any violation of Georgia’s Controlled Substance Act.
In order to work in Georgia it is essential for a person to be able to drive. A person can dig himself or herself into a deep hole simply trying to make ends meet. Many traffic courts are understaffed and overburdened. They are not required to advise someone of the consequences and defenses a Defendant has on their traffic violations. We often hear from individuals that they were advised to plea nolo, because it would save their license. Then a notice of suspension shows up in the mail a week later.
Mike Maloof, Jr. spent four years working with Troy Hendrick as an associate and partner. During this time Mr. Maloof specialized predominantly in traffic violations. He has an extensive knowledge of the traffic code and he knows what consequences a person faces. Often there are defenses, special pleas, and negotiation tactics that can save a person’s license and their livelihood. Another important distinction is whether or not the license suspension is a hard suspension or allows a limited permit. A limited permit allows people to drive for work and school related purposes. Our legislature is in the process of expanding the driving privileges on limited permits to include other activity.
We have listed some of the most common suspendable offenses our firm encounters. The hit and run charge allows an individual to obtain a limited permit similar to a DUI. The suspension lasts for four months. In many cases we are able to obtain a reduced charge if the damage was minor. This is an offense jail time is often given. In many cases where a person is injured a defendant could be facing a felony and/or a serious civil lawsuit. Always consult a lawyer when you are charged with hit and run.
Suspended registration occurs when an individual allows his or her insurance to lapse on a vehicle. It is this firm’s belief this is the worst charge in Georgia. In many cases a person will cancel their insurance on a vehicle they no longer drive only to repair the vehicle and reinstate the insurance later. In other cases the person will cancel insurance on one car and the policy will cover several cars causing all the cars to have suspended registration even though the cars being used are insured. Unless the individual has paid a registration reinstatement fee they will be driving with suspended registration. The minimum penalties this charge carries are a $500.00 fine and a six-month suspension. A second offense carries 10 days in jail, a $1,000.00 fine and a one-year suspension. A nolo plea will not save your license, but a limited permit is available.
Driving without insurance carries with it a 60-day license suspension along with a minimum fine amount of $200.00 on a first offense. On a second offense within five years the suspension is 90 days and a person must obtain a particular type of insurance that often costs more money. People have to pay the bills and when they get behind they often let their insurance lapse. A person that pleads guilty or simply pays this will receive the serious penalties mentioned above and subject themselves to stiffer penalties if they continue to drive.
Driving on a suspended license carries a minimum penalty including 2 days in jail, a $500.00 fine, and an additional 6-month suspension. A second offense within 5 years includes 10 days in jail, a $1,000.00 fine and a one-year suspension. The charge becomes felony after 3 offenses.
The Maloof Law Firm has encountered people who have allowed themselves to drive without the required insurance, registration, and valid license necessary to navigate Georgia’s roads. They often are simply going to work and pick up several charges in a short span. This can ruin them financially and can prevent them from obtaining a valid license for several years. Don’t think that because it is just a traffic ticket it is no big deal. We have prevented many people from losing their jobs, licenses, and livelihoods, but those who try and do it themselves often find themselves in an impossible situation.
Important: Suspensions from drug related offenses are added onto whatever suspension a person is given or already has i.e. if I am charged with driving on a suspended license and possession of marijuana and it is the first time I have been charged with both I will face a one-year suspension. A six-month suspension for driving on a suspended license and a six month for possessing marijuana, any violation of Georgia’s Controlled Substances Act will result in a suspension of at least six months without any permit being available.
In Georgia officers issue a traffic citation for any vehicular accident. The officer rarely witnesses the accident, and not many officers are experts in accident reconstruction. In accident disputes one party claims one set of facts and another party claims a different version. The officer makes a decision based on a limited amount of evidence. They often make their mind up before they interview both parties. An accident not only results in fines and penalties from the officer, but it can have civil ramifications.
If you believe you are not at fault in an accident it is never a good idea to simply pay the fine or enter a guilty plea. The reason is many people will sue you and your insurance company. A plea of guilty or the payment of a fine is an admission in a civil proceeding and can be used against you in a civil lawsuit.
Our firm has seen hundreds of accidents. In some cases we have been able to prove the other party at fault. In these cases our clients have often been able to file civil suits against the other party for property damage and personal injury claims. Please call our office if you were involved in an accident and we will advise you on your options.
Probably the most common ticket administered in Georgia is a speeding ticket. Georgia officers usually use a laser device in order to calculate your speed. They are required to meet several statutory criteria in order to allow the device’s reading into evidence.
In order for a laser device to be allowed into evidence against a Defendant an officer must lay the proper foundation. He must prove a device is approved by the Department of Public Safety. He must not be three hundred feet from any reduction in speed sign. He must be visible for at least five hundred feet. The road must have a grade of less than 7% and the officer must have the proper training to use the device. Many courts try to get around this by allowing an officer’s visual estimation of a defendant’s speed to be sufficient evidence for a conviction. Our firm uses these requirements as a bargaining tool in plea negotiations. We are able in many cases to prevent the negative consequences of a speeding conviction.
Speeding tickets can carry as many as 6 points on your license. They will cause increases in your insurance premiums. With budget shortfalls many jurisdictions have begun to issue more and more tickets. Unless the offense is your first violation they can fine you $1,000.00 plus court costs.
Under 21 Drivers
Under 21 drivers are held to much stricter laws. The legislator believes and statistics show these drivers are at a much higher risk of causing an accident. Any person under 21 years of age cannot receive a 4 point violation. They will receive an automatic 6-month suspension for all offenses carrying four or more points. This is a hard suspension. They will not be allowed to drive for any purpose. One exception is speeding violations for 24-33 miles per hour over the posted limit. A judge at his discretion can allow a limited driving permit for work and school related purposes.
If you are under the age of 18 and accumulate 4 points in a 12-month span then you will lose your license for six months. If you get a DUI and you score over a .08 you will receive a hard suspension for 1 year. If you receive a DUI and score under .08 but over .02 then you will receive a 6-month suspension.
Commercial Drivers are held to the strictest driving qualifications. The point system does not apply to CDL drivers. Instead our system looks at the type of offense and determines whether or not to disqualify the commercial license.
Georgia designates CDL violations into two categories major traffic violations and serious traffic violations. Major traffic violations include DUI, hit and run, driving with suspended license, homicide by vehicle, racing, fleeing or attempting to elude, and driving with suspended registration. Georgia’s serious violations include speeding 15 MPH over the posted limit, reckless driving, following another vehicle to closely, improper lane change, failure to signal, any citation involved in a fatal crash, and texting or using a wireless device while driving.
Any major violation will result in a 1-year disqualification of a person’s CDL. A second major violation disqualifies an individual for life. A CDL driver who obtains two serious violations in a 3-year span is disqualified for 60 days. If a person gets three then he is disqualified for 90 days.
Important: In the current work environment any ticket will result in termination for many trucking companies. A different system set up by the Federal Government is becoming common with more advanced law enforcement agencies. This system does not even allow a person his or her day in court without a special request. Trucking accidents are big liabilities and any blemish on a person’s driving record makes them a big liability. Please contact our office for a free consultation.