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Private probation companies write the law

gaflagBy Jessica Towne

I’ve been writing about how to survive probation in my Georgia Driver newsletter lately. Probation requirements are usually written in dense legalese and use jargon that many probationers don’t understand. One requirement of probation that is easy to understand is paying fees on time. I suggest to those who have no money, to report to probation anyway and tell the officer why they aren’t making a payment. A judge is never authorized to revoke probation because a probationer CANNOT pay; a judge is authorized to revoke probation because a probationer WILL NOT pay.

Those who are on probation for a minor misdemeanor such as driving without a license or possession of tiny amount of weed, are likely being overseen by a PRIVATE probation company. Yes, they exist. Georgia currently works with 34 private probation companies in what has become a 40 million dollar a year industry. In theory, probation companies are required to provide reports to the judges. They've never done it. The judges I know were surprised that they were supposed to be seeing statistics. Now the biggest probation company is being sued by several former probationers who claim the probation company charged them for fines they were never required to pay by a judge, such as electronic monitoring and drug testing, and then being threatened with jail if they did not pay. That is just plain illegal.

Read more: Private probation companies write the law

When will Georgia get medical marijuana?

marijuana on clarktowne.comGovernor Deal has been touched by the plight of epileptic and other chronically ill children in Georgia, and is waging a valiant war to get marijuana THC oil approved for their use. Despite getting a bill permitting medical use of THC through both houses, he failed to successfully usher it all the way through the final approval process, and it didn’t become law. But he isn’t stopping there; no, our governor is now proposing to have one of our state universities conduct clinical studies of THC.

Read more: When will Georgia get medical marijuana?

Can you turn a gym into a court?

gavel on clarktowne.comBy Jessica Towne

My admin’s jaw dropped this morning when she read about a DUI case that was heard and decided in a court held inside a high school gym. She couldn’t believe you could turn a court into this kind of circus. She didn’t think much of my simple explanation. Which is:

This defendant must have agreed to have her case heard at the gym.

The law says that all criminal proceedings must take place in a public courtroom.

Read more: Can you turn a gym into a court?

Middle age drinking

wine on clarktowne.comBy Jessica Towne

Many DUIs could be prevented if middle-aged drivers considered that their bodies metabolize
alcohol differently with age. Perhaps you know someone who has discovered that the older you
get, the less you can drink before feeling the effects. The older you are, the less efficiently
your body processes alcohol. Most of us know the liver does most of the work in metabolizing
alcohol, but your changing brain and body composition (think fat to muscle ratio), also play a
part. When you add prescription medicines into the mix, you may find that one drink is more
than enough, thank you.

Read more: Middle age drinking

Register to vote online

vote from Atlanta DUI Lawyers Clark & TowneBy Jessica Towne

Please make sure you are registered to vote. Primary elections are early this year: May 20th. If you’re not registered to vote by April 21, you cannot vote in either the Nonpartisan, Democratic or Republican primary. Luckily for all of us, if you have a valid Georgia driver's license or ID, you can register ONLINE! Yes, Georgia is with the times at last!

It only takes a moment to register. Go to

https://registertovote.sos.ga.gov/ and take care of this simple task.

If you want to register using your phone, Android users should look for the "GA Votes" app. iPad users will find an app up later this week.

BTW: Did you know that in Georgia, convicted felons automatically have voting restored upon completion of probation? If you know someone who has not registered thinking him/herself ineligible because of an old conviction, encourage that person to learn eligibility rules.

 

Did you know that in Georgia, convicted felons automatically have voting restored upon completion of probation?   If you know someone who has not registered thinking him/herself ineligible because of an old conviction, encourage that person to learn eligibility rules.

DUI & college & minors

By Jessica Towne

DUI & minors has its own section of the Atlanta DUI blog

I practice in metro Atlanta where there are not only many universities and colleges, there are lots of college-age kids. I’ve seen quite a few cases over the years where, if my student client was convicted of a DUI, his college career would be over.

With the Huffington Post publishing an easy-to-read article describing, with the help of bold graphics, which colleges arrest the most kids, it’s time to take a deep breath and really focus on what’s important. At first glance, The Huffington Posts’ article seems a little scary—aren’t you glad you don’t attend school in Wisconsin where the campus cops are proven to be handcuff happy? It’s not that simple. Campus police vary from university to university. Much like city police departments, they don’t even agree on how to categorized their arrests. If your school is not on that list, it doesn’t mean you can sit back and sip a tall one in plain sight on campus.

What every college student and parent of a college student should know about campus alcohol and drug arrests:

Read more: DUI & college & minors

Drive High, Get a DUI

By Jessica Towne

Nope, I didn’t make that up. The concerned folks in Colorado did. Surely we all knew that as soon as recreational marijuana use was allowed, the commercials calling attention to stoned driving would soon follow. All kidding aside, legal marijuana use opens up a whole new can of worms in DUI enforcement and law. Although I, and many other DUI lawyers, can cite study after study showing the affects of marijuana on a driver is different than the affects of alcohol on a driver, stoned drivers get a DUI just like drunk drivers for the foreseeable future.

Read more: Drive High, Get a DUI

Catching a stoned driver

By Jessica Towne

We’ve been blogging about how field sobriety tests (FSTs)are being used to catch stoned drivers. The New York Times has a fabulous article on this. They claim that habitual users usually pass the tests. So much for using FSTs to catch stoners.

If FSTs don’t work, how is the average smoking driver going to be caught for stoned driving? Colorado leads the way in trying to determine this since it legalized marijuana.  The law in Colorado, like many DUI laws in the nation, is “zero tolerance.” That means if you refuse to the sobriety tests and /or also refuse a voluntary blood draw, your license is immediately revoked. This is pretty standard for most states, and the cops use zero tolerance to badger people into giving blood when they really shouldn’t.

Read more: Catching a stoned driver

Bad marijuana DUI tests

Atlanta DUI LawyersBy Jessica Towne

Now that marijuana is legal in Colorado and they’re spending one million dollars of taxpayer money on the ad campaign “Drive High, Get a DUI” (catchy), perhaps officials in Colorado could take a few minutes to rethink how they are training officers to spot a stoned driver.

According to Headline News, Colorado law enforcement officers give drivers suspected of driving stoned roadside sobriety tests. Now, which of those 3 words tips you off that perhaps “roadside sobriety tests” were never designed to identify stoned drivers? These tests were meticulously researched and designed by scientists at the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) back in  1977 and 1981 to identify drivers who had drunk too much alcohol. As it is, when administered to a driver who has been drinking alcohol, these tests are only reliable in 65-80% of cases (even if the officers give them correctly). These tests have not been designed for anything other than alcohol. What is Colorado doing using them for pot?