Ignition Interlock After DUI Charges

Gwinnett Interlock Systems Owner Gina Matthews

With ignition interlock becoming much more important after the recent changes to administrative license suspensions, I decided to learn more about what our clients who have DUI charges in Gwinnett County might be facing.  In order to learn more about ignition interlock equipment, installation, and monitoring, I visited with the nice people over at Gwinnett Interlock Systems in Lawrenceville at their open house held on July 15, 2017.

New Georgia Law Allowing Ignition Interlock In Administrative License Suspension Cases

To understand why ignition interlock has become much more important recently, it’s important to understand some changes in the law people face when facing DUI charges in Atlanta.  If you are facing an administrative license suspension hearing as a result of a DUI charge in Georgia, the law underwent sweeping changes which went into effect July 1, 2017.  These changes allow people who have been charged with DUI in Georgia and are facing an administrative license suspension 30 days to file for an appeal hearing to an administrative license suspension.  Within that 30 days, people need to make a choice with advice from their Atlanta DUI attorney to have an administrative license suspension hearing or to choose to have an ignition interlock device installed into their car for 12 months.

Whether to have an administrative license suspension hearing or install the interlock device is a big decision and should be made with advice from a good Gwinnett County DUI attorney.  You can read more about that decision in this other post in our series regarding the new laws.

One of the aspects regarding whether to elect to install an ignition interlock device if charged with DUI in Gwinnett County is the process of actually installing and monitoring the equipment.

Lifesafer FC100 mouthpiece. Photo credit lifesafer.com.

Ignition Interlock Device Equipment in Gwinnett County

I’m happy to say that Gwinnett Interlock Systems utilizes Lifesafer DUI ignition interlock devices.  These systems are very reliable and small.  The systems are small enough that they can be installed under the dash of most cars without being visible.  The only visible component of the ignition interlock device is the actual mouthpiece.  This will hang down on a chord outside of the dashboard.  It’s not overly obtrusive.

Ignition Interlock Device Installation in Gwinnett County

According to Matthews, installation for an ignition interlock device can be completed in about two hours.  Again, installation occurs under the dash of the car.  There should be no damage to the car during installation.  Installation costs $75.00.

Ignition Interlock Device Month Monitoring in Gwinnett County

Monthly monitoring of the ignition interlock device for people who have them installed as a result of DUI charges in Gwinnett County is required.  Monthly monitoring of the ignition interlock device will log the times, if any, a person failed after blowing into the mouthpiece.  The monthly monitoring will make sure that the device isn’t being tampered with and that the device is functioning properly.  According to Matthews, monitoring can be accomplished in a half hour and costs $75.00 per month.

If you’re charged with DUI  in Gwinnett County and are thinking about installing an ignition interlock device, our Gwinnett County DUI attorneys highly recommend Gwinnett Interlock Systems.  They can be reached at 678-373-3026.


Two Gwinnett County Police Department Officers Fired for Excessive Force

Two Gwinnett County Police Department Officers were fired after using excessive force on a stopped motorist. Demetrius Hollins, 21, was the stopped motorist who was assaulted.

The two officers who were fired were Officer Robert McDonald and Sargent Michael Bongiavonni. Cell phone videos captured Bongiovonni punching Hollins during a traffic stop while Hollins had his hands up. Another video showed McDonald kicking Hollins in the head while he lay on the ground handcuffed.

Gwinnett County Police Chief Butch Ayers acted swiftly once the videos surfaced and fired Officer McDonald and Officer Bongiavonni. Bongiavonni had claimed that Hollins resisted arrest, but this explanation was not enough to save his job. Officer Bongiavonni had been with Gwinnett County Police Department for 19 years.

Pictures taken of Hollins at the jail show him with a bloody face.

A little known fact about Gwinnett County Police Department is that the vast majority of its cars do not contain the dash cam video equipment recorders that have become standard in most jurisdictions. In this case, it was lucky that the misconduct was caught by cell phone cameras or it could have gone unpunished. Undoubtedly, this case will cause criminal defense lawyers and citizens to redouble their calls for Gwinnett County Police Department to install dash cameras in all cars.

Should You Plead Nolo Contendere To Your Speeding Ticket?

Pleading Nolo Contendere to a Speeding Ticket

Should you plead nolo contendere to your speeding ticket?  This is a question that I am asked endlessly by my traffic ticket clients.  They call and ask, “Why don’t I just plead nolo to my speeding ticket?”

People think pleading nolo contendere to a speeding ticket is like shooting a werewolf with a silver bullet or stabbing a vampire through the heart with a stake.  Unfortunately, pleading nolo contendere to a speeding ticket is no magic solution.

By the way, pleading nolo contendere and no contest are the same thing.  Nolo contendere is latin, and the English translation is no contest.  They are exactly the same thing.

The answer to this question is a big, resounding, NO.  As a traffic ticket lawyer, I think there are very few cases where you should plead nolo contendere to a speeding ticket.  Here’s why.

A Nolo Contendere Plea to a Speeding Ticket is Still Reported to Your Driving Record

Contrary to popular belief, a nolo contendere plea will NOT keep the speeding ticket from being reported to your driving record.  If you plead nolo contendere to your speeding ticket, the speeding ticket will still be reported to your driving record.

Your car insurance company will still be able to see the speeding ticket.  When they run your driving record before deciding whether to raise your car insurance rates, they will be able to see that you pled nolo contendere to a speeding ticket AND the speed you were traveling!

Many people seem to think that pleading nolo contendere to your speeding ticket will stop your car insurance company from finding out about the speeding ticket.  The sad truth is that a nolo plea doesn’t prevent your car insurance company from discovering the speeding ticket.

Car Insurance Companies Do Not Care If You Plead Nolo To A Speeding Ticket Or Guilty To A Speeding Ticket

Once I give a potential client this information, the next question is inevitably “Well, the car insurance company can’t raise my rates since I pled nolo, right?”  Wrong.  Your car insurance company DOES NOT CARE that you pled nolo contendere to your speeding ticket. 

To a car insurance company, a nolo contendere plea to a speeding ticket is the same as a guilty plea.  Your car insurance company will simply look at the speeding ticket, note the speed, and correspondingly raise your car insurance rates for anywhere from three to seven years.  Pleading nolo contendere to a speeding ticket can end up costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your car insurance rates.

I know, dear reader, that you are thinking, “But I’m not pleading guilty!  I’m pleading no contest!  I’m not admitting guilt!”  Sorry, but your car insurance company does not care.  There is no law that says that car insurance companies cannot raise your car insurance rates if you plead nolo contendere to a speeding ticket.

Benefits of Pleading No Contest to a Speeding Ticket

There’s got to be some benefit to pleading nolo contendere to speeding ticket, right?  You are correct, there is some benefit to pleading no contest to your speeding ticket.

Quite simply, a nolo contendere plea to a speeding ticket keeps the points off of your record.  Points are used by the Department of Driver Services to determine if your license should be suspended.  That’s it.  Points do not determine whether your car insurance company raises your car insurance rates if your get a citation for speeding.  Most of the time, your speeding ticket is not going to result in enough points that it will suspend your license unless you have a a pretty bad driving record.

In the opinion of this traffic ticket lawyer, the benefit to pleading no contest to a speeding citation is very limited and you are usually better off keeping that no contest plea in your back pocket rather than burning it on a speeding ticket.  Remember, you only get to plead nolo contendere once every five years in Georgia.

When is it a good time to use that nolo contendere plea?  Well, that’s another post for another day…