Melanie M. Ellwanger, Esquire
Melanie McCorkle Ellwanger is an attorney at Head, Thomas, Webb & Willis, LLC in Atlanta, GA. Her areas of focus include personal injury law and criminal law defense.
Ms. Ellwanger received her law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law. During her first two summers in law school, Ms. Ellwanger gained experience in corporate law as well as probate law and estate planning as a law clerk with Andrew, Merritt, Reilly & Smith in Lawrenceville, GA. In her third summer, she worked in civil and criminal law as a Summer Associate with Whelchel and Dunlap in Gainesville, GA.
Prior to attending law school, Ms. Ellwanger graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies and Conflict Resolution from the Women’s College of Brenau University. Due to her scholastic achievements, she was the recipient of the Brenau Scholar Award. Ms. Ellwanger was an active member of the Phi Beta Sigma and Gamma Sigma Alpha Honor Societies and was involved in the community through her participation in the Brenau University Leadership Program.
After law school, Ms. Ellwanger was a law clerk and investigative assistant for the Hall County Public Defender’s Office in Gainesville, GA. She then became an Assistant Solicitor for the Forsyth County Solicitor General’s Office. Ms. Ellwanger prosecuted more than 1,000 criminal cases, including traffic violations, driving under the influence, domestic violence, and other crimes. She also served as the prosecutor for Forsyth County’s DUI Court Program. During this time, she attended various law enforcement courses and received a Certificate of Completion for the NHTSA DUI Detection and Field Sobriety course.
Melanie is associated with several police training courses that includes the fulfillment of the Practitioner's Course for the NHTSA DUI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) Program, where she was awarded a Certificate of Completion. When she began working with Head, Thomas, Webb & Willis, LLC in March of 2010, she has joined the National College for DUI Defense (www.NCDD.com) and has finished a comprising, multi-day forensic breath testing course in Atlanta. In July of 2010, she went to the NCDD Summer Session that took place at Harvard University School of Law in Cambridge, MA.
Ms. Ellwanger has been a requested speaker at a statewide Georgia DUI Seminar funded by Georgia's largest non-profit continuing legal education provider, the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia (www.iclega.org) in May of 2010. At the moment, she is an associate member of the Georgia DODD (Defense of Drinking Drivers) statewide "think tank" assembly.
Ms. Ellwanger brings her prosecution experience to clients at Head, Thomas, Webb & Willis, LLC, where she handles criminal and civil litigation cases. Her specialties include misdemeanor and felony criminal defense as well as DUI defense and personal injury law. She is currently preparing a treatise on civil law with Senior Partner William C. Head that will be published in Fall of 2010 by Thomson-Reuters (West Publishing).
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Outcome: Under 21 charge reduced to reckless driving
Description: After hitting a pole and failing the field sobriety tests, the underage client was arrested and tested five times over the legal limit for his age (.10%). Ms. Ellwanger told the prosecution that that they would have a tough time providing that her client was the one behind the wheel of the vehicle. Although Ms. Ellwanger was ready to take the case before a jury, the prosecution offered her client a plea deal--reducing the DUI offense to reckless driving--a week before the trial.
Outcome: DUI charge reduced to reckless driving
Description: After nearly hitting a police officer in the fog at a DUI sobriety checkpoint, the client was arrested for drunk driving and blew a .088% on the breathalyzer. As a pilot, the client's entire livelihood could be in jeopardy if he was convicted of DUI so he contacted Ms. Ellwanger for help with his case. Ms. Ellwanger immediately met with the arresting officers and prosecution and--after several hours--was able to arrange a plea deal to reduce the DUI to reckless driving and save her client's pilot license.
Outcome: DUI charge dropped to minor traffic infraction
Description: After the underage client was involved in a vehicle collision, he was charged with drunk driving, alcohol possession, causing an accident, and hit and run. Ms. Ellwanger had a number of meetings and discussions with the prosecuting attorney about this case, and eventually convinced the prosecutor to reduce all of the charges to a local ordinance violation and following too closely.
Outcome: Second DUI offense reduced to traffic infraction; Child Endangerment charge dismissed
Description: The client was arrested for a second drunk-driving offense within five years in addition to child endangerment, making the charge a technical third DUI within a five-year period. In addition to jail time, the client was also facing a five-year license suspension, so Ms. Ellwanger met with the arresting officer and prosecutor several times. Although Ms. Ellwanger was ready to argue her client's case in court, the client was offered a plea bargain on the day of the trial that reduced the DUI to reckless driving and dismissed the child endangerment charge.
Outcome: DUI offense reduced to reckless driving
Description: After performing the standardized field sobriety tests and submitting to a breathalyzer, the client was arrested for drunk driving. Ms. Ellwanger pointed out the errors with these tests to the prosecutor and a plea bargain was arranged to drop the DUI charge down to reckless driving.
Outcome: DUI case win
Description: The client was pulled over for weaving (which was visible on the video evidence from the patrol car) and arrested after admitting to consuming a number of alcoholic beverages and stumbling. Despite the officer's observation that the client appeared intoxicated, Ms. Ellwanger argued that the prosecution hadn't met its burden of proof. The jury delivered a Not Guilty verdict.
Outcome: DUI Drugs and accident charge reduced to traffic infraction
Description: After causing a vehicle collision in Cobb County, the client was brought in for a drug test and tested positive for a number of medications. Ms. Ellwanger worked with pharmacists and toxicologists and even conducted her own research into the effects of the client's medications. Thanks to this leg work, she was able to convince the prosecutor to reduce the 11 counts of DUI Drugs and causing an accident charge to a minor red light violation.
Outcome: DUI charge reduced to reckless driving
Description: The client was arrested for DUI and was clearly intoxicated on the video, but was worried about jeopardizing his career at a major accounting firm. Ms. Ellwanger told the prosecution that the State could not meet the probable burden cause or prove that her client was the driver. On the day of the trial, the prosecutor agreed to reduce the drunk-driving charge to reckless driving.