The Georgia DUI Guide

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I just got arrested for a State of Georgia DUI offense.  What happens next?

 

ISSUE ONE:  The Georgia Implied Consent / Administrative License Suspension (ALS) Proceeding:  Your Georgia license (or your right to drive in Georgia if you're not a Georgia license driver) was most likely suspended for anywhere from one to five years for failing (.08 percent BAC or greater (.04 percent for commercial drivers / .02 percent for persons under 21 years of age)) or refusing a breath or blood test.  This suspension typically starts on the 31st day after your arrest unless you make a timely request for an appeal.

 

Read your paperwork carefully.  You generally have 10 business days from the date of your arrest to request a hearing to challenge this administrative drivers license suspension for a breath test failure or refusal.  This hearing is often referred to as an ALS Hearing.  If you miss this deadline, the suspension will automatically go into effect on the 31st day after your DUI arrest.

 

If upheld (or not appealed), you will not be able to obtain a limited work permit if you refused the chemical test. 

 

 

IMPLIED CONSENT.  Under Georgia law, any person who operates a motor vehicle upon the highways or elsewhere throughout the state shall be deemed to have given consent to a chemical test or tests of his or her blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol or any other drug, if arrested for a DUI offense or if such person is involved in any traffic accident resulting in serious injuries or fatalities.

 

 

ISSUE TWO:  The Georgia DUI Criminal Case:  Separate from the administrative drivers license suspension (ALS) is the criminal charge for driving under the influence (DUI).  Under Georgia law, it is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while either:


(1) Under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive; or
(2) Under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive; or
(3) Under the intentional influence of any glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive; or
(4) Under the combined influence of alcohol, drugs, glue, or vapor to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive; or
(5) The person’s alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or more at any time within three hours after such driving or being in actual physical control from alcohol consumed before such driving or being in actual physical control ended [sometimes referred to as a "per se DUI"]; or
(6) There is any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance present in the person´s blood or urine, or both without regard to whether or not any alcohol is present in the person´s breath or blood.
 

 

Important:  The implied consent / administrative license suspension (ALS) and the criminal DUI case are completely separate proceedings from one another. 

 

Will my Georgia driver license be suspended or revoked?

 

RELATED TO ISSUE ONE ABOVE:  Your Georgia driver license (or your right to drive in Georgia if you do not have a valid Georgia license) may be suspended in the administrative drivers license suspension for failing or for refusing a chemical test for alcohol and / or drugs.  Again, you may challenge this administrative license suspension by requesting a hearing within 10 days of your arrest.  Requesting a hearing will not necessarily overturn the suspension; rather, it merely provides with a chance to overturn the suspension.

 

 

RELATED TO ISSUE TWO ABOVE:  If you are convicted of the DUI charge, you will also lose your license (or your right to drive in Georgia if you don't have a valid Georgia license) for a year or more.  This suspension is separate and distinct from the administrative license suspension.  Talk to your Georgia DUI lawyer for possible suspension lengths for your situation.

 

 

Also keep in mind that your license can be suspended for a variety of reasons unrelated to a DUI arrest e.g. excessive points, conviction of a controlled substance offense, etc.

 

What happens if I get caught driving while my license is under suspension?

 

Driving while your license is under suspension should be avoided as it is a new new misdemeanor crime.  Penalties include fines, at least two days jail time, and an additional license suspension of six months.

 

I really need to drive.  Will I be able to get a restricted / occupational / conditional / limited driving permit?

 

If you are suspended for a chemical test failure or first or second DUI conviction, you may be eligible to apply for a limited driving permit.  [These permits are generally not available for an administrative license suspension if you refused a chemical (breath) test.]  Limited Driving Permits may be obtained for:

 

1.    Going to work or performing the normal duties of your employment.

2.    Going to medical appointments.

3.    Attending classes at a college or other school in which you are enrolled.

4.    Attending a driver education, assessment, and court ordered treatment program.

5.    Going to and from an Ignition Interlock Center.

 

The Department of Driver Services may put additional restrictions on your driving.   A limited driving permit is non-renewable and becomes invalid on the expiration date of permit.

 

Upon the conviction of a second DUI offense, you may apply for and be issued an ignition interlock device limited driving permit at the end of 12 months after the suspension of the driver's license. You must meet eligibility requirements to receive the ignition interlock permit. Talk to your DUI lawyer about whether and when you may qualify for a limited driving permit.   

 

What is the difference between a DUI, DWI, OWI, OVI, OUI, DWAI, OUI, etc.?

 

These terms are all acronyms that refer to the offense commonly known as "drunk driving."  Different states have slightly different names for the crime.  For example, in North Carolina, New York, and Texas the charge is known as driving while intoxicated or DWI.  Oregon uses the term driving while under the influence of an intoxicant or DUII.  Michigan and Iowa use the term operating while intoxicated or OWI.

Like Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and many other states, Georgia uses the term "
driving while under the influence" or DUI. 

 

Is a DUI in Georgia a misdemeanor or felony charge?

 

In Georgia, a DUI is typically a misdemeanor offense.  However, if you have four or more prior DUI convictions in the past 10 years, any subsequent DUI is now a felony offense.  Few people have this type of DUI history, so felony DUI charges in Georgia are quite rare.

 

What type of penalties might I face if I am convicted of a Georgia DUI charge?

 

Upon conviction of a Georgia DUI offense, a defendant can receive a variety of penalties including probation, DUI school (aka DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program (RRP)).  A range of minimum penalties is set forth below: 

 


GEORGIA DUI PENALTY CHART

GEORGIA DUI CONVICTION TYPICAL PENALTIES
FIRST DUI OFFENSE
  • at least 24 hours jail time;
  • at least 40 hours of community service;
  • several hundred dollars in fines, fees, costs, and surcharges;
  • 1 year drivers license suspension;
  • possible alcohol / drug evaluation and treatment if necessary.
SECOND DUI OFFENSE
(within a 10 year period)
  • at least 72 hours jail time (often more);
  • at least 30 days community service;
  • more than $1000 in fines, fees costs, and surcharges;
  • 3 year drivers license suspension;
  • alcohol / drug evaluation and treatment if necessary.
THIRD DUI OFFENSE
(within 10 years)
  • at least 15 days jail time (often significantly more custody time);
  • 5 year license revocation;
  • alcohol / drug evaluation and treatment if necessary.

Will my defense lawyer be able to plea bargain / negotiate my Georgia DUI charge down to another (lesser) offense?

Possibly.  Plea bargaining (to a charge such as reckless driving) or charge reduction is something that your Georgia DUI lawyer can advise you about.  In some cases, your only option will be to plead to the DUI charge or take your case to trial.

Will a Georgia DUI go on "my driving record?"

Yes.  A DUI conviction will go on your Georgia driving record and will stay on your record forever.  You cannot expunge or seal a DUI conviction in the State of Georgia.

Just how much jail / prison time will I have to do if I am convicted of a DUI in Georgia?

The amount of incarceration (jail or prison) received for a Georgia DUI conviction will depend on a number of factors, including (but not limited to) the following:

•  your prior driving record especially your DUI history (including any DWI's / DUI's outside of the State of Georgia);

•  your level of intoxication / blood alcohol content (BAC);

•  whether there was a collision involved;

•  whether there was bodily injury to another person in the collision;

•  which Georgia county / court your case is in;

•  what judge you are sentenced by;

•  whether there was a passenger / child in your car (especially a child under 14);

•  whether the court feels you have accepted responsibility for your actions.

 

I am licensed to drive in a state other than Georgia and I was cited for a DUI in Georgia.  Will my driver license be suspended?

Georgia only has the authority to suspend your right to drive in the State of Georgia.  Georgia is NOT one of the 45 states (along withy the District of Columbia) that are members of an agreement known as the "Driver License Compact."  These Compact states report out of state DUI type convictions to the driver's home state.  Keep in mind that even though Georgia is not a member of the Drivers License Compact, your home state may still learn of a Georgia DUI conviction. 

If your home state does learn of the conviction, they will generally take action to suspend your license.  If you are licensed in Georgia and you are convicted of a DUI / DWI offense in another state, Georgia will take steps to suspend your license if it learns of the out of state DUI conviction.

I have a commercial driver license (CDL).  How does my DUI effect my CDL?

 

A Georgia DUI conviction will result in a one year suspension of your commercial driver license regardless of whether you were driving commercially at the time.  [If you were driving hazardous materials at the time of your DUI arrest a conviction will result in a three year CDL suspension.]  A second DUI conviction will result in a permanent / lifetime revocation of your CDL. 

 

A breath test refusal also results in a one year CDL suspension.  A second refusal (when there's a prior DUI incident) will result in a lifetime CDL suspension.  A lifetime suspension may be reduced to 10 years after an applicant furnishes proof of rehabilitation, approved by the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety.

 

Drivers possessing a commercial driver's license that is suspended, revoked or canceled cannot be issued a limited permit or probationary license to operate a commercial vehicle.

What happens if I was on probation when I got arrested for my Georgia DUI offense?

Committing a new offense while you're on probation for a previous crime creates two problems.  First, you face the new Georgia DUI charge.  Second, you face a probation violation hearing for failing to obey all laws (a standard condition of probation).  The most serious scenario is when you receive a new Georgia DUI when you're already on probation for a previous DUI.  When this happens, its in your best interest to speak to a Georgia DUI lawyer right away.

Will I have to install an Ignition Interlock Device on my car?

 

An ignition interlock device (IID) is a breath alcohol measurement device that is connected to a motor vehicle ignition.  In order to start the vehicle, a driver must blow a breath sample into the device which then measures alcohol concentration.  If the alcohol concentration exceeds the startup set point on the interlock device, the vehicle will not start.

 

You will likely have to install an ignition interlock device if this is your second DUI conviction.  Speak to your Georgia DUI lawyer about whether this requirement applies to you.

 

I'm not a United States citizen.  Will a Georgia DUI conviction result in my removal from this country?

Probably not.  Typical, run of the mill Georgia DUI (no priors) are not considered crimes of moral turpitude or aggravated felonies resulting in removal.  It is important to consult an experienced immigration lawyer about your situation just as you should consult with an experienced Georgia criminal defense lawyer about your pending DUI charge. 

Keep two points in mind.  First, it is very important to answer honestly all questions about prior arrests / convictions on immigration and Visa applications and forms.  Lying on these forms is often considered more serious than any DUI offense.  Second, non-citizens must take extra care not to drive on a suspended or revoked license.

What will a Georgia DUI do to my insurability?

If your insurance company finds out about a DUI conviction one of two things are likely to happen.  Either your Georgia insurer will raise your insurance rates or you may be cancelled or non-renewed. 

Are there special concerns for licensed pilots who get an Georgia DUI?

 

Yes.  The FAA has special reporting requirements for certain Motor Vehicle Actions including Georgia DUI convictions and certain statutory summary suspensions.  Learn more about FAA requirements here.

I missed my Georgia court appearance.  What do I do now?

Failing to appear (FTA) for court is to be avoided.  When you miss a court appearance, bad things follow.  At a minimum, the Georgia court typically issues a warrant for your arrest (known as a bench warrant).  You may also face a new charge known as bail jumping.  Your license may be suspended as well.  Talk to an attorney as soon as possible.  Your attorney may be able to schedule a hearing to get the warrant recalled.  Sometimes, your only option is to turn yourself in on the outstanding warrant.  A new court date will then be scheduled.

Can I represent myself on my Georgia DUI and / or my other criminal charge(s)?

Yes.  You have an absolute constitutional right to represent yourself on any criminal charge no matter how serious the offense including a Georgia DUI offense.  Keep in mind that Georgia DUI law is complex as shown by the information here.  If you cannot afford to hire your own DUI lawyer, you definitely should apply for a court appointed attorney to represent you.  You have no right to court appointed counsel at the implied consent license proceeding.


Websites, including this one, provide general Georgia DUI information but do not provide legal advice or create an attorney / lawyer / client relationship.  General information cannot replace legal advice specific to your case, problem, or situation.  Consult qualified Georgia Drunk Driving - DUI lawyers / attorneys for advice about any specific problem or any DUI charge that you face.  Georgia attorneys are governed by the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct.  This website may be considered an advertisement for services under these Rules.  Information contained in this website is believed to be accurate but is not warranted or guaranteed in any way.  No lawyer associated with this website is specialized or certified in any way.  This site is not a solicitation; rather, it is purely informational.  Georgia DUI lawyers provide drunk driving (DUI) and criminal defense assistance to the communities of: Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Savannah, Athens, Macon, Roswell, Albany, Marietta, Fulton County, Chatham County, Richmond County, Clarke County, Cobb County, Bibb County.  Georgia attorneys may accept Visa, American Express, and MasterCard credit cards. 

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