DUI in Georgia: What Are the Penalties Involved in Driving Drunk?

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When we meet with clients involved in a DUI in Georgia for the first time, they all ask us the same question – What kind of penalties am I facing? Even though you can try to piece together this information from the internet, you never know which sites you can trust. One site tells you that you’ll be eligible for a hardship license after 3 months while another tells you that you must wait at least 4 months. Rather than try to decipher the truth on your own, we suggest you give us a call. Speak with one of our Athens DUI attorneys. Not only do they know the DUI laws in Georgia, but they may be able to help you avoid a conviction.

When you first call, let our Athens criminal defense attorneys know what’s going on with your case. If you’re still in jail, we can help you get released. If you’re about to face your first court appearance, we’ll need as much time as possible to prepare your case. Rather than wait until the last minute, just call us as soon as you have access to a phone. You can even schedule your initial consultation through our website if need be.

The Court Will Do a 10-Year Look Back to Determine Level of Offense

In order to know what penalties you’re facing, you need to know whether this is your first, second, or third offense. The way the court determines this is by doing a 10-year “look back.” This means they will go back ten years from the date of your arrest to see if you have any previous convictions for DUI in Georgia. Remember – it’s only convictions that matter. Just because you were charged with DUI, that won’t count against you.

If this is the first time you’ve ever been arrested for DUI in Georgia, then you know it’s your first offense. If you were convicted of DUI once before, then this will probably be considered your second offense, and so on. It’s important that your Athens DUI lawyer knows which level of offense this is so they can determine the potential penalties.

Even a 1st Offense DUI in Georgia Carries Strict Penalties

Just because this is the first time you’ve been charged with DUI, that doesn’t mean the penalties are soft. In fact, the penalties for DUI in Georgia are stricter than they are in many other states. For example, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least 1-year if this is your first DUI conviction. Many other states only suspend your license for 6 months.

Some of the other penalties for a 1st offense DUI in Athens, Georgia includes:

  • Minimum of 10 days in jail (At least 1 day must be served)
  • Maximum jail sentence of 1-year
  • Fines anywhere from $300 to $1,000 plus surcharges
  • 12 months’ probation
  • 40 hours of community service
  • Risk Reduction alcohol and drug program
  • 1 year driver’s license suspension

You can see how heavy these penalties are. You can only imagine how bad they are for a 2nd or 3rd offense. We’ll discuss those levels in detail below.

The Consequences for a 2nd DUI Are Even Worse

As promised, the repercussions for a 2nd DUI are even worse than they are for a 1st offense. This makes sense. Logically, the judge is going to make your sentence harsher if this is your second time being convicted of drunk driving.

The penalties for a 2nd offense DUI are as follows:

  • Fines of $600-$1,000
  • Minimum of 90 days in jail (You must serve at least 72 hours)
  • Maximum jail time of up to 1 year
  • 12 months’ probation
  • 3-year license suspension
  • Require ignition interlock device once you get your license reinstated
  • 30 days community service
  • Clinical evaluation and completion of Risk Reduction alcohol and drug program

You are allowed to apply for a hardship license after you’ve served 4 months of your license suspension. However, you will be required to submit proof of SR-22 (high-risk) Insurance. You will also be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. This is the machine that requires you to blow into it before you can start your car. If you blow into the IID and it detects alcohol, a signal will be sent to the prosecutor or your probation officer, and your hardship license will be revoked.

You Don’t Want to Be Convicted of DUI in Georgia for a Third Time in Georgia

The last thing you want to do is be convicted of DUI for a third time. At this point, you may never be able to drive again. By the time you serve your 5-year driver’s license suspension, your insurance may be so high that you can’t afford to drive anymore.

The penalties for a 3rd DUI include:

  • 5-year license suspension
  • Fines anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000
  • Jail sentence of 15 days to 1 year (15 days must be served)
  • Clinical evaluation and completion of Risk Reduction alcohol and drug program
  • 12 months’ probation
  • SR-22 and IID required if you do get your license reinstated along with $200 reinstatement fee

You Should Meet with an Athens Criminal Defense Attorney No Matter Which Level Offense You’ve Been Charged With

Being arrested and charged with a DUI is a serious matter. Even if it’s your first offense, you’ll be facing very serious consequences. Not only will you be facing jail time and fines, but you’ll also be looking at a lengthy driver’s license suspension. If you have any hope of avoiding a conviction, you should hire an Athens criminal defense attorney. They can try to poke holes in the prosecutor’s case. They’ll also try to negotiate a favorable plea deal with the prosecutor.

It doesn’t matter what it costs to hire am Athens DUI attorney. It will be worth its weight in gold if it helps you get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. That’s why we suggest you call our office as soon as possible after your arrest. When the officer allows you to make your one phone call, it should be either to our office or to a family member who can call us for you.

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