It can be scary to get charged with a DUI. Thoughts of losing your license, being thrown in jail or facing hefty fines are probably floating around your head. Georgia takes driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol very seriously. However, first-time offenders usually get less onerous penalties. If you’re facing your first DUI charge, read on.
When Can You Be Charged With a DUI?
There are two ways in which police in Georgia can charge you with a DUI. They are called DUI less safe and DUI per se. DUI per se applies when your blood alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit.
In Georgia, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of:
- 0.02 percent or higher if you are under 21 years old
- 0.04 percent or higher if operating a commercial vehicle
- 0.08 percent or higher if you are over 21 and driving a passenger vehicle
Even if the prosecution can’t show your driving is impaired, your BAC is enough to get you convicted.
Meanwhile, DUI less safe is also known as an impairment DUI. You can be charged in this way if an officer determines you are impaired enough to be a less safe driver. It does not matter what your BAC is. It also does not matter if you refuse to take the chemical test. However, the prosecution has to show evidence of impairment like slurred speech or erratic behavior to get a conviction.
Criminal Penalties for a First DUI Offense, Explained by Georgia DUI Attorneys
A first DUI charge is usually considered a misdemeanor. However, this doesn’t mean you will escape jail time. The judge can sentence you to up to 12 months in county jail. Longer sentences are served in prison. Alternatively, under certain circumstances, the judge may give you credit for time served when you were arrested. If your blood alcohol concentration was .08 percent or higher, it is mandatory that you serve at least 24 hours in jail. Another possibility is that you will spend time on probation.
There are a number of fines and costs associated with a DUI, even if it’s your first. Fines arrange from $300 to $1,000. You must also pay to attend the DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program. This 20-hour course costs more than $350. If you get probation, you may have to pay a supervision fee.
The court will also require you to participate in 40 hours of community service. You will also have to undergo clinical evaluation for drug or alcohol dependency. If the evaluator determines you need treatment, you will have to undergo counseling.
Georgia DUI Lawyers on License Penalties for First DUI Charge
In addition to the criminal sanctions imposed by the court, a conviction will also impact your driver’s license. If you are over 21, the Department of Driver Services will suspend your license for 12 months for non-drug related DUIs. If you have an otherwise clean driving record, you may be able to get a limited permit. This allows you to drive to specific places. If you want your license back, you have to complete a state-approved risk-reduction program and pay a reinstatement fee. You can also carry out these steps after 120 days to apply for early reinstatement.
If your DUI involved drugs, the rules are different. Your license suspension will be for 180 days. There is no possibility of early reinstatement and no chance of a limited driving permit. The usual reinstatement requirements remain the same.
For drivers ages 16 to 20, there are also some differences. A first offense results in a six-month license suspension if your BAC was under 0.08 percent. If your BAC was higher, the suspension lasts for 12 months. Younger drivers also need to pay the pay to attend the Risk Reduction Program and pay the license reinstatement fee.
People convicted for a first DUI offense don’t usually spend a lot of time in jail. However, if you don’t complete all the court’s requirements, the judge can revoke your probation. As soon as possible after you’ve been charged, you need to contact a DUI attorney. They will explain the charges and possible penalties.
Call the Attorneys at Athens DUI Lawyers
Contact a DUI lawyer in Athens, GA today for a consultation. At Athens DUI Lawyers, we have the necessary skills to defend you in court. We will explain every step of the process and work to ensure you get the best possible outcome. Contact us today to discuss your case.