A DUI conviction is no laughing matter. If a court finds you guilty of driving under the influence in Georgia, the consequences can be wide-ranging. You can lose your license, freedom, and reputation. You may think that things get better after a few years but this is not the case. If you have a DUI charge, a DUI lawyer in Athens can help.
There’s a lot of incorrect information circulating about how long a DUI conviction stays on your record. Much of it stems from a misunderstanding of Georgia’s laws. However, we’re here to clear things up for you.
A DUI conviction actually stays on your record forever like any other criminal conviction. This means if you plead guilty or a court finds you guilty, you will carry this for life. Many people get this confused with the state’s ten-year lookback period. The latter refers to how long the court will hold previous offenses against you. Punishment becomes more severe depending on how many convictions you accumulate within a ten-year period.
Penalties for a DUI in Georgia, Explained by a DUI Lawyer in Athens
In an effort to reduce the likelihood of drunk driving, the authorities have enacted stiff penalties. Regardless of whether it is your first offense, you can spend up to a year in jail. For a first DUI offense, you risk a fine of between $300 and $1,000. Your driver’s license could also be suspended for up to one year.
If you get a second conviction in ten years, the minimum fine is $600. Your license could be suspended for up to three years. This could be followed by the installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. You will be required to undergo a clinical evaluation and go to substance abuse counseling.
For a third offense, the fine increases to between $1,000 and $5,000. Your license can be suspended for up to five years. In addition, the media will publish your name, address, and photo. You will be declared a habitual violator.
If you go on to record a fourth conviction, this is a felony. You can spend up to five years in prison and have your license suspended for up to ten years. Your fine would be between $1,000 and $5,000.
Even if more than ten years have passed since your last DUI, the conviction could still impact you. The look-back period only indicates the minimum fines and jail time you could serve. The judge can still look at your entire history when deciding how to sentence you. This means past offenders are likely to face stiffer penalties regardless of how long ago the last DUI was.
Why Hiring an Experienced DUI Lawyer in Athens is Important
There are only two ways a DUI can be expunged from your record in Georgia. You have to either win a jury or bench trial or have your case dismissed by the prosecutor. The only way to get either of these outcomes is to have an attorney who can build a strong defense. You have to fight the case to get to get your name cleared, and you won’t be able to do this on your own. You need a DUI lawyer in Athens who knows the state laws and who has experience contesting DUIs in court.
DUI cases aren’t like many other criminal cases. Your attorney needs to understand the chemical tests and their results. They also have to know the correct police procedures for handling a DUI suspect. Their ability to spot procedural errors could be key in clearing your name. A good DUI lawyer in Athens will question whether:
- The police officer had a valid reason for stopping you
- You were properly advised of your rights
- The police officer had probable cause to arrest you
- Your breath test was conducted properly
- Correct handling was used for the blood sample
- The arresting officer has a history of disciplinary problems
These are just some of the basic things your DUI lawyer in Athens will investigate. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, there are other things to look for.
Contact a DUI Lawyer in Athens Today to Keep a DUI Off Your Record
At Athens DUI Lawyers, our attorneys are dedicated to defending people who have DUI charges. We know how detrimental it can be to have a DUI on your record. It can jeopardize your prospects for jobs and scholarships and irreparably damage your professional standing. We will defend you in criminal court and fight for your driver’s license in an administrative hearing. A DUI lawyer in Athens, GA can get you the best results. Contact us today to get the advice and representation you need.