Driving under the influence in Georgia is regarded as a serious traffic violation. The state comes down heavily upon driving under the influence. This is especially the case, considering the consequences that follow DUI arrests in Georgia.
Every year in Georgia, there are hundreds of millions of dollars lost due to incidents involving driving under the influence. In order to try and curb these occurrences, the state of Georgia implemented its DUI laws.
While getting arrested for a Georgia DUI might be a serious event, if you’re quick enough, there’s a lot you can do to mitigate your circumstances or even avoid some of the more serious consequences.
But, much of your hopes depend on what you do immediately after being arrested for a DUI and within the first few stages of the DUI process.
What is a DUI in Georgia and when does it occur?
Also called driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving under the influence is a crime that occurs when you drive or operate a vehicle if you’re doing so in an impaired state or under the influence of some intoxicating substance such as alcohol.
Unlike what you’re probably thinking, a DUI is not only limited to when you’re driving your vehicle down some road while under the influence and then get pulled over. You can also get arrested for a DUI even when your vehicle is parked.
The vehicle doesn’t have to be moving under the power of the engine either. If you’re sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle that is coasting without its engine on, you can still be arrested for a DUI if you're found to be impaired.
And even worse, you don’t actually need to have been affected by the alcohol or whatever substance you had ingested. You could be arrested if the officer suspects you have been drinking. Georgia is effectively a zero tolerance state.
A DUI arrest in Georgia is initiated when you get pulled over by a police officer ... usually for a minor traffic infraction such as failing to maintain your lane. Once pulled over, you may be subjected to field sobriety tests and may also be asked to take a blood or breath test, also known as a Breathalyzer.
The sobriety test will require you to go through motions that are aimed at testing your motor skills and the level of their impairment. The breath test is particularly used to test your Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level. If you fail either test, you will be arrested and your driving license seized on the spot.
For drivers under the age of 21, the legal limit for a BAC is less than .02. Anything above this will lead to a DUI charge. If you’re over 21, a DUI is committed if your BAC is found to be .08 or higher. Commercial drivers have a more stringent limit as they’re not allowed to go up to .04 or higher.
Implied consent warning
It’s useful to talk about this here because it can have a real effect on how your case proceeds. In the state of Georgia, persons arrested on charge of a DUI do not have a whole range of rights in relation to the arrest.
You can’t claim your Miranda rights (the right to be informed of why you’re being arrested and your choice to remain silent) in a DUI arrest. It only really applies when you’re already in custody and are being questioned.
However, if you’re arrested for a DUI, there’s one right you can call on. Under Georgia state law, a traffic official that has pulled you over on the suspicion of having committed a DUI must inform you of the Georgia “Implied Consent laws” before requiring you to take a field, blood or breathalyzer test.
The implied consent law simply means that as a registered driver in Georgia, you have impliedly consented to have your blood or breath sample taken upon suspicion of a DUI.
This right is very serious as a failure to inform you of your implied consent can result in a full dismissal of the case against you.
Consequences of a DUI arrest in Georgia
A person arrested on a DUI in Georgia will be exposed to a range of penalties. These penalties will only get worse with frequency of offending and conviction.
This is because a DUI is one of those offenses that takes the number of times a person has been convicted into consideration when the time for sentencing comes. So, while a DUI is ordinarily a misdemeanor, it can become a much more serious felony quickly.
And that’s not all. Even if you’re a first time offender, you can get very stiff penalties if you are convicted of DUI Child Endangerment, Serious Injury by Vehicle or Vehicular Homicide.
The penalties for a DUI conviction may be jail term, fines, community service or probation. They are generally as follows:
- For a first DUI conviction:
- Jail time ranging from 1 day to 1 year;
- Fines ranging from $300 - $1000, plus surcharges;
- Driver’s license suspension of up to 1 year;
- 40 Hours of Community service;
- $210 Set license reinstatement fee; and
- For a second DUI conviction:
- A Minimum mandatory 48 hours in jail, possible 90 days to 1 year;
- Fine of $600-$1,000;
- License suspension of 3 years;
- Minimum 30 days’ community service;
- $210 Set license reinstatement fee;
- A mandatory clinical evaluation and, if indicated, completion of a substance abuse treatment program at the offender's expense.
- For a third DUI conviction:
- Minimum mandatory 15 days jail time;
- Fine of $1,000-$5,000;
- License revocation for five years;
- Minimum mandatory 30 days community service;
- Violator's name, photo, and address published in local newspaper at violator's expense;
- Declared as habitual violator, seizure of license plate by the court and forwarding to the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety;
- Mandatory clinical evaluation and, if indicated, completion of substance abuse treatment program at the offender's expense.
How can your attorney help you avoid conviction?
Depending on how quick you can contact a competent Georgia DUI lawyer after being arrested and the circumstances of your case, you can give yourself a very good chance of escaping from the DUI chance unscathed.
This is because a skilled DUI lawyer knows the intricacies of the DUI laws and the legal defenses you can raise to escape conviction for a DUI. If you involve your lawyer in the DUI process early enough, they can get to work on laying the necessary groundwork to ensure that the case against you doesn’t go to motions or trial and you can get back to driving before long.
And if your case does go to motions or trial, there’s no better individual to have by your side than a dedicated DUI lawyer with years of experience helping persons like you fight their DUI cases.
If you’d like to know more about the DUI process and its consequences or how a lawyer can help you in the process, please call 404-369-0048 to get in touch with us for free advice.
And if you already have a DUI case on your hands, you can just skip the formalities and book a free appointment here for a no-obligation assessment of your case.