Facing Charges of DUI in Georgia
Driving under the influence charge can be overwhelming. If convicted, a driver can face serious consequences, including jail time, fines, and a driver’s license suspension. These consequences can significantly impact your daily life and your ability to work or seek employment.
It’s important to understand that DUI laws in Georgia don’t just apply to alcohol. It is also illegal to drive under the influence of prescription drugs, illegal drugs, or a combination of these substances with alcohol.
According to Georgia Department of Driver’s Services (DDS) DUI Data Reports, Georgia convictions are decreasing. In 2020 there were 12,008 convictions, 50% fewer than in 2016 (24,603). Even though the overall number of DUI convictions is decreasing, one trend has remained the same over the years. First DUI convictions make up the overwhelming majority of overall DUI convictions. In 2020, there were 10,516 first DUI convictions, 1,324 were convicted of a second DUI, and only 168 third DUI convictions.
DUI charges are not something you should be handling alone. GA DUI laws are very technical and constantly changing. They can be hard to understand without the assistance of an experienced DUI attorney.
Our DUI attorneys at Farnsworth & Murphy LLC can assist you in defending against DUI charges. We can guide you through Georgia DUI laws and advise you on what steps to take after a DUI arrest.
What Are Georgia DUI Laws?
Georgia Code contains several provisions dealing with impaired driving. Some describe what qualifies as a DUI offense, while others describe the consequences of DUI offenses. We will discuss a few of these laws.
Understanding Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits in Georgia
In Georgia, it is forbidden to be in actual physical control of a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams or more. Commercial vehicle drivers can be charged with drunk driving if they have 0.04% alcohol content in their urine, breath, or blood. On the other hand, Georgia drivers under 21 can’t drive if the BAC is 0.02% or more.
Moreover, Georgia drivers are forbidden to operate a motor vehicle if they have any amount of illegal drugs or marijuana in their blood or urine.
But, drivers can be convicted even if they are found to have less than 0.08% of BAC. It has to be proven that these drivers were impaired to the extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
The Legal Process for DUI: From Arrest to Sentencing
There are several steps in the DUI criminal procedure in Georgia. They include:
- DUI Stop: A law enforcement officer must have a reasonable belief that an individual is a less safe driver due to impairment by drugs or alcohol
- DUI Arrest: If the officer suspects a DUI, an individual is arrested, informed of their rights, and obligated to comply with chemical tests
- Arraignment: At the arraignment, the individual can plea guilty or not guilty
- Trial: If the individual pleads not guilty, the case proceeds to the trial. Since DUI is a criminal offense, the prosecution must prove the individual’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
However, DUI consists of two separate procedures. There is also an administrative procedure. Once the police arrest someone for a DUI offense, they face an automatic license suspension. But, they can appeal their license suspension and schedule an Administrative License Suspension hearing. Furthermore, they may be required to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.
Implied Consent Law
According to Georgia’s implied consent law, any person who operates a motor vehicle in the State of Georgia has given consent to chemical testing of their blood, breath, or urine to determine if any alcohol or drug is present in their system. This testing is done if an individual is arrested and suspected of impaired driving.
Penalties for DUI Offenses in Georgia
Typically, driving under the influence is a misdemeanor. However, Georgia DUI penalties depend on whether that is someone’s first offense and the severity of the offense.
Potential penalties for the first DUI conviction in Georgia include:
- From 24 hours to a year of jail time
- From $300 to $1,000 in fines
- At least 20 hours (or 40 hours if BAC was 0.08% or more) of community service
- Up to 12 months of driver’s license suspension
Potential penalties for a second DUI conviction in 10 years include:
- From 72 hours to 12 months in jail
- From $600 to $1,000 in fines
- At least 30 hours of community service
- Up to three years of the license suspension period
If an individual faces a second DUI conviction within five years, there are additional consequences. For example, the driver can be required to surrender license plates to any vehicle registered in their name.
A third DUI is considered a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. In other words, after a third DUI conviction, an individual can face harsher penalties, including:
- 15 days to 12 months of jail time
- $1,000 to $5,000 in fines
- 240 hours of community service
- Vehicle forfeiture to the state in cases of a third DUI conviction within five years.
A fourth DUI conviction is a felony. It can carry the following penalties:
- One to five years in prison
- Fines of $1,000 to $5,000
- At least five years of probation
Other potential penalties for any DUI conviction can involve completing substance abuse treatment, DUI Risk Reduction course or DUI School, and 12 months of probation. Any time served in jail can be deducted from the probation time.
Aggravating Factors and Enhanced Penalties
If an impaired driver transports a minor passenger, the driver can be charged with a separate offense of child endangerment. A conviction can add additional jail time and fines to DUI penalties. Moreover, if a DUI results in an accident in which someone is killed or injured, the driver can face additional charges and penalties.
How Farnsworth & Murphy, LLC, Can Help in DUI Cases
Our DUI attorneys can help in a DUI case in several ways, including:
- Examining the circumstances of your arrest
- Challenging the BAC test results or testing procedure
- Assisting with Administrative License Suspension hearing
- Negotiating a potential plea with the prosecution
Want to Know More About DUI Laws? Contact Us!
Any DUI case can be challenging, with potential repercussions such as jail time, fines, probation, and license suspension.
The situation might not be hopeless because you might have a solid defense. The skill of an attorney well-versed in Georgia laws can prove invaluable, paving the way for the optimal resolution of your case.
Trust Farnsworth & Murphy, LLC, to leverage our knowledge and skills, ensuring the best possible outcome for your DUI defense. If you have more questions about Georgia DUI laws, reach out to our criminal lawyers to schedule a consultation.