Penalties and License Consequences for a Georgia DUI First Offense
If you have a Georgia DUI first offense on your criminal record, it remains on your criminal history for life. The penalties for that are set by GA law as mandatory minimum punishments. The mandatory minimum punishments for a first offender DUI is 24 hours in jail (where your DUI test results are over the legal limit), 40 hours community service, fines of $300 to $1,000 depending on the judge’s decision. In almost all DUI 1st offense cases, you will be required to attend the risk reduction "DUI school". Which is a 20 hour course in order for you to get your license reinstated (or your right to drive on the highways of Georgia, if you are license in another state).
These are the minimum standard criminal penalties, plus you will be placed on twelve months probation. Whatever jail time you don’t do, the rest of that twelve months must be on probation. For example, 11 months and twenty-nine days, you are going to be on probation so that the court can sanction you if you get into more trouble. That’s the minimum mandatory punishment that is available by law. Also, Georgia law has no first offender act on ANY DUI convictions. This means no expungement (expunction). This means a DUI stays on your record forever. Also, even a first offense cannot be handled by diversion or withholding judgment.
For a Georgia DUI conviction, the driver's license consequences from a first offense include these key factors:
a) Your license is confiscated by the Court and surrendered to DDS (DMV office). This conviction suspends your right to drive immediately, until and unless you are eligible (by virtue of submitting to the implied consent test after you cuffing and arrest). Plus, this must be your first DUI offense from any state, WITHIN FIVE (5) years (as opposed to the 10 year look back for a DUI first offense on CRIMINAL charges of driving under the influence).
b) A DUI-drugs conviction does not permit the driver to get a limited driving permit. A minimum hard suspension for a first offense DUI drugs conviction is imposed. A Second offense DUI drugs results in a one year suspension.
Most criminal defense lawyers who do not limit their law practice to DUI defense are not familiar with the dozens of quirky laws and license suspension "Catch 22" situations. By way of example, almost every other felony and misdemeanor offense under Georgia law allows an accused citizen to take advantage of the "first offender act". Not DUI, however. So, a rapist or burglar or an armed robber can get special sentencing conditions that may restrict future employers from seeing his or her state criminal record, but the first DUI offender is not given that opportunity.
These kinds of laws are why WE FIGHT FOR YOU. Our job is three-fold:
1) Keep you driving.
2) Keep you out of jail.
3) Keep a DUI conviction off your criminal history.
Our private criminal defense law firm focuses on CONTESTED GA DUI CASES, and we DO CHARGE for our services. Georgia has a system of FREE DUI LAWYERS in every single court, because every DUI mandates probation, or jail, or both. So if your income level permits you to qualify for a public defender or a court-appointed DUI lawyer, go to these people for your drunk driving defense.
You can't be denied a DUI attorney, but FREE attorneys are at public defender offices, not private law firms. You should take your DUI arrest seriously, and take immediate steps to secure legal counsel for even your first offense.
10 Day Driver's License Warning
Because most initial court dates are more than 30 days after a Georgia DUI arrest, even if you cannot afford an attorney, you SHOULD pay the $150 filing fee on your appeal of your administrative license suspension WITHIN 10 BUSINESS DAYS after your arrest. Go to this LINK to learn more about how to file your DDS appeal letter after your license is confiscated.