By: William C. Head, Atlanta DUI attorney and Defense of Drunk Driving Book author since 1991
On this page you will learn about an Atlanta DUI first offense charge and the related Georgia DUI penalties. DUI punishment in the State of Georgia is among the nation’s toughest drunk driving laws.
Thus, even for a 1st offense DUI in GA you need to ignore cheap DUI lawyers near me. Your best bet is to retain experienced, successful Georgia DUI attorneys to have the very best shot at a reckless driving or other reduction of charges.
Other motor vehicle crimes (but not a DUI) can be probated and then be terminated early. The Peach State’s drunk driving GA provisions under the provisions of GA Code 40-6-391, no convictions or nolo contendere pleas to DUI in GA qualify for early termination, first offender, diversion or conditional discharge.
If convicted of DUI, Georgia minimum mandatory sentences and first offense DUI penalties in Georgia under our state’s drinking and driving laws include license suspension, possible jail time and a permanent criminal record. Plus, many other DUI consequences and punishment for DUI GA are part of Georgia’s mandatory punishments.
For example, the misdemeanor DUI in Georgia 1st offense probation period is for a full year and cannot be shortened. DUI cases in Georgia that are repeat offenses in dramatically increase penalties under Georgia sentencing guidelines.
Minor, temporary issues like the DUI fine in GA are the least of your concerns when facing DUI cases in Georgia. New DUI offenses, when added to a person’s criminal record, bring mandatory harsh punishment under Georgia sentencing laws. Plus, when Georgia DDS reports the conviction and license suspension, this can torpedo your insurance rating.
DUI Laws in Georgia First Offense
What happens to first time DUI offense in Georgia? The DUI statute in Georgia, 40 6 391, has layers of complexity. In simple terms, it proscribes being behind the wheel and impaired when it is less safe for the person to drive.
If the investigating law enforcement officer concludes that you are incapable of driving safely, he or she can arrest you for violating OCGA 40-6-391. Lawyers often call this a “DUI less safe” case.
When an officer puts the cuffs on you, he or she is taking you to jail on the “less safe” DUI charge under 40-6-391(a)(1) for DUI alcohol or 40-6-391(a)(2) for DUI drugs. The legality of the police coming onto contact with you (e.g., at a DUI checkpoint) or basis of traffic offense can be legal issues raised by DUI attorneys near me.
Under laws in Georgia, the suspected impairment can be from being under the influence of any drug, or toxic vapor. Commonly, roadside sobriety tests are given by a law enforcement officer who investigates you, but the best DUI lawyers in Georgia know how to neutralize these non-scientific evaluations.
The essence of a DUI in Georgia first offense case is that you are accused of either being “less safe” (being incapable of driving safely) due to alcohol, drugs or other impairing substance. The Georgia Supreme Court is the final arbiter of “what is DUI law” and has stated that impairment by ANY drug to the extent of impairment is enough to convict.
Georgia driving under the influence law has another “type” of intoxicated driving offense. This one depends upon the officer collecting a forensic sample of breath, blood or urine (or more than one form of testing. Such post-arrest testing is authorized by GA implied consent laws.
This category of DUI driving does not involve any proof of the driver being impaired. Merely having an unlawful alcohol level can support a DUI per se conviction. Plus, under separate subsections, either alcohol or the presence of certain drugs (marijuana, PCP and others) can constitute a per se DUI charge.
The Georgia DUI limit varies by age of driver and by type of vehicle being operated. Plus, the DUI per se Georgia test collected must be within 3 hours of the driving ending, for any alcohol BAC levels.
All drivers under age 21 are held to a 0.02 grams percent BAC limit, operators of a commercial motor vehicle are relegated to a 0.04 grams percent legal alcohol limit GA, and all adult drivers GA drinking limit of 0.08 grams percent. Knowing your Georgia alcohol limit and moderating consumption accordingly can possibly prevent being over the legal limit.
New 10-Year Look Back Increased the Percentage of Repeat Offense DUIs in Georgia
Looking at current DUI laws and the related punishments for DUI, penalties and legal pitfalls may not be clear to a non-lawyer. On July 1, 2008 the Georgia Legislature significantly changed our state’s DUI consequences under GA DUI law. This was done by extending the look back period (for mandatory, minimum DUI punishment under of criminal laws) to ten years.
By expanding this “look back” period to 10 years from the previous 5-year look back, a substantial number of repeat offenders face difficult punishment for DUI second offense or other repeat offense accusations. A first offense will permit drivers age 21 and over to get an immediate limited permit, with generous provisions for important things like transporting your children. Such transportation flexibility is not available on Georgia 2nd DUI in 5 years.
The very harsh consequences of a third DUI offense (high and aggravated punishment) or 4th DUI felony have created a high urgency to hire only the best Atlanta DUI lawyers. Also, issues relating to maintaining driving privileges are still being measured with a five-year lookback. So, a conviction of Georgia DUI laws second offense or 3rd DUI offense in Georgia in the past 5 years triggers a 3-year suspension or 5-year revocation, respectively.
Plus, the administrative license suspension peril is very real. A seemingly insignificant issue, like advising you to take the State ignition interlock limited permit, when a better solution exists, can be disastrous for some drivers. You only have 30 days after your arrest date to act, and this can’t be solved (in many cases) by waiting until the last minute.
Then, be willing to be proactive and assist your DUI defense lawyer in your DUI in Georgia 1st offense! Remember, even on a 1st offense DUI you are fighting Georgia criminal laws and not a mere traffic infraction. Receiving a ticket for DUI is one of the serious driving offenses.
The consequences and implications go far beyond merely being guilty of a misdemeanor. In this page, the reasons to fight a Georgia law first offence DUI become apparent. The necessity to only retain an experienced DUI attorney Atlanta becomes crystal clear.
For a DUI in Georgia, How Much Jail Time for DUI?
When our office phones ring, and a person asks us “how long do you go to jail for DUI?” our immediate response is IF convicted it depends on prior DUI history and several other factors. Car crashes and traffic fatalities are some of the obstacles our lawyers in Atlanta must overcome on a regular basis.
This important part here is “if convicted.” Our law firm knows that our #1 job is to help our clients avoid conviction on the driving under the influence charge.
If you ever wondered, “how much is a DUI ticket,” or “do you go to jail for a DUI,” this page outlines those tough punishments, if convicted of a 2nd DUI in GA, 3rd DUI offense in GA or 4th DUI conviction.
Georgia DUI sentencing laws for drunk driving rapidly increase in mandatory minimum punishments for those who reoffend. For those asking, can you go to jail for a DUI,” the truth is YES. But, and jail time or DUI costs at court are a mere pittance, compared to insurance premium hikes and future job challenges you will face with a first DUI in GA.
DUI Laws in GA: How Bad Is A First DUI in Georgia?
Clients often ask our law group: “What is the DUI first offense jail time?” Our answer is, “only if convicted of impaired driving, as a general rule.” Our law firm’s stated goals are to keep you driving and NOT have a DUI on your record.
Before you search for DUI lawyers near me, by understanding what you are facing, in a DUI first offense, you will be aware of the worst punishment, and be cognizant of the LIFETIME criminal record that a drunk driving conviction creates. You need a lawyer near me, but not all criminal defense lawyers are experienced and best equipped to fight for the optimal outcome of a DUI in GA. which is found in the impaired driving code section GA: 40-6-391.
Even if this is your DUI 1st offense arrest ever, do not think that DUI is no big deal. Don’t think that the judge will be lenient on you because this is your “first DUI,” since Georgia criminal laws are among the toughest driving under the influence statutes in America. So, the judge can’t do much to help a first time DUI in GA.
For the last two decades, the nolo contendere plea has been virtually unavailable to drivers and does not prevent the offense being listed as a “conviction.” For this reason, retaining legal counsel IMMEDIATELY is critical, to protect the evidence that may otherwise disappear.
Plus, not only do our State’s laws cover driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but also other substances and chemicals of ANY type, including noxious vapors (like sniffing glue). The license suspension for DUI-drugs is far tougher than for alcohol. Plus, the education programs used by some judges for DUI-drug offenses is more costly and time-consuming.
The Georgia Legislature has seen fit to increase punishments within the Georgia Code for several categories of motorists, including the commercial driver (who has a CDL license and is in a big rig truck, bus or other commercial motor vehicle, as defined by GA laws). Underage drivers suffer more lengthy suspensions, as do any citizens convicted of DUI-drugs.
Administrative License Suspension Often Follows a DUI Arrest in Georgia
Plus, for over forty years, DUI laws in GA have authorized officers to seize your driver license as part of a DUI arrest. This occurs as an administrative license suspension proceeding wherein the State of Georgia DDS seeks to suspend for a refusal to submit to implied consent breathalyzer testing (e.g., alcohol breath test).
If your driver license was taken and replaced by a piece of paper CALL our lawyers in Atlanta NOW, to try to avoid being suspended. 404-567-5515. The lawyer consultation is FREE.
Georgia laws call any post-arrest blood, breath or urine collection under implied consent laws a “chemical test.” Another type of administrative driver license suspension can be imposed for taking the test and being over the legal limit.
In addition, special rules apply to any driver under 21 years of age or operating a commercial motor vehicle. For those under 21 years old, any DUI conviction causes a “hard” suspension, meaning “no limited permit.” For a CDL driver, he or she cannot operate a big rig or other commercial vehicle on a paper license., under federal regulations.
First Offense DUI Benefits and Limitations Compared to a Conviction of a 2nd DUI In GA
Their next concern is that they save their drivers’ license. Depending upon whether the driving under the influence case was based on alcohol or drug quantities in the person’s system, the driver’s license punishment can be greater for DUI-drugs. Plus, a six-month period of NO DRIVING applies to a first offense DUI-drug conviction.
On all first offense D.U.I. cases the availability of driving privileges (this is called early reinstatement) will require the driver to two things. First, obtain a clinical evaluation from a state-approved counselor, to identify possible addiction issues.
Second, a reinstatement fee is required to be paid to Georgia DDS. This is true whether the driver is age 21 or over at the time of the case disposition. But, a D.U.I. in Georgia first offense under 21 may be delayed in regaining his or her driver’s license.
A DUI refusal of implied consent testing, after being arrested, can lead to total loss of all driving privileges for 12 months at the Georgia Department of Driver Services (Georgia DDS.) Any driver who (at the time of the guilty plea or trial resulting in a DUI conviction) is under age 21 cannot get a limited permit, even after a 1st offense DUI. A 1st offence DUI driver in Alabama could, but not Georgia.
Drunk Driving Laws in GA
This article explains implied consent law, and its special statutory provisions under OCGA 40-5-55, 40-5-67.1 and other statutes. All such provisions relate to an arrested citizen who is facing a DUI Georgia.
He or she will be asked by the arresting officer (post-arrest) to agree to submit to additional chemical testing to determine his or her blood alcohol content (BAC). For suspected drugged driving, a blood extraction will be sought in order to determine the person’s concentration of drug levels.
A Glimpse of Georgia Driving Under the Influence Laws: 1st DUI Through 4th DUI
For a quick glance of DUI penalties in the Peach State, see this GA DUI grid sheet.
No matter what negative impact a DUI 1st offense may bring, the DUI penalties for a second offense DUI jump significantly. For example, community service for a 1st GA DUI is 40 hours. By contrast, a DUI second offense within 10 years goes up to 30 days of community service, or 240 hours. In addition, you will serve not less than 72 hours in jail.
Either a DUI 3rd offense or 4th DUI felony can have up to $5,000 fines and surcharges that match the fine amount. Plus, the felony drunk driving can bring up to 5 years in state prison.
On a Georgia 1st DUI, the DUI fine cost is between $300 and $1,000 plus surcharges and add-ons. With a DUI second offense, this has a $600 to $1000 range, plus surcharges.
When drugs are the impairing substance, the DUI Georgia drug penalties under our State’s D.U.I. laws are even more punitive. First, total loss of driving privileges follows any drugged driving conviction, with 6 months for a first DUI-drugs and 3 years of a DUI drugs second offense within the past 5 years. Second, the surcharges tacked onto you fine will be higher.
A 3rd Georgia DUI takes the mandatory jail sentence to 15 days and fines up to $5,000 plus state surcharges and add-ons. Plus, forget about driving for a couple of years, if the 3rd in 5 DUI hits your record.
A 2nd DUI in GA (or subsequent conviction) can virtually make a person unemployable, for most jobs. Plus, a third DUI in 5 years triggers a 5-year license revocation and will take away the entire ability to drive for at least 2 full years.
When Is a DUI a Felony in Georgia?
The 4th drunk driving charge is a felony DUI, if within 10 years, based on dates of arrest. This fact justifies hiring a top criminal attorney near me for your DUI defense. Plus, as opposed to drug possession charges, DUI charges are ineligible for First Offender Act record restriction.
In addition to the foregoing, a DUI accident that has serious bodily injury or death to another will be indicted or accused as a felony serious injury by vehicle or vehicular homicide in the first degree. Each of these potential felonies carries up to 15 years per injury or death, which can be stacked and added onto each other, end-to-end.
Why Choose Our DUI Lawyers for a 1st DUI?
The three Georgia lawyers at our law office are true DUI specialists. No matter which law firms near me you investigate, no other criminal defense lawyers in Atlanta will have better credentials for drunk driving defense, so why settle for a less qualified and experienced criminal lawyer near me?
Ex-cop Cory Yager, AVVO superstar Larry Kohn (over 470 attorney ratings), and Georgia’s recognized leader in DUI defense, William C. “Bubba” Head, with 43 years of aggressive criminal law practice to his credit.
Mr. Head has been responsible for shaping DUI case law Georgia during his criminal law career. All three Georgia drunk driving attorneys have been named to multiple Super Lawyers lists, and all three are published law book authors on drunken driving defense.
To explain how this may be accomplished in your DUI case, our DUI law firm offers:
FREE lawyer consultation with a PARTNER, with over 1,000 DUI cases under his belt;
Attorneys’ fees payment plans;
24-hour lawyer availability;
Our lawyers in Georgia prefer to meet you in person, or by way of video conference;
Payment in cash, credit cards, check or bank wire transfer;
FREE PDF copy of Mr. Head’s 430-page book, written for DUI clients;
Helpful Information About Criminal GA DUI Laws and Our Georgia DUI Attorneys
Main statute: O.C.G.A. 40-6-391
Georgia DUI schools for Risk Reduction DUI classes
DUI Testing Statute: O.C.G.A. 40-6-392
Felony Vehicular Homicide: O.C.G.A. 40-3-394
Felony Serious Injury by Vehicle: O.C.G.A. 40-3-394
Links About Administrative License Suspension
Implied Consent Statute: O.C.G.A. 40-5-55
DUI meaning: The many DUI-DWI acronyms used in other states: DWI, OUI, OWI, OVI, DWAI, DUII, DWUI, OMVI.
Helpful Georgia DUI infographic
Helpful blood alcohol level chart
Best Law Firms in America:
Bubba Head is Board-Certified by the National College for DUI Defense