DUI in Georgia First Offense Rules
Even if this is your first offense DUI arrest ever, do not think that it is no big deal or that the judge will be lenient on you because this is your “first DUI”. Georgia criminal laws are among the toughest driving under the influence statutes in America, even for a first-time DUI. People facing an officer on a DUI 1st offense are shocked that after being handcuffed and arrested the police officer still wants a chemical test of breath, blood or urine, and you have no right to call a Georgia DUI attorney.
Don’t just think about minimizing jail time since most citizens facing a first DUI offense will not go back to jail beyond what they endured after bonding out of detention on the night of arrest. Your goal is to hire an experienced, veteran DUI lawyer who can keep a drunk driving conviction off your permanent criminal record. Don’t think that you can use the Georgia First Offender Act, because Georgia DUI laws PROHIBIT that from happening.
First Offense DUI Benefits and Limitations
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, the availability of driving privileges following a DUI in GA may depend on whether the driver is age 21 or over at the time of the case disposition.
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 offense DUI driver in Alabama could, but not in Georgia.
How Bad Is a First DUI?
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 DUI attorney near me, but not all criminal defense lawyers are best equipped to fight for the optimal outcome on a DUI in Georgia, which is found in GA Code 40-6-391.
This article explains implied consent law, and special statutory provisions relating to an arrested driver facing DUI in Georgia being asked (post-arrest) to agree to submit to additional testing to determine his or her alcohol or drugs level. For the last half century, reported appellate cases for the Georgia implied consent law are among the nation’s most favorable DUI-DWI decisions on appeal.
A First-Time Drunk Driving Offense Threatens Job Security
Quite a few companies and industries consider even a first DUI charge to be a basis for not hiring a person. High-security jobs will bar you from working for them, even for a first DUI conviction. Likewise, when it comes to jobs dealing with securities and the need for a securities license, your DUI charge first offense will be a problem.
On this page, you will learn how and why (even for a 1st offense DUI) you need to ignore cheap DUI lawyers and retain an experienced DUI attorney Atlanta. Georgia DUI laws have layers of complexity, and DUI penalties that may not be clear to a non-lawyer. This can be an issue that is seemingly insignificant, like advising you to take the state ignition interlock limited permit, when a better solution exists for example.
Then, be willing to be proactive and assist your DUI attorney in your first-time DUI defense! Remember, even on a 1st DUI, you are fighting Georgia criminal laws, and not a mere traffic infraction. In this page, the reasons to fight a Georgia law first offence DUI become apparent.
What Happens for Your First DUI Offense?
Some states specifically provide a statutory method under their state laws to request a judge to clear your record of a first DUI-DWI offense. However, this record restriction or “expunction” can only be done after a specified period (e.g., California is 10 years). Plus, in those states that allow a DUI to be expunged, this clearing of your record is available only if you commit no other criminal offenses.
In other states, like the state of Georgia, your record of a first offense DUI conviction can never be expunged. This lack of diversion, deferral, withholding judgment, and unavailability of the Georgia first offender act are why Georgia has been ranked the second most punitive state for its DUI penalties following conviction in a driving under the influence case.
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” in Georgia. Despite those very reasonable “first offender” provisions, O.C.G.A. 40-6-391 (f) of the Georgia DUI statute specifically makes the 1st offender act unavailable to a DUI offender. So, a DUI conviction in Georgia is a LIFETIME criminal record.
This means no expungement of a Georgia DUI. This means a DUI in Georgia stays on your record forever. Also, even a first offense DUI cannot be handled by diversion or withholding judgment, as is done in West Virginia, Mississippi, and Alabama, just to name a few states.
First Offense DUI in Georgia
If you have a Georgia DUI first offense on your criminal record, if you are convicted, the DUI penalties for that are set by Georgia DUI laws as mandatory, minimum punishments. These are the minimum, mandatory criminal penalties for DUI, and cannot be waived or excused.
The mandatory minimum punishments for a first offense DUI (video) in Georgia include:
1. 24 hours in jail (where your DUI test results are over the legal limit for adults, which is a 0.08 grams percent BAC level)
2. Perform at least 40 hours of community service;
3. Surrender your driver’s license to the GA Department of Driver Services, which is immediately suspended, subject to seeking to qualify for a GA DDS work permit GA (only Georgia licensees can qualify);
4. Pay fines of $300 to $1,000 plus statutory surcharges which will roughly double the fine amount. The amount of the fine is left up to the judge’s decision;
5. Successfully attend and complete the 20-hour DUI classes (also known as DUI school);
6. Obtain an alcohol and drugs evaluation from a Georgia licensed addiction specialist, whose recommendation for treatment or therapy must be followed;
7. For the rest of the 12-months, Georgia DUI laws MANDATE that you must remain on probation, after deducting for the days you spent in jail, following your DUI arrest. For example, after a 10-day jail sentence, a person would have to remain on probation, for 11 months and 20 days.
The purpose of mandatory probation is so the Court can sanction you if you get into more trouble. That’s the minimum mandatory punishment that is available under DUI laws in Georgia. This “barrier” causes substantial problems for those seeking to enter the military, or who are in law school and want to take the Bar exam, to be eligible for law practice. These two “disqualification” examples are merely a couple of the barriers to employment or advancement, and many other important similar situations will follow a DUI 1st offense in Georgia.
What About DUI License Suspension?
For a Georgia DUI conviction, the driver’s license consequences from a first offense DUI in Georgia include these key factors:l the Court and surrendered to Georgia DDS (the GA DMV office). This conviction suspends your right to drive immediately, until and unless you are eligible for reinstatement (by not having an implied consent violation from an administrative license suspension, under OCGA 40-5-67.1).
Plus, this must be your first DUI offense from any state, WITHIN FIVE 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 (work permit) in Georgia. A six-month minimum hard suspension for a first DUI offense drugs conviction is imposed. A 2nd DUI drugs offense within 5 years results in a one-year suspension. Without a work permit GA, you cannot driver AT ALL.
So, a rapist, a 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. This type of Legislative “singling out” of the crime of drunk driving is why so many people look for an experienced DUI lawyer with top lawyer ratings to fight a DUI in Georgia.
How A First DUI Offense Attorney Can Help
These highly restrictive and unfair Georgia DUI laws are why WE FIGHT FOR YOU. Why should a sex offender, burglar, or felony drug offender have access to the Georgia first offender act, and not a person with a first time DUI?
The job of your criminal defense lawyer (who is experienced and knowledgeable in impaired driving cases) has 7 important components:
1. Lift the WORRY off your Shoulders: Shift the STRESS and WORRY caused by this Georgia DUI arrest OFF your shoulders;
2. Protect Drivers’ License: Keep you driving, prevent total loss of your driving privileges under the administrative license suspension law, by use of Georgia’s new ignition interlock device (IID) option, which went into effect July 1, 2017, or by other means of assisting those not eligible for the IID limited permit (e.g., underage drivers, out-of-state license holders);
3. Case Investigation: Thoroughly investigate the case, the roadway location and conditions (slope, grade, under construction);
4. Filing Critical Motions: Through filing written motions (i.e., motion in limine, motion to suppress, speedy trial motion), to assert every viable legal attack available under Georgia laws on DUI, to eliminate some or all the state’s evidence;
5. Try to Negotiate, but be Ready for Trial: If a negotiated plea is not available that is satisfactory to the client, go to trial to “go for the win;”
6. By Plea Bargain or by Trial, find a non-DUI solution: Keep a DUI conviction off your criminal history;
7. Avoid jail time: A criminal defense attorney who is not a DUI specialist, will not be familiar with the dozens of quirky Georgia DUI laws and the interrelationship between the administrative license suspension and criminal laws in Georgia. These many laws create a trap for the unwary DUI lawyer and can create a “Catch 22” situation. To help citizens understand that, in most DUI cases HOPE exists, for a non-DUI disposition, our DUI law firm offers:
- FREE lawyer consultation with a PARTNER, with over 1,000 DUI cases under his belt;
- Attorneys Fee 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, or by bank wire transfer;
- FREE PDF copy of Mr. Head’s 430-Page Book, written for DUI clients;
- Dial us NOW at (404) 471-3420, for a FREE DUI lawyer consultation.
Why Choose Our DUI Lawyers For 1st DUI?
The three Georgia lawyers at our law office are true DUI specialists. Ex-cop Cory Yager, AVVO superstar Larry Kohn (over 400 attorney ratings), and Georgia’s recognized leader in DUI defense, William C. “Bubba” Head, with 42 years of law practice to his credit. All three Georgia DUI attorneys have been named to multiple Super Lawyers lists, and all three are published law book authors on drunken driving defense.
DUI specialists are criminal lawyers who contest their clients’ DUI cases, until and unless a reduction of charges is obtained, and have averaged non-DUI resolutions for not fewer than 50 cases per year for at least the past 7 years. Like needing immediate, emergency surgery, you need a person who does DUI defense EVERY day, and who does it successfully.
When a 2nd DUI or other complication exists (e.g., child endangerment), hiring cheap DUI lawyers or merely settling for the first DUI attorney near me is usually a one-way ticket to jail time. Our private criminal defense law firm focuses on CONTESTED GA DUI CASES, and we DO CHARGE for our services.
What If I Need a FREE DUI Lawyer?
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 representation by a DUI lawyer, but FREE DUI attorneys are at public defender offices, not private law firms. If you cannot afford a paid DUI attorney, contact your court, and ask how to qualify for an appointed DUI defense lawyer.
This article has thoroughly explained why you should take your DUI arrest seriously and take immediate steps to secure legal counsel for even your DUI first offense. The links below can answer other questions about various Georgia DUI laws, both administrative and criminal. Plus, the summary of Georgia DUI laws shows mandatory jail time for multiple offenders, as well as a 1st DUI on Georgia.
Links About Criminal Georgia DUI Laws
Main statute: O.C.G.A. 40-6-391
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
Implied Consent Notice: O.C.G.A. 40-5-67.1
Ignition Interlock Device Option: O.C.G.A. 40-5-64.1
Driver’s License Reinstatement: O.C.G.A. 40-5-63