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Georgia DUI Laws: Is a DUI a Felony in GA?

Under GA DUI laws, is a DUI a criminal offense? In Georgia, you can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if a law enforcement officer believes that your ability to drive has been impaired because of alcohol or drug use. By far, blood alcohol impaired driving cases represent all but 1 in 10 cases in most states.

The United States is the world's only nation that lacks a singular, federal law (national law) that applies to driving while intoxicated. Less than 1% of drunk drivers get arrested on federal property (like military bases, national parks, etc.)

Different types of DUI charges exist in Georgia, meaning that some cases involve misdemeanor offense, some involve high and aggravated misdemeanor punishment, and other cases are felony prosecutions. This article focuses on highlighting DUI penalties in Georgia.

GA DUI Laws
10 Commonly Asked Questions About DUI Laws In Georgia
  1. Is a DUI a felony or misdemeanor in the Peach State? This short answer is YES, in all cases, a DUI in GA will be either a misdemeanor or felony offense.
  2. Is a DUI considered a crime? Because a minority of states have infractions that are not characterized as a felony or misdemeanor crime, many out of state drivers ask our lawyers for DUI near me "is a DUI a criminal charge?"
  3. Again, the answer in GA is "yes," to "is a DUI considered a criminal offense." Driving under the influence (DUI) in Georgia is always a criminal prosecution, and not a civil matter. In addition, the Georgia Legislature placed a prohibition in OCGA 40-6-391, the DUI Georgia statute [subsection (f)], that bars using Georgia's first offender law so that a conviction could be expunged or removed later.

    So, any DUI Georgia first offense poses the risk of that accused citizen having a permanent, lifetime criminal record. While well over 90% of DUI arrests in GA are only a misdemeanor criminal offense, this lifetime record impediment can be daunting for certain type of jobs and vocations, to a person's future.

  4. What is considered a DUI in Georgia? Driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle. In most arrests, driving is observed, or easily provable by eyewitnesses (e.g., after an accident involving two or more vehicles.
  5. Interestingly, state laws apply to the substantive charges, but federal procedural laws apply to any courtroom proceedings. Thus, in Georgia, and accused citizen facing driving intoxicated charges has the absolute right to a jury trial, only a "bench" trial (judge-only) is permitted if the crime occurred on federal land.

  6. How common is it for drivers to operate a motor vehicle impaired each year? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), well over 110 million times each year, an intoxicated driver or drugged driver puts other at risk. Since police arrest fewer than 1 million people in the USA annually, detection is apparently very low.
MHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tracks all types of statistics for drugged drivers and drunken drivers.

If I was given a DUI ticket, but not arrested, am I still facing criminal charges for drunk driving? While arrest for DUI in GA is the norm, no case dismissal is authorized under law sin Georgia, just because you did not go to jail. During COVID, detention rules were modified. Plus, some injured DUI drivers are not put in jail on the night of their arrest.

  • Does a DUI count as a criminal offense in GA? If convicted, yes.
  • Can you get a DUI on private property in Georgia? Absolutely, since GA law applies "anywhere within the State."
  • Can I assert a "no driving defense" if no officer saw me driving? This can be asserted, but officers are trained to collect proof of recent operation of that vehicle, and then locate the key fob or key that cranks the ignition (in your possession).
  • How many DUIs are given a year in the State of Georgia? The number is greatly diminished since rideshare services became common. From a high of 90,000 arrests in the early 1990s, the numbers in 2021 will likely be between 18,000 and 22,000.
  • Where can I find the DWI-DUI washout period by State? This non-profit site has "lookback" information for each state.
  • If I am on federal lands, when accused of federal DUI charges, do federal DUI laws apply or Georgia DUI law? Interestingly, state laws apply to the substantive charges, but federal procedural laws apply to any courtroom proceedings.
  • 24 hour dui law firm (404) 567-5515

    Thus, in Georgia, and accused citizen facing driving intoxicated charges has the absolute right to a jury trial, only a "bench" trial (judge-only) is permitted if the crime occurred on federal land. If convicted, that offender would be sent to a federal prison, if any jail time is given.

    Under Georgia law, all criminal offenses are classified as either misdemeanors or felonies. Plus, all other Georgia traffic offenses such as speeding or running a red light also are considered misdemeanor offenses.

    A misdemeanor in Georgia is punishable with up to a 12-month period of incarceration and a $1000 fine. With many other judicial and DUI punishment issues, why not take advantage of a FREE consultation for a DUI lawyer near me?

    Georgia DUI Laws and Jail Time
    Felony Convictions: When Is a DUI Considered a Felony?

    Generally, a DUI conviction in Georgia is a misdemeanor. However, if you have been charged with a fourth or subsequent conviction within a 10-year period (measured by dates-of-arrest), you will be charged with a DUI Georgia felony.

    If you have three convictions (on arrests made on July 1, 2008, and thereafter), then any subsequent conviction within ten years would be a felony DUI charge in Georgia. A felony DUI in Georgia is subject to imprisonment of not less than one year in jail and not more than five years in jail.

    DUI felony Georgia punishment: Felony DUIs are not common and are potentially serious offenses. Therefore, it is important for you to speak with an experienced Atlanta DUI lawyer at Kohn & Yager. The DUI attorneys at Kohn & Yager have the experience navigating such cases and can sometimes have a felony DUI reduced to a misdemeanor offense that is not a violation of O.C.G.A. Section 40-6-391.

    Georgia Uses a Ten-Year Look-Back Period or "Washout Period"

    The look back period for DUI offenses in Georgia is 10 years. This means that if you are arrested and charged for DUI within 10 years of your first conviction, you will be charged as a second offender. The potential penalties increase upon second and third DUI convictions. Review the full Georgia DUI penalties chart below:

    GA DUI Laws and Penalties Infograph

    Georgia has no expungement law that (after a period of years) a criminal offense ten can be removed from your record. You will always have to explain to future employers, college admission officials, and car rental companies that you got a DUI 10, 20, or even 30 years ago.

    What to Do If Charged With DUI But Have Not Been Convicted

    It is important to contact a Georgia DUI defense attorney who not only knows the law but can effectively represent you in the defense of your case. Obtain a FREE lawyer consultation when you call today at 404-567-5515. Learn the difference between our approach to legal services in driving under the influence cases.

    A drunk or drugged driving conviction can wreak havoc on your future. However, being arrested and charged with a DUI in Georgia does not mean that you will be found guilty in court.

    Georgia DUI Lawyers

    At Kohn & Yager, our three law book authors on defending a drink driving charge understand that preparation is the key to obtaining a successful outcome in a DUI case. Our three partners, ex-cop Cory Yager, William “Bubba” Head and Larry Kohn have helped multiple thousands of drivers in GA get a DUI charge reduced or dismissed entirely simply by fighting and defending cases in every available method possible.

    It is crucial to the defense of your DUI case that you hire an experienced Georgia DUI attorney who knows the law, plus has had experience in over 1000 cases in defending DUI clients in Georgia. Our three Super Lawyers all have that enviable track record.

    DUI Law Books Georgia
    Client Reviews
    ★★★★★
    Great lawyer helped me out a lot. Very attentive, made me feel comfortable and at ease!! Really knows his stuff - would use him anytime. M.L.
    ★★★★★
    Mr. Larry Kohn could not have been more helpful. I sent him a message for a free consultation, and unfortunately my case had to be handled in another state. But he completely walked me through everything I needed to do, and even offered to assist the lawyer I did find in Virginia should they need help with my case. Jamie V.
    ★★★★★
    Mr. Kohn is just amazing. He is truthful and realistic when explaining potential outcomes of your case and doesn’t force you to hire him or anything. When I met him, he went through everything about the case and ways to fight it off first before even telling me about his services. He got my case dismissed and kept me out of a lot of potential problems with school applications and future job opportunities. I highly recommend him to anyone. Anurag G.