By: Larry Kohn, Award Winning DUI Lawyer in Atlanta and Legal Book Author

GA DUI Penalties and Consequences

Thousands of DUI arrests occur each year in the Peach State. Plus, on a national level, thousands of drivers are injured or killed in drug or alcohol-related car accidents. Nevertheless, driving under the influence (DUI) remains a common crime in the state of Georgia.

Although ride sharing services have substantially curtailed drunk driving, thousands of motorists continue to be arrested for impaired driving. One of the key reasons more motorists take this risk is the lack of understanding how TOUGH the DUI penalties and consequences will be IF convicted. Georgia DUI laws are ranked second toughest in the Nation, except for Arizona. The infographic below lays out categories of punishment, starting with confiscating your plastic license for refusal of the chemical test required by Georgia implied consent laws.

DUI penalties vary from state to state, but there are several typical factors that will increase the severity of a conviction of DUI in Georgia. The complete LACK of a first offender plea or expungement or a record restriction of ANY type means that you carry a DUI conviction to the GRAVE! Because knowing the seriousness of a DUI in GA, our Georgia DUI lawyers offer a free consultation to anyone charged with a DUI Georgia.

Unfortunately, despite its frequency, DUI-DWI carries several harsh criminal penalties, and a LIFETIME criminal record that cannot ever be expunged in Georgia. Even a person with a spotless driving record will face mandatory fines, a mandatory driver’s license suspension, mandatory probation for a year, and may have an additional jail sentence to serve if convicted of the DUI charge.

Factors that can attribute to a harsher DUI penalty include: the severity of the driver’s BAC intoxication (e.g., high blood alcohol level or stoned on drugs), past DWI-DUI arrests, the driver’s age, whether drugs were the impairing substance or alcohol, performance on the optional field sobriety tests or roadside breathalyzers and past criminal history (especially for driving drunk), any property damage caused by a car crash, plus behavior toward law enforcement can all be taken into account by the sentencing judge.

Every case turns on its own facts. Our extensive questionnaire asks about all critical details of the arrest, like “Did you refuse the post-arrest implied consent test?” Negotiating a DUI reduced to reckless driving is an ART and a SKILL that only the best lawyers in Georgia regularly obtain.

DUI in Georgia Penalties

Potential Consequences of a Georgia DUI Offense

Assuming it is your first offense DUI, a drunk driving conviction may carry a $300 to $1,000 fine, with surcharges doubling that (or more), plus a one-year driver’s license suspension, 40 hours or more of community service, and anywhere from a 10-day to one-year jail sentence, but your DUI lawyer may be able to negotiate away that additional jail time (If the breath reading above 0.08g waived by judge).

Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, the judge may also order you to attend DUI School and/or complete counseling—all at your own expense, of course. The was laws in Georgia are written, penalties for a conviction of driving intoxicated cannot be waived.

DUI School, DUI Class

If you think the sentence for a first offense is harsh, consider this: if you are convicted of a second DUI within a five-year period, you’ll spend at least 72 hours behind bars and pay up to $1,000 in fines. Along with these penalties, your driving privileges may be revoked for two years, and you may be required to get an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle (which means you will have to pass a breathalyzer in order to start your vehicle). As a repeat offender, your name and photograph may also be published in a local newspaper—and you’ll even be required to pay the publishing costs!

Finally, if you are unfortunate enough to be convicted of a third DUI within five years, you can expect to spend anywhere from 120 days to 12 months in jail, pay up to $5,000 in fines, and lose your driver’s license for five years. In some cases, you may also be required to perform up to 240 hours of community service and/or complete an alcohol education program. Once again, you may have to get an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle and have your arrest published in the paper.

Court-Ordered Fines and Surcharges Are Not the Only Expenses

Of course, the cost of a DUI conviction doesn’t end with the court-imposed fines. You’ll also be responsible for any third-party expenses associated with your penalties. For example, the judge may order you to complete an alcohol education program—which means you’ll be required to pay an enrollment fee for DUI classes. Likewise, if your sentence includes counseling or treatment you will also be responsible for those costs as well.

DUI Lawyer Is Cheaper Than Conviction

Monthly visits to see and pay a probation officer are required, and random urine tests to prove compliance are the norm. When on probation in criminal cases, expect to not be allowed to consume any alcohol or any drugs except those prescribed by a physician.

Employment-Related DUI Consequences if Convicted

Most people arrested in Georgia worry about the effect a conviction for DUI would have on their job. Since driving is critical for most types of employment, this issue is a huge concern, especially in Atlanta. If arrested for DUI in Georgia, your company car may be at risk. Plus, any job with security clearance may be lost, if convicted of DUI. Make sure to check your employee handbook to see what it says about your requirement to REPORT a DUI arrest, because failure to report is a major issue.

If you get terminated, many employers will simply not hire you if they find out you have had a DUI conviction – and some employers look as far back at your lifetime driving record. They can find this information out easily just by running a comprehensive background check. Others look back only as far as your state’s driver’s license history will report your driving history.

If you need to travel to the Bahamas or another foreign country (including Canada) for work purposes or for a vacation, a DUI conviction can be a major problem. Some countries bar entry even if you have a pending DUI case (e.g., Canada.)

Felony DUI Penalties

Georgia DUI Felony or Misdemeanor

If you were convicted of felony DUI because your impaired driving caused property damage, injuries or death of another person, the loss of privileges and entitlements ramp up quickly. Jail time is counted in months and years, not days. Community service for repeat offenders is in the HUNDREDS of hours. DUI probation can go on for years, especially for a repeat offender.

“Bail jumping” is a failure to appear after you received the court date at your arraignment and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the original charge. Fines may range up to $5,000 and you could also be subject to five years in prison.

Failure to Appear (FTA)

If you failed to appear for your court date after being arrested and arraigned for DUI, your license has been automatically suspended. The court does not care why you did not appear in court; you have forfeited your bond, the court entered a guilty plea on your behalf, and a bench warrant has been issued for your arrest.

You could spend two days in jail, pay a fine of $500, and/or receive 12 months of probation if you fail to appear. Your license will be suspended for another six months after you were arrested.

“Bail jumping” is a failure to appear after you received the court date at your arraignment and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the original charge. Fines may range up to $5,000 and you could also be subject to five years in prison.

Benefits of Representation by a Top DUI Attorney

As you can see, the consequences of driving under the influence can be quite severe. If you were recently charged with a Georgia DUI, it is important than ever to obtain legal representation immediately after your arrest. In many cases, you may be able to challenge your arrest and get your charges reduced or dismissed in court.

Georgia DUI Lawyers

As one of the most successful DUI defense attorneys in the nation, Atlanta DUI attorney William C. (Bubba) Head has the skill and experience to handle your DUI case. Plus, both criminal defense attorneys Cory Yager (an ex-cop) and the author of this web page have spent their entire legal careers working as a trial lawyer with Mr. Head at his law firm.

Our Law Firm Awards

For 43 years, Mr. Head has helped Georgia drivers reduce or avoid the consequences of a DUI conviction, and there’s a good chance that he and his well-trained law partners can do the same for you. Our law office provides a FREE copy of one of Mr. Head’s books on DUI laws, a FREE lawyer consultation near me (Cobb County and Fulton County offices). Call our 24 hour DUI lawyers near me at 404-567-5515.