If this is your first DUI offense 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 one”. You have to be ready for the worst punishment but hire a DUI attorney to fight for the best outcome. This article explains how and why you need to ignore cheap DUI lawyers and retain an experienced DUI attorney and get to work on your first time DUI defense!
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 of time (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 AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES IN GA
If you have a Georgia DUI first offense on your criminal record, the penalties for that are set by Georgia law 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 in Georgia include:
a. 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);
b. Perform at least 40 hours of community service;
c. Surrender your driver’s license, which is immediately suspended, subject to seeking to qualify for a work permit GA (only Georgia licensees can qualify);
d. Pay fines of $300 to $1,000 plus statutory surcharges which will roughly double the fine amount. The amount of the fine is left to the judge’s decision;
e. Successfully attend and complete the 20-hour DUI classes (also known as DUI school);
f. Obtain an alcohol and drugs evaluation from a Georgia, licensed addiction specialist, whose recommendation for treatment or therapy must be followed;
g. For the rest of a 12-month period, 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 that 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, in order 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.
GEORGIA DRIVER’S LICENSE CONSEQUENCES
For a Georgia DUI conviction, the driver’s license consequences from a first offense DUI in Georgia include these key factors:
a) Your license is confiscated by 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 virtue of 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 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. 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 OFFENSE DUI ATTORNEY CAN HELP
These highly restrictive and unfair GA 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:
- Shift the STRESS and WORRY caused by this GA DUI arrest OFF your shoulders;
- Keep your driving, prevent total loss of 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);
- Thoroughly investigate the case, the roadway location and conditions (slope, grade, under construction);
- Through filing written motions (i.e., motion in limine, motion to suppress, speedy trial motion), in order to assert every viable legal attack available under Georgia laws on DUI, to eliminate some or all of the State’s evidence;
- If a negotiated plea is not available that is satisfactory to the client, go to trial to “go for the win;”
- Keep a DUI conviction off your criminal history;
- Keep you out of jail.
A criminal defense attorney who is not a DUI specialist, will not 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 HOPE Exists, in most DUI cases, for a non-DUI disposition, our DUI law firm offers:
Why to Choose our DUI lawyers?
- FREE lawyer consultation with a PARTNER, with over 1000 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 404-567-5515.
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 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. Similar to needing immediate, emergency surgery, you need a person who does DUI defense EVERY day, and who does it successfully.
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 DUI lawyers 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, administrative and criminal.
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.
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 Option: O.C.G.A. 40-5-64.1
Driver’s License Reinstatement: O.C.G.A.