If this is your first 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 one”. You have to be ready for the worst punishment – but be prepared to fight for the best outcome. Retain an experienced DUI attorney and get to work on your first time DUI defense now!
Some states specifically provide a statutory method under their state laws to request a judge to clear your record of a first DWI offense. However, this can only be done after a specified period of time, and is available only if you commit no other criminal offenses. In other states, your record of a first offense DUI-DWI conviction can never be expunged.
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. The mandatory minimum punishments for a first offender DUI is 24 hours in jail (where your DUI test results are over the legal limit), 40 hours community service, fines of $300 to $1,000 depending on the judge’s decision.
Depending on the nature of your offense, the judge may also require you to complete an alcohol education program and your sentence may even include a minimum 24-hour jail sentence, and up to a year of probation!
These are the minimum standard criminal penalties, plus you will be placed on 12 months probation. Whatever jail time you don’t do, the rest of that 12 months must be on probation.
For example, 11 months and 29 days, you are going to be on probation so that the court can sanction you if you get into more trouble. That’s the minimum mandatory punishment that is available by law. Also, Georgia law has no first offender act on ANY DUI convictions. This means no expungement. This means a DUI stays on your record forever. Also, even a first offense cannot be handled by diversion or withholding judgment.
Driver’s License Consequences
For a Georgia DUI conviction, the driver’s license consequences from a first offense include these key factors:
a) Your license is confiscated by the Court and surrendered to DDS (DMV office.) This conviction suspends your right to drive immediately, until and unless you are eligible (by virtue of submitting to the implied consent test after you cuffing and arrest). 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 permit. A minimum hard suspension for a first offense DUI drugs conviction is imposed. A Second offense DUI drugs results in a one year suspension.
Most criminal defense lawyers who do not limit their law practice to DUI defense are not familiar with the dozens of quirky laws and license suspension “Catch 22” situations. 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”. Not DUI, however. 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.
If you are a true first offender and that is someone who’s never had a DUI in the last 10 years under present Georgia law, since July 1st 2008, then you should be eligible for a work permit if you have a DUI on your record. If you plead guilty to a DUI or if you go to trial and are found guilty, the work permit is good for the first 120 days.
At which time if you have done certain things like go to driving school and pay a reinstatement fee you can get your full license back. Here’s some of the caveats, or the exceptions, you can only do it with the Georgia license.
If you happen to move here and just not had time to switch over to a Georgia license when you were arrested for DUI and you go to court and plead guilty or found guilty on that license you’re not going to be eligible for any work permit. You can be stranded for 120 days with nothing to drive on.
However, if you come to us and come in for your free interview we’ll show you how you can work that so that you can end up with a Georgia license before your case is disposed of, whether it’s by trial or by plea. Hopefully it won’t be by plea. If you go to trial and we give it a shot and try to win for you and you lost, you would still be able to get the work permit.
Despite being a first-time offender, your insurance rates will almost certainly increase due to your conviction—in fact, many drivers pay two to three times more for coverage once their insurer learns of their offense. And, as a criminal offense, your DUI will remain on your record indefinitely—jeopardizing countless employment, housing, and educational opportunities in the future.
How a Georgia First Offense DUI Attorney Can Help
These kinds of laws are why WE FIGHT FOR YOU. Our job is three-fold:
1) Keep you driving.
2) Keep you out of jail.
3) Keep a DUI conviction off your criminal history.
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 attorneys are at public defender offices, not private law firms. You should take your DUI arrest seriously, and take immediate steps to secure legal counsel for even your first offense.