DUI First Offense in Georgia
Georgia law enforcement officers take DUI very seriously. If a person is over the legal limit, he or she faces automatic jail time. Understanding a DUI first offense can help a person make more informed decisions throughout this process.
Legal LimitLike most of the country, Georgia’s legal limit is 0.08 percent.
Elements of the ChargeGeorgia’s DUI laws make it illegal for someone to be in control of driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to such an extent that it is less than safe for the person to drive. Alternatively, a person can be charged with DUI if his or her blood alcohol level registers at 0.08 percent or higher or if the person has any concentration of drugs in his or her system.
Less Than Safe ChargesIn Georgia, it is not necessary to blow a 0.08 percent in order to be found guilty of DUI. An officer who has reason to believe that a person is under the influence of alcohol and a safety risk to others can arrest someone for DUI. This includes even if the person has taken valid prescription drugs. Therefore, even if a person has a blood alcohol content level of 0.05 percent, he or she may be arrested and convicted.
PunishmentsAfter blowing more than 0.08, a person faces 24 hours behind bars immediately. Upon sentencing, a person may be given 10 days to a year in jail. This time may be served, or a judge may suspend this time. Upon conviction, the defendant receives a minimum of 40 hours of community service. If his or her blood alcohol content level was under 0.08, the minimum is 20 hours. He or she may have to pay a fine between $300 and $1,000. Probation for up to a year may be imposed, and a person’s driver’s license is suspended for one year. Additionally, the person may have to participate in the Risk Reduction Program.
In addition to these punishments, a person convicted of DUI in Georgia will usually have to pay court costs. He or she may be subject to losing a professional license. He or she may also face additional employment consequences by being terminated from a current position or having a criminal record that impacts his or her ability to obtain employment in the future. Insurance rates often jump astronomically.
Under Georgia law, it is considered a “first” offense if the person has never been convicted of a DUI in Georgia or if the last offense was more than five years ago. However, the judge can take into consideration a previous DUI offense when determining sentencing.
Risk Reduction ProgramThe Risk Reduction Program is a Georgia course that tries to change a person’s drinking or drug habits in order to prevent further influenced driving. The defendant is required to pay assessment fees, material fees and intervention fees. The program takes about 21 hours to complete.
Terms of ProbationEach person’s probation may be different from the next person’s. The judge and probation officer determine these terms. The individual may be required to report to monthly meetings and to abstain from alcohol and drugs. He or she may be randomly tested to ensure compliance. Additionally, the defendant may be ordered to attend AA or NA meetings.
Driver’s License ConsequencesAfter being convicted, the court confiscates the driver’s license and surrenders it to Department of Driver’s Services. This conviction suspends a person’s right to drive immediately until the end of the suspension period. After the suspension time has expired, the defendant applies to get his or her license reinstated and must pay additional fees for this purpose.
If a person is a first offender, he or she may apply for a work permit so that he or she can still drive to work. A work license can also allow a person to drive to school or alcohol programs. The defendant must apply for this permit at DDS. Individuals who were convicted for DUI-drugs are not eligible for a work permit.
Hiring a Lawyer for a First DUI OffenseA DUI lawyer may be able to assist in first offense cases in a number of ways. He or she may be able to help the defendant keep his or her license or ensure that a limited driving permit is provided. He or she may be able to help the defendant avoid jail time and avoid having a criminal record that will follow the defendant around for the rest of his or her life.
Provided by HG.org
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.