Over the past thirty years, the various laws pertaining to DUI in Georgia have been challenged and overturned in criminal appeals following trial or pre-trial hearings. This has occurred more than twelve times. These appellate victories have caused major changes to the DUI laws of Georgia.
The DUI lawyers at our Atlanta criminal lawyer office locations have been a major player in fighting DUI cases for almost 50 years. As the co-authors of The Georgia DUI Trial Practice Manual, Cory Yager, William Head and Larry Kohn has fought thousands of clients’ cases where DUI in Georgia was being accused.
Most of these clients’ cases were misdemeanor DUI 1st offenses that were fought to avoid that lifelong conviction. So, don’t think that fighting a DUI charge after your DUI arrest is NOT very important.
Is it Worth Fighting my Case if it is a Violation of DUI laws in Georgia first offense? Yes, for one primary reason: A DUI conviction can NEVER be removed from your criminal history. The convicted person takes the conviction to the grave!
For example, due to a flawed implied consent notice, William Head successfully defended (when the State appealed) a trial judge’s exclusion of a South Carolina driver’s refusal to be breath tested. In the 1994 ruling, in State v. Leviner, the Georgia Court of Appeals excluded any evidence of the client’s refusal to be tested, which led to a dismissal of the DUI offense.
In the past 5 years, major changes have been added from new DUI law Georgia decisions by the Georgia Supreme Court. When the Legislature writes Georgia DUI laws, Supreme Court in Georgia rulings can cause the laws to be rewritten in order to be Constitutional.
A 2019 ruling focused on the flawed wording of the implied consent notice. In Elliott v. State, the State attempted to use a breath test refusal as “consciousness of guilt” evidence in the criminal case. It failed to meet the limitations within the Georgia Constitution.
Other GA Supreme Court rulings since the Elliott case have determined that a person’s refusal to submit to urine testing also must be excluded, if that was the type of implied consent test selected by the arresting officer. For example, in 2020, the Georgia high court undertook an appeal focused on “whether the scope of Paragraph XVI extends to another test sometimes administered in driving-under-the-influence cases, namely, a chemical test of urine.”
That ruling from the high court in Awad v. State held that the post-arrest implied consent card notice was unconstitutional. This limitation compelled a person ) who was already arrested (and with no right to call an attorney) to use his or her body to produce urine, for use in a criminal prosecution.
An Overview of Important DUI Laws GA
DUI Laws in GA. Criminal penalties for DUI in GA can be very harsh for repeat offenders, especially when a new violation occurs within 10 years of the first conviction, based on dates of arrest. Twelve months on probation (minus time spent in jail) is required for every level of offense.
Even a DUI first offense calls for a limited driving permit (not your plastic license) for 120 days, before reinstatement can be sought. This limited permit does not let you drive in all places and at all times of the day or night.
A 2nd offense DUI in GA mandated 72 hours in jail, but in 2023, the median incarceration sentence in many county courts. In larger population areas) that offer a DUI Court program is measured multiple months in jail (3 to 6 months is possible). In addition, all license plates of all vehicles in your name must be surrendered.
A 2nd DUI in 5 years will have serious consequences. Your driving privileges will be taken away for 18 months, along with your car tags. You will also need to serve mandatory jail time and complete 240 hours of community service or more.
This will cost you a lot of money. Yes, Georgia residents with a second conviction can apply for an interlock restricted limited permit. However, this permit does not provide “full driving privileges.”
The main DUI statute is OCGA 40-6-391. This Georgia Code section which sets for the various types of DUI crimes. This lengthy, primary statute outlines the minimum, mandatory penalties for each level of driving under the influence crimes in the Peach State. For example, you’ll have a probation officer to report to for the full term of probation.
A Georgia law DUI first offense has the least punitive sentencing provisions, but that conviction can never be expunged or restricted from public view, due to the Georgia Legislature banning record restriction of expungement. Other related Georgia Code sections supplement and augment enforcement of the main DUI statute, including these statutes within other parts of the GA Code:
- O.C.G.A. 40-5-55 – The main Georgia implied consent law, authorizing an officer with probable cause to arrest for drunk driving or drugged driving to be able to demand post-arrest testing.
- OCGA 40-6-392 – The statute that authorizes certain types of forensic testing to be done, and be admissible in court (breath alcohol testing, blood testing, urine testing).
- OCGA 40-5-63 – Statute that automatically suspends for any DUI conviction, subject to later license reinstatement, or limited driving privileges, when certain time has passed, fee paid and traffic safety educational conditions (i.e., DUI school) have been met.
- O.C.G.A. 40-5-64.1 – The 2017 statute that allows adult age D.U.I. 1st offenders with a GA license to opt for an IID (ignition interlock device) under the Georgia ignition interlock law. Those who have refused the post-arrest forensic test but have installed an ignition interlock under a DDS Georgia permit, can keep driving for the next 12 months with their IID.
- OCGA 40-5-67.1 – The Georgia statute that contains the GA implied consent warning for CDL drivers, underage DUI suspects, and all other adult ager drivers.
The above cited provisions include subsections for DUI-alcohol, DUI-drugs, DUI per se for alcohol, DUI per se for drugs, Georgia DUI laws under 21, and the special BAC level (0.04 grams percent) provision that is applicable to commercial drivers in their commercial vehicles.
GA DUI Laws: Is DUI in Georgia a Misdemeanor or Felony?
- Potential Defenses to Georgia DUI that are used by our experienced DUI law book co-authors in Felony or Misdemeanor DUI cases.
- Frequently Asked Questions about DUI Georgia Law
- In 2019, Georgia high court strikes down part of DUI law, forcing a change in implied consent laws.
- Georgia violation of probation laws: The difference between a technical violation and a substantive violation, for clients who are alleged to have violated probation in Georgia.
- Rewritten Georgia DUI laws 2019
- Georgia DUI laws second offense
- DUI checkpoint laws in Georgia: Learn how DUI checkpoints in Georgia are presumptively unconstitutional unless the police can prove strict compliance with how the roadblock procedures followed previously written and publicized, as well as followed at the programmatic level.
- Can I get a DUI when cutting my grass? Yes, learn about riding lawnmower private property DUI laws Georgia.
- Full information page on DUI laws Georgia second offense