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DUI Penalties in Georgia

DUI Penalties in Georgia: DUI Cases in the Peach State

This page answers common questions about Georgia DUI laws. One question it addresses is “for a DUI first offense Georgia, how long a DUI stays on your record in GA?” The shocking answer is found a few paragraphs down this page.

Because no two DUI clients’ personal situations are exactly the same, a detailed explanation of YOUR unique consequences and impacts is essential. This is why our lawyers on the DDD Directory will ask about your unique situation during your FREE consultation.

So, if you need an Atlanta DUI lawyer with one of our law firm’s three award-winning criminal attorneys near me, click the foregoing link. For other locations, go to the bottom of this page for links to other Georgia cities near your court location.

We are the criminal law book co-authors of The Georgia DUI Trial Practice Manual. Generic information on a Web page can only give a broad overview. In addition, all three law partners have co-authored other nationally published DUI-related legal publications.

Super Lawyers Georgia Explain DUI Penalties in Georgia

Overview of Georgia DUI Laws. If arrested for “drunk driving” (driving under the influence) in Georgia, the DUI charges may be based on alcohol (these cases make up about 90% of all GA arrests), drugs (including controlled substances such as prescription drugs in Georgia).

Georgia, like all other states, has DUI per se laws for DUI-alcohol and DUI-drugs cases. The age 21 and older BAC standard in 0.08 grams percent or more, while the State’s underage “zero tolerance” standard is a BAC level of 0.02 gr. % or more. In addition, having a blood test revealing impairment of any drug to the extent of impairment level is also a crime.

DUI Penalties in GAIs DUI a criminal offense? Yes, every driving offense in Georgia is a misdemeanor crime. However, every DUI offense is classified as a “serious driving offense” to signify the potential to face other felony charges when a DUI causes serious bodily injury or death or another person or fetus.

How long does a DUI stay on your record in Georgia? Forever. You take any convictions to the grave, and no “record restriction” or expungement of Georgia DUI convictions (or “no contest” pleas) changes that permanent criminal history.

Is there a book about how to get out of a DUI first offense? Yes, there is. In 1991, William C. Head and Reese I. Joye, Jr., wrote 101 Ways to Avoid a Drunk Driving Conviction.”

That book is no longer in print. But William C. Head is re-writing and updating this top-selling book and renaming it, “202 Ways to Avoid a Drunk Driving Conviction” in 2024.

What is the Average Cost of a First DUI?

These felony statutes under OCGA 40-6-393, O.C.G.A. 40-6-393.1, and OCGA Section 40-6-394 cover vehicular homicide, vehicular feticide, and serious injury by vehicle, respectively. Plus, any conviction of DUI-DWI from another state (or even if a nolo contendere plea was accepted) can be counted as your first offense. Georgia will look at that arrest date, too, and not the conviction date.

In addition, for any repeat offenders (after a D.U.I. first offense in Georgia), punishments ramp up somewhat dramatically after a first offense DUI conviction occurs in GA. Thus, those arrested for new driving under the influence charges will need to seek out and hire highly skilled legal counsel to look for ways to win that case or find an acceptable non-DUI plea resolution that carries lesser consequences.

Maybe unique in all of the USA, the Peach State uses different “lookback” periods for how long a driver’s license will be suspended or revoked, that the lookback period for criminal punishments. Apparently, the 2007 Legislature that passed Georgia 2008 law update wanted to not use a 10-year window for the harsh suspensions and revocations found under Georgia’s laws.

Georgia DUI Lookback Period

First Offence DUI

Penalties for your first DUI conviction include:

  • Fines: $300 to $1,000 plus surcharges on a first offense DUI.
  • Jail Time: Up to 12 months, with a minimum of 24 hours. For drivers age 21 and older not otherwise suspended under implied consent (or otherwise) can qualify and pay for a limited driving permit for 120 days, and then seek the return of their full plastic license by completing certain conditions (e.g., taking the 20-hour risk reduction course) under GA DUI laws.
  • Community Service: Minimum of 40 hours of community service on a DUI 1st offense.
  • Driver’s License Suspension: Up to 1 year on a first DUI offense. By far, the first offense DUI license suspension is the least disruptive to a client’s life, since most are able to receive the GA DUI driving permit.
  • Other DUI 1st offense Requirements: Substance abuse evaluation and possible treatment program.

For a first-time conviction you could get jail time, but (for many) the time served immediately after being arrested is the total DUI first offense jail time.

Although all first-time DUI offenders vow to new get arrested again for a 1st DUI in Georgia, about 1 in 5 do get a subsequent arrest for impaired driving. For these potential repeat offenders their potential for very harsh punishment and future impact on many aspects of “normal” life will be affected.

(If a person previously had any DUI convictions, a 10-year lookback is used, based on dates of arrest, not conviction dates).

Second DUI Offense (within 10 years, based on dates of arrest)

  • Fines: $600 to $1,000.
  • Jail Time: 90 days to 1 year, with a mandatory minimum of 72 hours.
  • Community Service: Minimum of 30 days.
  • Driver’s License Suspension: 3 years.
  • Other Requirements: Completion of a Risk Reduction Program, clinical evaluation, and possible treatment program. Installation of an ignition interlock device upon license reinstatement. Publication of the offender’s photo in the local newspaper.

DUI Penalties in Georgia DUI Defense Lawyers in Georgia

Third DUI Offense (within 10 years, based on arrest dates)

  • Fines: $1,000 to $5,000.
  • Jail Time: 120 days to 1 year, with a mandatory minimum of 15 days.
  • Community Service: Minimum of 30 days (240 hours).
  • Driver’s License Suspension: 5 year license revocation, with no limited permit available for the first 2 years.
  • Other Requirements: Surrender of license plates, publication of the offender’s photo in the local newspaper, mandatory alcohol and drug counseling, and completion of a treatment program. Declared a habitual violator, which can lead to felony charges if caught driving.

Fourth DUI Offense (this is counted by dates of arrest, and convictions for D.U.I., within the prior Ten years)

  • Fines: $1,000 to $5,000.
  • Jail Time: 120 days to 1 year, with a mandatory minimum of 15 days.
  • Community Service: Minimum of 60 days (480 hours).
  • Driver’s License Suspension: 5 year revocation, with no limited permit available for the first 2 years.
  • Other Requirements: Surrender of license plates, publication of the offender’s photo in the local newspaper, mandatory alcohol and drug counseling, and completion of a treatment program. Declared a habitual violator, which can lead to felony charges if caught driving. In these situations, the person’s right to drive is REVOKED, meaning that their name on the GA DDS (our DMV) is removed as a Georgia licensed driver. She or he has to start over and take the written and driving tests needed to re-acquire a license once eligible.

William C Head Georgia DUI Lawyer Explain DUI Penalties in Georgia

Long-Term Effects & Penalties of a Third DUI & Fourth DUI Convictions in Georgia

A third DUI conviction in Georgia carries severe long-term consequences that can significantly impact various aspects of an individual’s life. Here are the primary long-term effects:

Legal and Criminal Consequences

  1. Jail Time: A third DUI conviction within ten years (using arrest dates) results in a minimum of 15 days in jail, but sentences can extend up to 12 months. Many courts impose longer sentences, often ranging from 60 to 180 days.
  2. Fines: Offenders face fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, plus additional surcharges and court costs, which can nearly double the fine amount.
  3. Probation: Convicted individuals are typically sentenced to 12 to 36 months of probation, depending on the presence of other associated offenses.

Impact on Driving Privileges

  1. License Suspension: A third DUI within five years results in a five-year license REVOCATION. If the 3rd DUI arrest occurs on a date outside the five (5) year lookback period from the date of the first arrest, then less harsh driver’s license suspension penalties will attach, depending on whether the crime is 2nd DUI within five years or not. After two years, individuals may qualify for a limited permit with the installation of an ignition interlock device.
  2. Habitual Violator Status: Being declared a habitual violator means that driving privileges are severely restricted. Driving while under this status can lead to felony charges, additional license suspension, and up to five years in prison.
DUI Penalties in Georgia DUI Cases

Community Service and Treatment Programs

  1. Community Service: Offenders must complete a minimum of 240 hours (30 days) of community service at a non-profit organization.
  2. Alcohol and Drug Counseling: Mandatory participation in alcohol and drug counseling programs, including a 17-week series of mental therapy sessions, is required. Completion of a DUI Risk Reduction Program and a clinical evaluation, followed by any recommended treatment, is also mandatory.

Social and Professional Impact

  1. Publication of Conviction: Offenders must pay to publish a notice of their conviction and a photograph in their local newspaper, which can lead to public embarrassment and social stigma.
  2. Employment Challenges: A third DUI conviction can severely impact employment opportunities, especially in professions requiring a clean driving record or background checks. The habitual violator status and felony charges for driving under this status can further complicate job prospects.

Financial Burden

  1. Increased Insurance Rates: Convicted individuals will face significantly higher auto insurance premiums, and some insurers may refuse coverage altogether.
  2. Legal Fees: The cost of legal representation, court fees, and mandatory program fees can accumulate, creating a substantial financial burden.

In summary, a third DUI conviction (or 4th DUI) in Georgia results in severe legal penalties, including mandatory incarceration, long-term restrictions on driving privileges, mandatory community service and treatment programs, social stigma, and significant financial burdens. These consequences underscore the importance of seeking legal counsel immediately following an arrest to navigate the complexities of DUI laws and potentially mitigate some of these long-term effects.

Top Rated DUI Lawyers in Georgia Can Help You Beat Georgia DUI Penalties

Click the link below for the closest Georgia Law Firm location to speak to an Experienced and Determined DUI Defense Attorney who is part of the network of vetted drunk driving attorneys.

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More Georgia DUI Penalty Resources

If you’d like to learn more about DUI laws in Georgia, read some of our articles below. We explore many different aspects of DUI penalties in Georgia. Also, you can call 1-888-839-4384 anytime to schedule a free consultation.