Overview of Georgia’s DUI Laws

May 26, 2014

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As a retired police officer, this is something I get asked about this a lot. Every state’s laws are a little different but Georgia’s DUI laws are pretty similar to the rest of the country. Of course, if you don’t ever drink and drive, you have nothing to worry about! Every year, many people die or are injured in alcohol related car crashes. Please don’t be one of them.

The Georgia Criminal Code lists DUI under section 40-6-391. It says, “A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while:

1. Under the influence of alcohol or any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;

2. Under the intentional influence of any glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;

3. Under the combined influence of any two or more of the substances specified in paragraphs 1 through 3 of this subsection to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;

The legal limit in Georgia for alcohol in one’s system is 0.08 grams. This is for a regular driver, over the age of twenty one years. The legal limit for someone under the age of twenty one is only 0.02 grams. This clearly makes it even more serious for an under-aged person to drink and drive. With the limit only being 0.02, almost any consumption of alcohol at all is going to cause that driver to be over the legal limit.

When the police arrest someone for Driving Under the Influence, the officer is required to read the violator their “Implied Consent Warning.” This is read off a card and advises the person that they are required to submit to a state administered test to determine if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It also lets them know that their driver’s license will be suspended if they refuse to take the test. Most of the time, the violator will be requested to take a breath test, but they could be requested to take a blood or urine test in addition to or in lieu of the breath test.

If a violator refuses to cooperate and to take a chemical test, the officer will fill out paperwork automatically suspending their driver’s license. The violator is entitled to appeal this within thirty days of its issuance. This has nothing to do with the disposition of their Driving under the Influence criminal case. This is just an administrative hearing that pertains to whether or not the violator cooperated with the police and consented to a chemical test. If they did not, their driver’s license is suspended by the State before they ever even go to trial.

When a violator does go to court for their charge of DUI, they are looking at serious sentences. For a first offense Driving under the Influence, the fines can range from three hundred to one thousand dollars. The severity of the incident will often determine the amount of the fines.

Besides the fines, the violator, is also looking at mandatory jail time. While the law mandates a mandatory sentence, the judge is allowed to suspend all but twenty-four hours. Most of the time, the twenty-four hours of incarceration is all that the violator is looking at, but it could be more, again, depending on the severity of the incident.

The violator will also be required to complete twenty to forty hours of community service. This often translates to picking up trash from the side of the road. Another requirement is that violator complete a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program, as well as be evaluated to determine if the violator has a drug or alcohol addiction. The court is also required to place the violator on probation for twelve months.

These fines and requirements mentioned above are for a first offense DUI  conviction. They become much more severe for second and subsequent violations. There is also a mandatory one year driver’s license suspension that goes along with a DUI conviction. This suspension is separate from the one issued for the violator refusing to submit to a chemical test. The violator is usually allowed to apply for a work only driving permit after a few months.

Clearly, Driving under the Influence is a very serious offense. The fines, jail time, community service, DUI School, and driver’s license suspension all add up to the violator losing money, time, and potentially their job. If the violator decides to hire an attorney to represent them in their criminal case, these attorney fees can also be very expensive. Another repercussion from a Driving under the Influence arrest is that most car insurance providers automatically cancel any of their clients arrested for that charge. While taking a taxi home from a bar might be expensive, it clearly is not as expensive as a DUI arrest. 

Have a great and safe holiday!

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