What Are the Consequences of Getting a DUI in Georgia?

When you drive after drinking, you may be pulled over and asked to take a sobriety test or use a breathalyzer. You can be charged with Driving under the Influence (DUI) if you are pulled over and your blood alcohol content is above the legal limit of 0.08. If that happens, you will be arrested and likely spend the night in jail. That is just the beginning of your legal and financial problems.

There are steps you can take to reduce the negative impact a DUI has on your life and your livelihood. To find out what those steps are and to take action, speak with a trusted DUI lawyer today.

Conditions for a DUI

Under Georgia law, anyone driving a vehicle is subject to a DUI search. That means if a police officer suspects you of being under the influence while behind the wheel of a car, they can make you take a breathalyzer. Any driver with an elevated blood alcohol content level is presumed to be under the influence and can be arrested without any actual proof of further impairment.

If you refuse a breathalyzer test, you are presumed to be under the influence. This applies to both alcohol and drugs. If you have any detectable amount of illegal drugs in your system, that can also result in a DUI.

Georgia Fines and Jail Time

Georgia does not take a DUI lightly. The penalties the state levies depend on the number of prior DUI convictions a driver has within the last ten years.

  • For a first DUI, expect to receive 10 days to one year in jail, a $300 to $1000 fine, plus 40 hours or more of community service.
  • For a second DUI, you will spend 90 days to one year in jail, pay a $600 to $1000 fine, plus receive a minimum of 30 days of mandatory community service.
  • For a third offense, you will spend at least 120 days in jail and up to one year, you will pay a $1000 to $5000 fine, plus receive a minimum of 30 days mandatory community service.

DUI offenders may also be required to complete one year of probation after spending time in jail, or in place of it. However, every person arrested for a DUI in the state of Georgia will spend at least 24 hours in jail. For a second offense, you are required to spend at least 72 hours in jail and, for a third offense, a minimum of 15 days in jail.

After you are released from jail and placed on probation, you will also have to attend alcohol and drug classes, plus any other recommended treatment. You will need to get a certificate of completion from the courses and present it to a judge.

Georgia takes steps further for repeat offenders. If you get a second DUI in five years, you will have to surrender your license plate. A third DUI in five years means you will have to turn over your vehicle.

Driver’s License Penalties

Besides fines and jail time, a DUI in Georgia may also impact your driver’s license and your ability to drive.

  • For a first DUI, you will face a one-year driver’s license suspension.
  • A second DUI means you will face a three-year driver’s license suspension.
  • A third DUI means you will face permanent revocation of your driver’s license and your ability to drive.

If you have had your driver’s license suspended or revoked by the state, you may be able to get it reinstated. To do that, you would need to have completed your DUI education program and have a minimum amount of time pass since your DUI without further incident.

When a driver has their license suspended, they may also be able to apply for a hardship license. This allows the person the ability to drive during the suspension period but only for certain purposes and to certain locations. This could include work or to take your children to school. If you are granted this hardship license, you will need to install an ignition interlock device in your car. This device tests your blood alcohol content level before it allows you to start the vehicle. Not only is this device intrusive, it can also cost hundreds of dollars, a fee you will be solely responsible for covering.

Felony DUI

In criminal law, there are misdemeanors and felonies. Most DUIs are classified as a misdemeanor, which means you cannot be sentenced to more than one year in jail.

However, the law considers some DUIs to be more egregious criminal offenses and classifies them as a felony. What makes this determination is whether several factors are present:

  • Causing death to another person or unborn fetus
  • Causing serious bodily harm to another person or unborn fetus
  • Fleeing a police officer
  • Fleeing the scene of an accident
  • Having three or more DUI convictions in the past ten years

If you are facing a felony DUI, you could be looking at many years in jail, depending on the circumstances surrounding your DUI. You could also face tens of thousands of dollars in penalties. On top of all that, you may have difficulty getting or holding a job, making it challenging for you to financially support yourself.

Act Fast

In Georgia, you only have 30 days to appeal a suspension of your driver’s license or the installation of an ignition interlock device in your car. If you do not appeal, you are essentially agreeing with the conviction and will find it extremely difficult to clear your name later. Your course of action immediately after your arrest for a DUI should include a phone call to a trusted and experienced DUI lawyer in Georgia.

Why is this important? This is different from the criminal proceeding. This is an administrative hearing to determine whether your driver’s license should be suspended. This hearing could have an impact on your ability to drive, even before your criminal DUI case is resolved.

This is why you need to request a hearing. If you fail to do so timely, you could see your driving privileges suspended for up to one year for your first DUI.

What to Do After Your DUI Arrest?

If this is your first DUI arrest, you do not have to give in and take whatever jail time and penalties the state hands down on you. You can fight to protect your rights and your livelihood.

If this is your second or third DUI, you can still protect your rights. There are steps you can take to reduce your sentence and the penalties you may face.

In either situation, a Georgia DUI attorney can help you. The legal complexities you face, both criminal and administrative, can seem daunting. With the right legal team at your side, you may be able to get your time in jail reduced or eliminated, have your probation reduced, get a reduction in the amount of penalties you will pay, and generally be able to keep some semblance of your normal life.

Without a lawyer, you risk everything. You may lose your ability to drive, which impacts your ability to work and make a living. Get the help you deserve today.

The Springfield DUI Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Helps Protect Your Rights

Getting a DUI in Georgia can have serious impacts on your life. From making it hard to get and hold a job to reducing your ability to enjoy your life, not to mention all of the financial implications, your life can be severely altered by a single DUI. Luckily, you have legal options to reduce the damage done to your life. To help you determine your legal options, speak with the Springfield DUI lawyers at Kicklighter Law. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today to schedule your free consultation by calling 912-754-6003 or filling out our online form. We proudly serve our Georgia neighbors in Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and surrounding areas.

Can I Be Arrested for Driving Under the Influence of a Prescription Drug?

It is common knowledge that getting behind the wheel after consuming too much alcohol can increase the risk of a car accident. Alcohol affects coordination, judgment, and the ability to react quickly to emergency driving situations. However, alcohol and illegal drugs are not the only substances that can cause motorists to become impaired. Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause drowsiness, nausea, and other side effects that can affect a motorist’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. What may come as a surprise is the fact that you can receive a DUI for driving while under the influence of a prescription medication. If you are facing a DUI charge, contact a skilled DUI lawyer at your earliest convenience.

What Are Georgia’s DUI Laws?

Georgia has strict laws against driving under the influence of drugs, or any substance that can cause impairments. According to Georgia DUI laws, motorists are prohibited from driving, or being in control of a vehicle if they meet any of the following circumstances:

  • They are under the influence of alcohol or any drug to a degree that makes it less safe for them to be operating a motor vehicle.
  • They are under the influence of an aerosol, glue, or other toxic vapor to an extent that they are impaired, making it less safe for them to drive.
  • They are under the influence of two or more controlled substances, including opiates, stimulants, or depressants, to an extent that it is less safe for the person to operate a motor vehicle.
  • The driver’s alcohol concentration is 0.08 BAC or more within three hours of getting behind the wheel.
  • There is a detectable amount of marijuana or controlled substance present in the person’s blood, urine, or both.

How Can Prescription Drugs Impact My Ability to Drive Safely?

Prescription medications are used to treat a wide range of health conditions from depression and anxiety to hypertension and diabetes. However, many of these drugs also have side effects that can impair your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, even when you take the medication as prescribed. When combined with even a small amount of alcohol, impairments are often more extreme, although this is not always the case. The following are examples of how certain prescription medications can affect your driving:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Inability to focus
  • Delayed reactions

How Do Georgia’s DUI Laws Apply to Prescription Medications?

If you are taking a prescription medication that impairs your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, you could be charged with a DUI. In addition, if you combine your prescription medication with even a small amount of alcohol, this can make you less safe as a driver.

Unfortunately, people do not always realize how their medications could impact their ability to drive, particularly if they are taking a combination of medications that could cause a range of side effects. In addition, motorists often assume that if they have a valid prescription for the prescription drugs they are taking, they will not face any legal consequences if they are facing a possible DUI charge, but that is not the case. If the prescription medication makes you a more dangerous driver, you could be charged with a DUI and face the same consequences as if you were under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.

What Are the Penalties for a DUI Charge?

If you have been charged with a DUI, the penalties are severe, even if the DUI charge involves a prescription drug. For example, Georgia DUI laws call for mandatory jail time, even if it is your first offense. If convicted, you may also face the following:

  • Alcohol and drug testing
  • Fees and costs
  • License restrictions
  • Mandatory DUI classes
  • Probation

When Can Prescription Medication Be Used as a Defense Strategy?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), close to 50 percent of all Americans take at least one prescription medication, and over 23 percent take three or more. Too often, drivers have no idea that they could face DUI charges for taking a prescription medication. However, if a law enforcement officer believes that your driving is impaired, they may first ask whether you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Next, they will ask whether you are taking any prescription medications. If the officer feels it is warranted, they may arrest you and request that you submit to a blood test. If it comes back positive for medication, the state may proceed with a DUI prosecution against you.

While simply stating that you have a valid prescription from a doctor is not a viable defense, it is important to understand that when the police officer charged you with a DUI, they had to make a judgment call regarding your level of impairment and if it meets the “less safe” requirement. Oftentimes, officers are wrong, or are too quick to charge a driver with a DUI when the driver is not actually impaired. When testifying in court, police officers are often unable to provide specific evidence about what effect the drug had on your ability to drive. In addition, when police conduct DUI stops, they often use the same sobriety tests for prescription medications as they do for alcohol. However, you may have an underlying condition that causes some of the same cues as being intoxicated, even if it has no impact on your ability to drive safely. Field sobriety tests are not approved by the courts to support a prescription drug DUI charge.

If a police officer orders you to provide a blood or urine sample for drug testing, keep in mind that prescription drugs are often detected even when you are no longer under the influence of that medication. For example, if you took an Ambien pill to help you sleep, and you get pulled over the next day, the medication will still be in your system even though you are no longer under the influence, or unsafe to drive. An experienced DUI lawyer will review your case, determine whether prosecutors are relying on inaccurate information, and develop an effective defense strategy aimed at reducing the charges or getting your case dismissed.

What Other Defense Strategies Are Used in DUI Cases?

Every DUI case is unique, and there is no single strategy that will be effective for every case, particularly when the case involves prescription medication. However, the following are examples of some of the best defenses the DUI lawyers often use:

  • The officer did not have a valid reason to initiate a DUI stop.
  • The field sobriety test was not issued according to procedure.
  • The driver was not properly advised about their implied consent rights about chemical testing.
  • The drug levels in a blood or urine test were within the therapeutic range.
  • The officer did not advise you of your Miranda rights prior to questioning.
  • Your blood sample was mixed up with another person’s sample.
  • The officer was not properly trained to make prescription drug DUI arrests.

How Can I Avoid a Prescription Drug DUI Charge?

If you are taking any type of medication, whether it is prescription or over the counter, it is important that you understand the effects that the drug can have on your body.

  • Read the label to see whether it should be taken with or without food, if it causes drowsiness or other side effects, and if it warns against driving or operating any type of machinery while taking the drug.
  • Speak to your doctor about your prescription, including possible side effects, and whether it will interact with any other drug you are taking, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and even vitamins and supplements.
  • Any time your physician starts you on a new course of treatment or increases the dose of a drug you are taking, ask them whether it is safe to drive while taking this drug.

Ask whether it will cause any of the following impairments:

  • Impaired coordination or balance
  • Slower reflexes
  • Drowsiness
  • Cognitive and decision-making impairments
  • Heightened anxiety or other mood-related issues
  • Medication makes it easier to become intoxicated

Savannah DUI Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Help Motorists Who Have Been Charged with a DUI

If you have been charged with a prescription drug DUI, you are strongly urged to contact the Savannah DUI lawyers at Kicklighter Law as soon as possible. We have a proven track record of developing effective defense strategies that protect our clients’ legal rights and avoid steep fines, license suspensions and jail time. Our skilled legal team will thoroughly review your case, address your questions and concerns, and recommend the best legal course of action. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 912-754-6003 or contact us online. From our offices located in Springfield, Georgia, we proudly serve all clients of Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and surrounding areas.

Call Us: 912-754-6003

412 North Laurel Street
Springfield, GA 31329

Telephone: 912-754-6003
Fax: 912-754-6336

Email: [email protected]

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