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.
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.
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.