First DUI Offense In Georgia
First Time Being Charged With A DUI In Georgia
If you are either impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a mixture of both in the state of Georgia, then unfortunately it would be considered driving under the influence (DUI). In this situation there exist two different charges: DUI per se and DUI less safe. Though only considered as a misdemeanor for your first DUI offense in Georgia – don’t underestimate the serious ramifications that come with such an accusation! The minimum penalties attached to a first-time DUI charge include restrictions regarding your driver’s license and even jail time; so if you have been charged with such an infraction it is best advised that seek counsel from our skilled Georgia DUI attorney at Downie Law, LLC today.
How A DUI Is Defined In Georgia
Even if you decline to take the chemical test, or your BAC is lower than .08%, law enforcement officers can still charge you with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI-less-safe) if they believe that your ability to drive has been compromised. On the other hand, if a chemical test reveals a BAC level higher than .08% within three hours after driving, then an officer can opt for charging you with DUI per se.
Penalties For Your First DUI In Georgia
Despite the fact that misdemeanors are not as severe as felonies, a DUI conviction in Georgia can still have far-reaching consequences. The punishments for your first offense may include:
- Fines between $300-$1,000
- 1-10 days in jail
- 12 months of probation
- 40 hours of community service
- Driver’s license suspension
- Alcohol and drug counseling
- Mandatory drug and alcohol treatment program
- DUI school
If given the opportunity of probation in lieu of imprisonment, there will be a plethora of additional monetary penalties. These fees come in the form of monthly payments and potential drug testing charges; usually totaling more than $1,000 after court costs and other surcharges are factored in.
A DUI conviction will remain on your record for eternity, meaning that the consequences of such an offense can extend far beyond jail time and community service. A criminal history could create impediments when it comes to finding employment, applying for scholarships, or securing credit in the future; thus, a single mistake has long-term ramifications.
License Penalties For First DUI Offense In Georgia
In addition to the fines mentioned, a DUI conviction could have devastating effects on your driving privileges. Drivers over 21 years old who are convicted of their first non-drug-related DUI will be issued a 12-month license suspension by the DDS.
If your driving record is within acceptable parameters, you could be eligible for a restricted permit to travel between work and school or other permissible destinations.
Early License Reinstatement
After four months, you can apply to have your license reinstated by submitting the necessary paperwork to DDS.
- Your certificate of completion of a state-approved Risk Reduction Program, and
- A reinstatement fee of $210 (or $200 if you’re requesting reinstatement by mail).
Would it be possible to wait 12 months and have your license reinstated automatically? Unfortunately, Georgia law is quite definite – you must meet the two requirements regardless of how long ago your conviction was.
Keep in mind that the license suspension brought on from a conviction is distinct from an “administrative license suspension.” Even prior to standing trial for your DUI case, DDS can impose this administrative suspension.
License Penalties For Drug DUI Convictions
If your DUI charge involves drugs, either alone or in conjunction with alcohol, the license suspension period is much more severe: it lasts 180 days. Sadly, this means there’s no early reinstatement option nor any limited driving permit allowed for a drug DUI conviction. The only silver lining? Reinstate requirements remain equal to those expected with an alcohol-related case – Risk Reduction Program and payment of fees.
What To Expect From Your Criminal Hearing
If this is your first DUI offense in Georgia, be aware that the criminal hearing and administrative license hearing will take place at two different locations with distinct judges. Planning ahead and understanding what to expect can help make these events run smoother.
During your criminal hearing, the other penalties are decided. It is of utmost importance that you have a lawyer present and ready to defend you for the best possible outcome; an experienced attorney can help reduce hefty fines or even avoid jail time altogether. A good DUI defense lawyer at this stage could be what makes all the difference in determining your sentence and future opportunities.
When attending a DUI criminal hearing, it is essential to appear dressed in appropriate attire and with a composed mind. By remaining silent and permitting your lawyer to do the talking, you will ensure that no further information which may work against you is provided accidentally. Remember: less talk significantly lowers one’s risk of incriminating themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Risk Reduction Program?
The Risk Reduction Program is tailored to help you modify your substance use habits. It involves three components – assessment ($75), intervention component ($185), and a materials fee ($15). All in all, the total cost of the course comes out to $280 which is exclusive of any court fees or fines that may have been assigned as part of your sentence.
The assessment stage of the course will take approximately 30 minutes to an hour, while the intervention stage requires a minimum of 20 hours spread across several days. Please bear in mind that your punctual presence is mandatory for the successful completion of this course.
What Will My DUI Probation Include?
The specifics of your probation will be decided by a judge and enforced by your parole officer. The ordinary rules of probation must be followed, but you may have extra conditions such as attending AA or NA gatherings, taking random urine exams, and avoiding drugs and alcohol altogether – this includes abstaining from going to bars or even drinking beer at home. Additionally, it also implies that partying with friends where there is any presence of alcohol should not occur either.
What If I Refuse The Breath Test?
In the state of Georgia, there is a legal presumption that anyone with a driver’s license has already given their consent to take a breath test, also known as implied consent. Nonetheless, an officer cannot compel you to submit to this test and it remains your choice whether or not you do so. However, be aware that if you are convicted of DUI after refusing this examination then one extra year will be added to the suspension period for your license.
Contact Our Vidalia DUI Defense Lawyer Today
If you’ve recently been issued your first DUI offense in Georgia, now is the time to take action. Even though no one was injured during your arrest, you’ll still be charged with serious offenses that could result in steep consequences if not taken care of properly. Make sure to request legal representation within 30 days post-arrest or else face long-term license suspension and more troublesome penalties. At Downie Law, LLC, we have a comprehensive understanding of all Georgia DUI laws so clients like yourself have the proper resources they need after their first DUI offense. Contact our office today for a complimentary case evaluation and to learn more about how we can help.