Georgia DUI Law – 2nd DUI in GA Felony and Misdemeanor
By: William C. Head, Board-Certified Atlanta DUI Lawyer
The difference between DUI penalties for a Georgia DUI first offense and a 2nd DUI in GA is significant. Felony vs misdemeanor often depends on whether drunk driving accidents have occurred in which a death or a serious injury by vehicle has resulted. A DUI accident can make ANY DUI offense a felony, but most cases in GA are prosecuted as misdemeanor DUI cases.
Across the board, 2nd DUI in GA penalties are substantially greater, insofar as mandatory, minimum punishments. Drunk driving accident penalties, whether for a first offense DUI or a second offense DUI MAY involve either felony or misdemeanor DUI penalties.
If serious injury or death occur, regardless of the type of DUI (i.e., alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, Suboxone, Xanax) prescribed medications), you will be facing felony charges. This article reviews drunk driving penalties for a second DUI in Georgia, in both the felony and misdemeanor scenarios.
Two different “lookback” periods control what constitutes a 2nd DUI in GA, for DUI penalties and for DUI license suspension consequences. In a DUI case in Georgia, “date-of-arrest” is the pivotal timing date to utilize, for both driver’s license loss, reinstatement, and criminal penalties such as jail time. While a second DUI offender within the past 5 years cannot take advantage of the new ignition interlock option, effective July 1, 2017 and after, he or she CAN and SHOULD file an administrative license suspension appeal, within the new 30 calendar day “deadline” under OCGA 40-5-64.1.
LICENSE SUSPENSION – Uses a 5-year lookback period, for 2nd DUI, 3rd DUI or subsequent convictions. Even if 2nd DUI in GA in the last 5 years, filing the Georgia DDS appeal makes sense.
DUI CRIMINAL PUNISHMENT – Uses a 10-year lookback, in setting forth MINIMUM, MANDATORY punishment for a 2nd offense driving under the influence in Georgia, under Georgia DUI laws.
Therefore, date of arrest must be known for all cases, in order to know the “minimums” below which the Prosecutor can go. Just looking at jail time, while some first offense DUI cases can have zero jail time, after conviction, a Georgia DUI second offense within 10 years requires 72 hours, at a very minimum.
A 3rd DUI calls for not less than 15 days, if within 10 years. Next, a 4th DUI within 10 years becomes a felony DUI in Georgia, and mandates not less than 90 days in jail or state prison, as an absolute minimum.
DUI Consequences Go Beyond Immediate, Court-Imposed Penalties
Intangible factors must be taken into account, especially in looking at whether a driving under the influence case can be negotiated to a non-DUI disposition, or must go to trial. Most of our clients are looking for their DUI to be reduced to reckless driving, whether the legal violation is a 1st DUI offense or a second DUI offense in GA.
This is a great resolution, since all drivers age 21 and older (by getting the DUI reduced) will not lose their right to drive, by operation of law. This outcome allows the accused drunk driver to dodge the Georgia license suspension, even for a second offense DUI.
For some 1st DUI offense cases, even the availability of a limited permit after a first offense DUI poses problems for some clients, such as getting a rental car for completing job responsibilities. Therefore, the reckless driving reduction is beneficial to all 2nd DUI in Georgia offenders, as well as a DUI 1st offense.
Every driving under the influence case is both unique and challenging. Every set of facts poses its own obstacles and opportunities for your criminal attorney. Many variables and factors CAN play a role in certain cases, including your DUI attorneys’ relationship with the police officer, the prosecutor, and the Court.
Additionally, if the Client is currently on probation for any other offense, or had other serious traffic tickets issued in the current case like hit and run, driving on a suspended license, driving without insurance, or any at-fault accident issues, the chances of any negotiated plea that does not include a drunk driving conviction is slim. This is where a skilled DUI attorney can make the biggest difference in the outcome of a DUI trial.
Don’t think a first offense drunken driving conviction is “no problem!”
Because ANY driving while intoxicated conviction in Georgia will remain on your driving history and criminal record forever, a 1st offense DUI is worth fighting.
If serious injury occurs from a drunk driving accident, or someone dies, both the first and second DUI in GA will face FELONY DUI treatment, for the serious injury by vehicle or the vehicular homicide, based upon a drunk driving or drugged driving charge.
This includes up to 15 years in State prison PER serious injury and/or death, and the Judge can stack the sentences on top of each other (this is called consecutive sentences).
Georgia DUI Laws Have Felony DUI for a 4th DUI Conviction in 10 Years
As of July 1, 2008, for all cases made on or after that date, potential felony DUI punishment was applicable under Georgia DUI law. The law, however, was not as draconian as Michigan’s change of their OWI laws a little more than a decade ago, where a third offense in your LIFETIME became a felony, even when the other cases were already on the books before the new law took place.
The Georgia Legislature, however, added a “grace” period to Georgia DUI law for DUI felonies, saying that ALL four of the drunk driving offenses must have a date of arrest of July 1, 2008 or after, to make a 4th DUI a DUI felony in GA.
As expected, the DUI penalties for any felony drunk driving charge (4th DUI offense or more within 10 years) are harsher, and require all jail time to be served in State prison. So, the second major change for Georgia DUI laws in the 2008 legislative session was to ADD a DUI felony offense for any person who has four or more drunk driving convictions within a 10-year period.
This new felony DUI law is now affecting an increasing number of repeat offenders. Georgia measures criminal convictions from “date of arrest” to “date of arrest.” Both in-state and out-of-state driving under the influence offenses count.
Georgia Driver’s License “Lookback” Period Remains at 5 Years
One thing that was not altered was the Georgia intoxicated driving law controlling the applicable lookback period when the GA DDS administratively suspends or revokes a Georgia driver’s license. That remained at a five-year lookback, for determining if a driver is eligible for full license reinstatement or whether that driver would be required to install an ignition interlock device to obtain early license reinstatement.
Simply put, by way of example, if the DUI 2nd offense arrest was one day before the start of year 5, for the last DUI arrest, an ignition interlock would be required for the DUI second offense conviction, plus mandatory additional DUI jail time and much more. Plus, any DUI refusal ALS suspension cannot be resolved by use of an ignition interlock device (IID). If the 2nd DUI occurred five years or more, but less than 10 years have passed, you can get a limited permit (like any other DUI first offense), but all other DUI second offense punishments will apply, including community service, jail time, etc.
Georgia drinking and driving law says that a second DUI within 10 years triggers a mandatory minimum of 72 hours in jail. The statute says from “90 days to one year,” but permits the sentencing judge to suspend all of the jail time except 72 hours. Most judges will not give the minimum sentence by the way, and 10 days to 30 days is a common range that our Georgia DUI lawyers see in courts across Georgia.
This is why the best Georgia criminal attorneys command premium DUI fees, because a DUI lawyer knows how to win many cases by a reduction, or by going to trial. In addition, the DUI defense lawyers at our DUI law firm know every aspect of controlling sentencing for clients with a second drunk driving conviction within 10 years, whether it be getting the DUI reduced to reckless driving or winning at a pretrial suppression motion.
Will DUI Laws in Georgia Allow an Attorney to Negotiate a DUI Reduced to Reckless Driving?
A reckless driving in Georgia is NOT a “lesser included offense” of driving under the influence, under GA DUI laws. However, some of the elements of the offense of reckless driving in Georgia may exist in most Georgia intoxicated driving cases. However, if you have a bad prior criminal history, such as being arrested for two DUIs in 5 years, do not expect miracles.
Depending on the outcome of the case for your DUI first offense, a criminal defense lawyer in Atlanta may be able to negotiate a favorable plea reduction.
A DUI in Georgia, for a repeat offender, poses major challenges. Prosecutors become unwilling to discuss a reduction to reckless driving. For most of our clients, a reckless driving charge is highly desirable, in light of the lifetime of DUI consequences posed by a criminal conviction.
This is where hiring one of the best DUI lawyers from a highly-rated GA DUI law firm is important. In an average year, our three partners at our law office are able to obtain reductions on hundreds of GA DUI cases.
Drunk driving book author William C. “Bubba” Head, Atlanta criminal defense lawyer and Board-Certified drunk driving defense expert attorney, or one of the other law partners at William C. Head, PC, who are also specialists, can assist you on a repeat DUI offense.
So, call partners Larry Kohn, Cory Yager, or Bubba Head for help on a repeat offense driving while intoxicated case. The three book authors and Super Lawyers are ready to GUIDE your PATH to a successful case outcome.
Former municipal court judges Maurice H. Hilliard, Jr. of Roswell Municipal Court and Mickey Roberts of Suwanee Municipal Court back up our veteran team of criminal defense lawyers.
If you need a 24-hour lawyer, call us now for immediate help. (404) 567-5515. Our FREE professional criminal case assessment is worth your time and energy. If winning is your objective, call our Georgia DUI law firm today. Below are some of the book, or books with chapters provided, but our DUI lawyers.