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DUI: Drunk Driving Laws in Georgia Explained

Kohn and Yager, LLC - GA DUI Lawyers in Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Atlanta and Marietta, GA

By: Cory Yager Ex-Cop and Now a DUI Lawyer GA, and Larry Kohn, DUI Lawyer Atlanta, at Georgia’s Premier DUI Law Firm for a FREE Initial Lawyer Consultation and FREE DUI Advice

Georgia DUI laws have been rated by some sources as being among the toughest motor vehicle provisions in America. This article is NOT written for the benefit or comprehension level of DUI lawyers. It is written by the average citizen charged with DUI in GA, and needing DUI help from experts in the field.

Short definitions (with links inserted) are given within this Georgia drunk driving law posting, and their significance explained. For example, this bonus, 11th answer about, “What is OCGA DUI?” will start you off:

O.C.G.A. is the acronym (abbreviation) for Official Code of Georgia Annotated. On most uniform traffic citations, this DUI code is written or typed in. Within the various subparts are the many Georgia law code provisions contained within OCGA 40-6-391. This code section is merely one of thousands of statutes within the entire Georgia code of laws, and another 10 of those DUI-related statutes will be outline here.

However, various other important “related” statutes applicable to a DUI in Georgia must also be given consideration. These other important statutes will be set forth below, too.

WORD OF CAUTION: Many time-sensitive legal issues will need to be addressed as soon after your arrest as possible. So, bringing yourself up to speed on your legal rights and obligations is essential. Taking quick action in hiring legal counsel possibly holds the answer to winning, reducing, or dismissing a DUI case.

DUI Lawyers who are Georgia Super Lawyers, with over 30 recognitions by this website for our three DUI attorneys near me; over 83 years of combined legal service dedicated to statewide service.

Answering Clients’ Top 10 Questions About Fighting Their DUI Cases

By answering the Top TEN Georgia “DUI meaning” law questions below, the top 10 Georgia statutes controlling DUI cases are covered. These statutory references and DUI info typically can be found in the various forms and paperwork received by those arrested for driving under the influence in the Peach State.

  1. What is the minimum jail time that I would serve if convicted of DUI laws in Georgia? While repeat offenders cannot hope for anything close to this, a first offense DUI should expect 24 hours, if convicted. When there is no alcohol breath test or blood test of 0.08 grams percent or higher, which is codified as a 1st offense DUI less safe, OCGA 40-6-391(a)(1).
  2. What is the implied consent law? At the suggestion of the federal government, all states were required to enact state laws sanctioning any arrested drunk drivers if he or she refused to agree to a post-arrest forensic test of blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances. The Georgia counterpart is found in O.C.G.A. 40-5-55. Georgia OCGA 40-5-67.1 is the statute that primarily controls implied consent laws in GA. See the full list of ways the Peach State can take away your right to drive by clicking the link.
  3. After arrest, I received a form stating that I only had 30 days within which to either file an appeal to Georgia DDS or to have a one-year ignition interlock installed on my car. How do I decide which to take?

Your DUI defense attorney should be your guide to what is best for you, but under OCGA 40-5-64.1, Georgia licensees (age 21 and older) arrested in Georgia on a first offense DUI within the past 5 years may elect to install and pay the costs of a 12-month ignition interlock program through DDS GA. Unless the driver was charged with refusal to submit to post-arrest testing that driver should always file the GA DDS appeal within 30 days after arrest, and pay the $150 appeal fee.

  1. At the time of arrest, the police officer confiscated my drivers’ license. When will I get my driver license back? That depends on several factors, including the outcome of any administrative driver’s license appeal, or (if applicable) a DUI first offender deciding to take the option of installing an ignition interlock device on one vehicle for a year. The GA Code section controlling this suspension is OCGA 40-5-63.
  2. How long is the license suspension on a first DUI offense? The maximum loss of driving privileges for violating this code section 12 months of no license. Those who take the post-arrest implied consent test when arrested are eligible for a limited permit immediately, if the person arrested is a Georgia licensee, age 21 and older.
  3. If I call an attorney for legal advice, am I obligated to hire that person or law firm? No. When asking for a free lawyer consultation, consider many factors, including the time you are given to ask questions, and the targeted legal advice provided. More importantly, does this DUI defense attorney sound like a truly knowledgeable expert in DUI defense?
  4. What is DUI child endangerment? Under OCGA § 40 6 391(l), driving under the influence with any child in the vehicle creates immense new legal problems. Under GA laws on DUI, endangering a child under the age of 14 constitutes a NEW DUI charge for every such child passenger within that vehicle. This law can be devastating to the driver with multiple under-14 passengers, since all DUIs are stacked, end-to-end, for punishment and loss of driving privileges.
  5. After my accident, I was told that I was being charged with homicide by vehicle. Is that a felony DUI? Any DUI driver involved in a crash resulting in death of another person is called vehicular homicide GA under OCGA 40-6-393. Similarly, causing the death of an unborn child is called feticide by vehicle in Georgia, and is a special felony statute [OCGA 40-6-393.1] that is predicated on that underlying DUI misdemeanor.
  6. What are the various types of DUI charges that can be accused in the State of Georgia? Various subsections of O.C.G.A. 40 6 391 cover both per se DUI and for driving while it is less safe for the person to drive a vehicle. The special driving while under the influence of any drug toxic vapor is 40-6-391(a)(3).
  7. How does the DUI statute of limitations Georgia come into play in my DUI prosecution? The statute of limitations, Georgia DUI, defaults to the usual time period, under OCGA 17-3-1. The statute of limitations, DUI Georgia, is two (2) years, as with other Georgia misdemeanor crimes. Seldom does the statute of limitations offer our law office’s clients a way to win their cases, but it has happened.

A Third DUI in Georgia Within 5 Years Creates Habitual Violator Georgia Status

Under OCGA Georgia minimum punishment standards, what is the absolute least DUI punishment for a 3rd DUI in Georgia with the prior 10 years? Since July 1, 2008, the rules for mandatory increased criminal law punishments (e.g., jail time and fines) has been measured by a 10-year “lookback” period.

Additionally, in GA, being convicted of 3 DUIs in 5 years revokes your driver’s license. This is part of Georgia’s “HV” (habitual violator GA) laws. Revocation means that your permission to drive is removed from the books as being a valid licensed driver, until and unless you wait out the revocation period and then take the steps re-qualify to drive again, including taking the in-car driving test with a State Trooper again.

For a quick look at how violations of DUI laws in GA for a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th offense are penalized, see the helpful GA DUI laws chart (below) created by veteran, Board-Certified Atlanta DUI attorney William C. Head.

Georgia DUI Laws and DUI Penalties Infographic by DUI book author and Board-Certified DUI lawyer William C. Head, practicing DUI law in GA since 1976.

Call Today For Your FREE Consultation – What Do You Have to Lose?

Only by listening to time-sensitive and targeting information about YOUR case facts can you evaluate your choice for your legal counsel. Simply looking for lawyers near me is a crapshoot. Don’t roll the dice on your future. Contact us at 404-567-5515. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day.

Award-winning trio of DUI defense attorneys based in metro Atlanta for your Atlanta DUI or in any other Georgia court location - William Head, Larry Kohn and Cory Yager

For some clients who did refuse a blood test or breathalyzer after being cuffed, our law group may advise you to opt for the ignition interlock device available under OCGA 40-5-64.1. This must be specially processed through the Georgia Department of Driver Services, so do not miss your 30-day deadline to either appeal to GA DDS or opt for that IID limited permit for a full year.

This short introduction explains why our DUI law firm fights these DUI charges, to find a better legal solution for our clients, and save their driver license. Even if you took the post-arrest test and have a reading over the Georgia DUI limit, our three award-winning DUI attorneys and legal book authors often obtain a non-DUI disposition for our clients.

Bubba Head Books

GA DUI Laws 2019: First Offender DUI Georgia

A first offense DUI in GA criminal violation will remain on your criminal record FOR LIFE. This is one of the only crimes for which Georgia’s first offender act is specifically embargoed from being used. Because convictions under GA DUI laws cannot be expunged, including a first offense DUI, our DUI Atlanta law firm stays busy fighting all our clients’ driving under the influence offenses. In addition to the author of this article, Larry Kohn and Georgia’s top DUI lawyer, Bubba Head are available to give you a free consultation.

The Georgia DUI law is found in O.C.G.A. 40-6-391. Below is an infographic that covers not just a first offense DUI, but all levels of DUI punishment for felony or misdemeanor DUI in Georgia. The pink highlighted area covers first DUI in GA. The last bracket of DUI penalties in Georgia, for a 4th DUI in GA within 10 years is for a DUI felony Georgia.

Georgia DUI Penalties Chart

This infographic above was created by William C. Head, has been a published legal book author since 1991, on the topic of how to beat a DUI. He also created a tri-fold flyer for criminal court judges who preside over the 1000-plus different DUI courts in Georgia. The image on Georgia laws for DUI is just ONE sheet (page) of that six-image flyer.

Without doubt, having a prior DUI conviction creates unexpected barriers to employment, especially in a major metropolitan city like Atlanta, Georgia. An arrest record for DUI in Georgia laws can plague you, too. But, by winning the case, a person can limit any damage, because few employers can ignore the fact that you won your case.

However, for some first offense driving under the influence GA cases, the mere arrest record can pose a significant problem. The situations our lawyers in Atlanta have encountered (for DUI penalties in Georgia) have been restricted to some very high-level security employment sectors.

We will review all DUI consequences Georgia with you, when we meet for your FREE lawyer consultation. Call today at 404-567-5515 and ask about our legal fee payment plans.

DUI penalties for drunk driving convictions in Georgia can last forever. Hiring the right DUI specialist is critical for that person to be able to drive. When accused of the motor vehicle crime of being DUI less safe, your refusal to acquiesce to post-arrest DUI testing can trigger a total license suspension.

Georgia DUI Laws: What Happens When You Get a DUI in Georgia?

Not only can violating DUI laws Georgia affect your car insurance premiums, but your entire insurance rating (e.g., for life insurance) can be affected. So, the list of DUI penalties Georgia creeps into your pocketbook in many ways, and for many years.

By contrast a BUI Georgia has no impact on your GA DDS driving privileges in GA, but a conviction for a BUI charge can cost you boating privileges for a full year. Other states, like Missouri, will “count” a BUI from any state as a prior impaired driving offense, however.

Until convicted, no permanent criminal record for conviction of a drunk driving offense exists. This pertains to alcohol or drugs. A DUI attorney knows that raising legal challenges to the evidence and having court rulings on the record are crucial to fighting a DUI successfully.

Avoiding conviction for a DUI in Georgia is the objective, so do not trust that difficult task to just any DUI lawyers near me. Even if you were unaware that all roadside sobriety tests are NOT scientific and are voluntary, you know it now. Even if you attempted the bogus tests, our criminal lawyers near me can usually assist accused citizens.

Additional Helpful Links

Wording of the Georgia DUI statute O.C.G.A. 40-6-391

GA DUI laws 2018

GA DUI laws 2020

Some of Our Busiest Municipal Courts:

Sandy Springs Municipal Court

Roswell Municipal Court

Atlanta Municipal Court

Marietta Municipal Court

Alpharetta Municipal Court

Athens Municipal Court (Athens-Clarke County Municipal Court)


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5600 Roswell Rd
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Sandy Springs, GA 30342
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235 Peachtree Street NE
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Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 567-5515
in Cobb County, GA:
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Marietta, GA 30060
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in North Fulton County, GA:
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