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DUI in Georgia: DUI Laws, GA DUI Penalties & Consequences


By: Cory Yager and Larry Kohn, Award-Winning Georgia Attorneys for DUI Atlanta GA DUI Arrests

Georgia DUI laws have been set up to restrict a judge’s ability to withhold punishment and statutory, minimum mandatory Georgia DUI penalties. Georgia drinking and driving laws for the last two decades (since 2001) have increasingly added conditions and license restrictions for those convicted of DUI offenses in Georgia.

GA DUI Lawyers Larry Kohn, Bubba Head, and Cory Yager

That year (2001) was when the Georgia DUI limit for alcohol was dropped from 0.10 grams percent to 0.08 grams percent, as the alcohol limit in GA. The Legislature imposed a mandatory jail sentence for any person convicted of driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration on any Georgia DUI with that BAC level and being above the legal alcohol limit GA.

Quantitation of a person’s blood alcohol level can be obtained from a blood or breath alcohol chemical test. The GBI no longer reports alcohol levels for urine tests.

These extractions of blood or breath are obtained either through the Georgia implied consent law or via judicial warrant. Warrants for blood are routinely sought by police when detained driver is deemed to have refused post-arrest testing as required by implied consent laws in GA.

Without doubt, drinking alcohol is what causes most Georgia DUI arrests. In addition to DUI by alcohol or drugs, any other form of intoxicant can lead to an impaired driving conviction (inhaling glue, huffing fumes from solvents or paint), as well as from designer drugs or marijuana.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime in every state or commonwealth, even if a difference acronym is used. Typically, the impaired driver will be accused of being under the influence of alcohol or by drugs.

DUI in Georgia 404.567.5515

Is DUI a Felony in Georgia?

Naive potential clients are so clueless on how harsh Georgia law on drunk driving are that they search for terms like “what is the fine for a DUI in Georgia” or “how much is a DUI ticket in Georgia?” Our attorneys in Atlanta quickly inform them that any fines and surcharges upon being convicted are the least of the problems that DUI convictions will bring.

This page covers Georgia DUI sentencing guidelines for a DUI misdemeanor Georgia as well as DUI Georgia felony laws for any 4th DUI (or subsequent) conviction within 10 years. To determine the 10-year time frame, use dates of arrest.

Georgia is nationally known for its draconian DUI punishments, and for its “DUI less safe” for a person to drive intoxicated driving law. Our Georgia DUI statute, OCGA 40-6-391, has been amended in about a dozen ways in the last 20 years.

For most of our drunk driving Georgia clients, it is a first DUI in Georgia. For a 1st DUI in the State of Georgia, the Georgia DUI-DWI Atlanta sentencing guidelines are relatively benign, when compared to what happens upon a 2nd DUI in GA.

For our lawyers in Atlanta, the objective is to PREVENT DUI convictions in Georgia, whether a 1st offense DUI in Georgia or some subsequent violation of drinking and driving laws in Georgia. No matter whether your conviction is for being incapable of driving safely due to drug impairment or being over the legal limit of alcohol, a first offense DUI can be devastating to your plans for future employment or advancement.

What Are the Penalties for DUI in Georgia, Felony or Misdemeanor?

In addition to reviewing the DUI Georgia first offense penalties, including the DUI fine in GA, this article breaks down each DUI penalty by category. Because many citizens don’t research Georgia tough DUI laws, they sometimes just plead guilty to a first offense DUI Georgia, only to regret that mistake for decades afterward.

These DUI sanctions are the penalties for a DUI in Georgia first offense. As the number of convictions increase, additional requirements are added to the list of punishments for a repeat offender. Those extra DUI penalties are shown below, after this section on a DUI 1st offense.

For a conviction of a first time DUI offense in Georgia, a minimum of 40 hours of community service is mandated, but the judge can impose more hours. Plus, on a 1st DUI in Georgia, the driver’s license (or privilege to drive) in Georgia is suspended for 1 year.  A first DUI in GA also requires a base fine of $300 to $1000, plus state and local surcharges that can double the fine amount assessed by the judge.

To assure that the driver does not have an alcohol or drug addiction issue that needs counseling or treatment, Georgia judges routinely require an alcohol and drug substance abuse assessment by a state certified counselor. Probation for a full year (minus any days served in jail) are mandatory for a conviction of a first DUI in Georgia. A conviction creates a permanent record of conviction for the first offender DUI Georgia.

Those 7 categories of criminal punishment for a first DUI in GA are as follows:

  1. Incarceration: Jail time or state prison sentence is a potential punishment for a first offense, and a mandatory penalty for every repeat offense conviction within 10 years of the date of a prior DUI in GA (or any other state). The number of days of jail time for DUI in Georgia is determined by which offense (within ten years) the conviction is involved. misdemeanor or felony. Depending on the case facts and if a repeat offense, misdemeanor vs felony, jail or prison time can be for up to 5 years.

DUI Jail Time

2.  Mandatory probation. Probation for 12 months for a first offense and a longer probation term for repeat violators who are convicted again.

3.   License suspension. The availability of when an interlock device may be utilized for early reinstatement varies with which repeat offense is involved.

4.   DUI fine in GA: Fines and surcharges in a Georgia DUI run between $300 and $5,000, with surcharges that may double the fine amount.

5.   Alcohol and drug screening and (if recommended) to follow treatment

6.   Community service hours

7.   Permanent criminal record for a misdemeanor or felony conviction.

GA laws require much more community service, jail time and loss of driving privileges for repeat offenders. 240 hours of community service for a 2nd or 3rd DUI, and 480 community service hours for a felony 4th DUI.

In addition to the seven penalties set forth above, up to five additional punishments will follow any second DUI, third DUI, DUI fourth offense or subsequent offenses in Georgia:

  1. License tag surrender upon conviction on all vehicles in the defendant’s name;
  2. Publication of the details of the conviction plus the defendant’s mugshot in the local legal organ, with the defendant paying the newspaper publication costs;
  3. Driver license revocation on a third DUI or fourth DUI;
  4. Being declared a habitual violator for and DUI 3rd (or subsequent) within 5 years (measured by dates of arrest); and
  5. Restricting your ability to leave the state of Georgia during probation due to Interstate Compact restrictions under Rule 2.105.

Beyond criminal punishment, painful loss of driving privileges from violating Georgia implied consent laws can impact a person, even if not convicted of a GA DUI. After being arrested, any refusal to be tested by a breathalyzer or urine test can cost you the right to drive due to administrative license suspension.

Plus, another part of OCGA 40-5-67.1 creates a possible suspension for submitting to post-arrest testing and blowing over the legal limit for adults (0.080 grams or more). In such cases, the arresting officer is supposed to fill out an administrative license suspension form and send that to DDS Georgia.

In July of 2017, an amendment to the implied consent suspension rules was enacted. Georgia licensed drivers who are 21 or older when arrested and have no prior DUI convictions in the past 5 years are eligible to install an ignition interlock device for 12 months, if he or she is facing a DUI refusal “hard” license suspension. The decision on installing interlock or not should only be made under advice of an experienced DUI lawyer.

DUI Lawyers Cory Yager and Larry Kohn

What Is the Alcohol Legal Limit in GA?

Conviction brings 24 hours of jail time for a first DUI in Georgia if the driver is convicted of exceeding the Georgia alcohol limit by having 0.08 grams or more of alcohol in his or her system. Two other GA drinking limit numbers apply to young drivers who are not yet 21 or older (a 0.02 grams percent standard) and for any driver of a CMV (commercial motor vehicle), the GA drinking limit is a 0.04 grams percent.

The 0.02 standard is Georgia’s version of a zero-tolerance law in Georgia, to comply with federal guidelines. The provisions for this low BAC threshold are in subsection (k)(1) of O.C.G.A. 40 6 391.

Seeing all the details of the penalties, consequences and inconveniences created by a conviction for DUI in GA, why not call us now for a FREE consultation. Our 24-hour number is 404-567-5515. The FREE lawyer consultation with Bubba Head, Larry Kohn or ex-cop Cory Yager will give you clarity of what you are facing and inform you or your options for fighting your DUI charges.

Atlanta Attorney Bubba Head

Additional Related Links:

Most important case in GA DUI laws 2019: Elliott v. State, which voided the implied consent notice

William Head’s Penalties for DUI Chart Georgia

GA DUI laws 2018: No significant changes in GA Code 40-6-391

GADUI laws: 2017 – Passage of OCGA 40-5-64.1 (Ignition Interlock Device) Option from taking traditional DDS GA appeal, for DUI refusal to submit to implied consent testing post-arrest

Georgia Department of Driver Services link for license reinstatement after a DUI Conviction


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in Cobb County, GA:
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