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Atlanta DUI Penalties | Georgia DUI Laws | 2nd Toughest

Georgia Has the SECOND Toughest DUI Penalties in America

By Atlanta DUI Lawyer Bubba Head

A recent online report ranked Georgia as having the second toughest DUI penalties.

Georgia DUI penalties, and therefore Atlanta DUI penalties, are among the harshest in America, whether for DUI first offense or a DUI second offense conviction in GA within 10 years. Compared to most states, Georgia driving while impaired laws call for more mandatory, minimum punishment than neighboring states, whether a 1st DUI or second offense DUI.

SOURCE of this 2016 news release on ranking the states with the toughest punishments: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2016/08/12/arizona-toughest-nation-dui-study-says/88636358/

GA DUI Laws Have No First Offender and No Expungement

Georgia has never had a DUI first offender program. In addition, even a first DUI gets no first offender act Georgia option. Plus, no expungement of a drunk driving conviction is possible, and a nolo contendere plea that once let first offenders keep their driver’s license, prior to July 1, 1997 no longer offers any license-saving benefit to even a first-time DUI offender, requiring all to not drive at all or to be able to drive on a restricted license (work permit).

Special costly, inconvenient, and embarrassing penalties for a drunk driving second offense include:

  1. Paying for the publication of your photo and case disposition summary in the local newspaper where legal ads are published.
  2. Having to turn in all tags on all vehicles titled in your name. Then, another family member has to apply for a restricted tag, for a family member that can show hardship by virtue of the vehicle not being able to be driven due to no tag.
  3. You will be pressed to either sign up for the DUI Court program or be threatened with lengthy jail time if you go to trial and lose, or simply plead guilty to the second offense.
  4. To obtain early reinstatement of your GA license, you must sign up and pay for the ignition interlock device. Per year, this interlock device cost is about $3300 to $4000. In addition, you will have monthly visits to the interlock provider to get data downloaded, for probation, and the device will be checked for tampering.
  5. Probation supervision, and related fees for oversight and periodic random urine testing. This invasive process, called ethyl glucuronide urine testing, involves having another person watch you urinate. The enzyme test is done to detect ANY alcohol ingestion within the last 80 hours, since the liver converts ethanol (drinking alcohol) to this by-product. A positive reading sends you to jail for failing your screening test, which is a violation of probation.

Two “lookback” periods for second offense DUI (or subsequent convictions)

In 2008, the Georgia legislature made several alterations to Georgia’s impaired driving laws.  The most impactful change was DOUBLING the length of the “lookback” period for criminal penalties on a 2nd DUI offense (or 3rd DUI or 4th DUI) from a 5-year lookback to a 10-year lookback.

Except for calculating the Georgia driver’s license suspension (which is still calculated on a 5-year lookback), all aspects of a 2nd DUI (e.g., mandatory jail time, massive community service hours, mandatory ignition interlock for early reinstatement of limited license on a repeat offender) were boosted, plus the addition of lengthy alcohol and drug counseling and treatment.

Plus, even for a first-time DUI offense conviction for driving drunk, you could go to jail, be on reporting probation, be subjected to random alcohol and drug testing, find that international travel to certain countries will not be possible, perhaps be judicially suspended from driving, be totally suspended from driving (if it is a driving under the influence of drugs conviction, first offense DUI or 2nd DUI in GA), plus pay fines, surcharges, probation, and supervision fees.

These lookback periods are statutory and cannot be manipulated, waived, or shortened. The relevant dates for the dual lookback periods, on a 2nd offense DUI, are from date-of-arrest on the prior case to new date-of-arrest. Once this information is obtained, the two relevant “lookback” periods are:

DUI criminal charge – 10-year lookback period applies, for mandatory minimum punishment, including jail time, community service, alcohol and drug assessment and required treatment, and risk reduction school (DUI classes)

DUI license suspension – 5-year lookback applies, to determine limited permit and ignition interlock issues.

2nd DUI in GA Within 5 Years or 10 Years

If you have a second DUI conviction within 10 years, you need to do whatever you can to retain the best criminal defense attorney in Georgia. DUI consequences ramp up considerably from a first offense DUI to what occurs after a 2nd DUI, so do all you can to avoid the impact on your criminal history.

In some State courts, the DUI court programs have been used like a battering ram, to force a person with a 2nd DUI offense to enter the long and potentially punitive 24-month (or longer) probation period, or face a lengthy jail term if convicted at trial.

Because a driving impaired conviction is forever, the immediate pain of criminal sanctions and loss of driving privileges are just the tip of the iceberg. Depending on whether the DUI in Georgia is for DUI first offense or 2nd DUI in GA, Georgia uses separate “lookback” periods to determine the criminal punishment and the DDS GA impact on a Georgia driver’s license. Out of state licensees may have even MORE problems getting reinstated that a Georgia licensee.

The 15 Most Important “Quality of Case” Factors

Fifteen (15) primary factors need to be taken into account about the “quality” of a driving under the influence case, second offense DUI, before assessing the possible DUI penalties for any violation of GA drunk driving laws. If the criminal case can be won (by trial or the DUI reduced to reckless driving, through a negotiated plea), then some or all of the typical criminal law penalties can be avoided if the criminal charges are reduced.

The starting point of the discussion is whether this is a first DUI or a 2nd DUI in GA, of course. However, many other tangible and intangible factors will come into play in determining the difficulty level in negotiating a plea to reduced charges, or fighting the DUI case at trial. Based on each one of these factors, a case can be better or worse, in terms of a DUI lawyer trying to negotiate it down to a lesser plea, or fighting the case in court:

  1. Was this a drunk driving accident, and if so, was anyone else injured in any vehicle?
  2. If a DUI accident occurred, is there plentiful liability insurance to FULLY resolve claims?
  3. Is there video and audio footage from a body camera or police car camera?
  4. What admissions or self-incriminatory statements were made that cannot be suppressed?
  5. Was any bad or inappropriate behavior exhibited by our client toward police?
  6. Did the client self-incriminate by attempting to perform any roadside tests of any type?
  7. Did the client submit to the optional voluntary roadside, hand-held breathalyzer test?
  8. Once the officer announced the drunk driving arrest, was there any resistance by our client?
  9. After the Georgia implied consent law notice was read, did the client take or refuse testing?
  10. If the test required by implied consent was taken, what were the results?
  11. After agreeing to take the State’s test, was an independent test demanded and obtained?
  12. If the GA implied consent test was REFUSED, did the officer get a warrant for blood?
  13. Did the client protect driving privileges by timely filing a 30-day license suspension appeal?
  14. Which court, judge, and prosecutor are we going to be encountering at criminal court?
  15. Does your drunk driving lawyer have a proven track record of consistently winning DUI cases?

Hire  an Atlanta DUI Law Firm With Three DUI Specialists & DUI Book Authors

Drunk driving book author William C. “Bubba” Head, an Atlanta DUI attorney and criminal defense lawyer, is Board-Certified in drunk driving defense. He wrote his first of 12 books on drunk driving law in 1991. Hire Mr. Head as your expert DUI attorney, or one of his law partners. The lawyers at our DUI law firm, are all DUI specialists, and can assist you on a repeat DUI offense.

In 2016, both Cory Yager and Larry Kohn authored chapters on a national book for DUI attorneys, published by Aspatore Publishing (a division of Thomson-Reuters-West).

So, call partners Larry Kohn, Cory Yager, or Bubba Head for help on a repeat offense driving while intoxicated case. Acting in an advisory role, as “of counsel,” 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. Atlanta DUI penalties are the 2nd toughest in the country. You need an equally tough attorney team. The law office of William C. Head, PC.

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