By: William C. Head, DUI Attorney in Atlanta, GA & Board-Certified DUI Law Specialist
Before being arrested for their first DUI, almost 100% of our clients did not believe that a DUI law violation could happen to them. Being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in GA triggers a wide array of emotions, worries, and anxiety attacks for many. If it is a first DUI arrest, the citizen realizes for the first time how little he or she knew about legal rights and about Georgia DUI law, as found in OCGA 40-6-391. They are unaware of what happens if you get your first DUI in Georgia.
This question about being arrested for drunk driving has to be broken down into various phases, which are: WHAT HAPPENS (1) at the roadway, (2) at the detention facility, (3) at booking and bonding, after being fingerprinted and your mugshot taken, (4) at court, and (5) after a DUI conviction (if that occurs). These are only the CRIMINAL case implications, inasmuch as a DUI refusal or a breathalyzer test above the legal limit after your arrest can trigger ADMINISTRATIVE license penalties.
The term “1st DUI” is a bit ambiguous. It can mean a 1st offense DUI in a lifetime, or (under Georgia DUI laws) a DUI first offense in ten (10) years, which controls the minimum, mandatory criminal punishment, if convicted of drunken driving. For certain, any prior DUI convictions, especially within the past five years will make any second offense DUI or third offense DUI a highly-difficult legal matter to fight in court. All consequences for repeat DUI offenders (if convicted) means more days in jail, more community service hours, loss of driving privileges, higher court costs, and whether the convicted driver becomes eligible for a limited driving permit utilizing an ignition interlock device.
Being convicted of any DUI in GA means that certain unavoidable DUI penalties will befall that person, (assuming that no prior DUI convictions exist from any other state, that no accident involving serious injury or death has occurred, and that no DUI child endangerment additional DUI’s are a factor, from the driver having multiple children under age 14 as passengers) including:
Consequences of a DUI do not stop at the criminal punishment imposed by the criminal court. Since a DUI in Georgia cannot be expunged or have the record restricted, the ball and chain will never leave your ankle, as you drag the heavyweight forward through life. Going back to the days of J Edgar Hoover at the FBI 80 years ago, documenting, maintaining and tracking criminal records is a central part of the federal government and our state governments.
As expected, after a conviction for DUI in GA, your insurance rates for car insurance will be higher for at least 3 years in Georgia. Being able to visit Canada is a huge challenge, and (if you enter the country without permission) is a federal crime in that country. Furthermore, many valuable jobs that have strict background checks would disqualify you from being hired, or from advancing with an existing employer. Military service can be denied or delayed, and (based on past experience of the author) even when an acquittal is obtained, some branches of the military may not allow military personnel to “re-up.”
The truth is that what happens for your 1st DUI offense depends a great deal on your choice of criminal defense attorneys and the quantity of admissible evidence that the police officer collected against you, before and after cuffing you. Other Web pages cover these issues, so follow the links from this Article. At the BOTTOM of this page is a CHART for more details about potential DUI punishment for a first DUI or other offenders.
Plus, for almost ALL people arrested for a DUI GA, you have only 30 days to appeal the administrative license suspension. If you miss this DEADLINE, you are OUT OF LUCK, for saving your right to drive.
Call our 24-HOUR NUMBER, at 404-567-5515, to get a FREE lawyer consultation via phone call, in-person, or via cell phone conferencing technology. Speak to a law office PARTNER about GA DUI laws. Bubba Head, Larry Kohn, or Cory Yager can help CALM your nerves, and explain your options.