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First Time DUI Offense in Georgia: 1st DUI Penalties in GA

By: William C. Head, Drunk Driving Book Author and Best-Known DUI Lawyer in Georgia

Atlanta First DUI Lawyer Bubba Head

Following their first time being put in handcuffs, citizens arrested for DUI in Georgia start their Internet search. They seek information about what happens for your first DUI conviction, usually by using online searches for criminal defense attorneys near me or similar phrases..

A 1st offense DUI in Georgia is one of the serious misdemeanors under the Peach State’s motor vehicle crimes code. If convicted of a first offense DUI, even a first conviction creates a lifetime criminal record that cannot be expunged or restricted after sentencing.

GA First Offense DUI

What citizens learn about first DUI penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (even if a 1st DUI offense) is beyond disturbing, since a conviction for a Georgia DUI first offense threatens their insurance rating, their current or future job opportunities, their family harmony and long-term future.

In some states, like California, Mississippi, Maryland, Illinois, Alabama, Oregon and Washington State and others, a first-time offender DUI or OWI is “no big deal.” That is because most first DUI offence cases can either be diverted, expunged or otherwise masked from criminal records.

Unlike most other crimes that can be given first offender act treatment or some sort of one-time diversion or conditional discharge, drunk driving or drugged driving are banned in Georgia. No person convicted of a first DWI offense can obtain any such record-clearing benefits.

Even the statutory minimums offered on a first DUI offense in GA plea bargain can’t be accepted, if you a person with lofty aspirations and a possible political or corporate career. In some clients’ cases, the fact that their driving privileges will be suspended at the Georgia Department of Driver Services compels them to fight their case.

Plus, other penalties and consequences that can derail future or present employment opportunities. One common example of this is that due to the mandatory 12 months of probation, you will not be allowed to join the military until after the probation period is over and your case is closed.

DUI Jail Time

DUI first offense jail time can vary greatly, depending on the court in which your case is pending. Be aware that jail for a DUI first offense is imposed in almost every case, if convicted under O.C.G.A. 40-6-391. The statute mandates 24 hours in jail if blood alcohol or breath alcohol levels are 0.080 grams percent or more.

Some judges will let your time served after arrest cover the incarceration required by Georgia DUI laws. So, for your 1st offense DUI misdemeanor, expect jail, fines and a permanent criminal history with any first offense DUI conviction. This first section of this comprehensive article covers why the first dui offense can cause life-altering barriers for your future.

The Penalties for DUI in Georgia First offense

First Offense DUI Georgia

According to WalletHub, a first offense DUI conviction in Georgia can result in the nation’s toughest overall punishments, with only Arizona more punitive. This high standing is due to Georgia’s “no expunction” rule for a DUI 1st offense (or any other subsequent offense).

Georgia laws have never allowed sealing of records of DUI, withholding judgment, diversion, conditional discharge, nor permit our state’s First Offender Act to be used on DUI convictions. This means no record restriction or expungement is available to hide the DUI from your criminal record.

GA Criminal Records

Beyond this highly difficult rule causing a permanent criminal record, loss of your plastic driver’s license occurs, at the time of conviction. Georgia licensees age 21 and over for whom no administrative suspension for one year had been imposed can get immediate limited driving privileges for 120 days, and then fill reinstate their full plastic license through GA DDS.

Non-resident drivers lose the right to drive in Georgia for one year but may be able to attend a Georgia risk reduction course of comparable course in another state to get reinstated after 120 days, so long as their state of licensure allows reinstatement. By way of example, in Illinois, that driver may still be required to obtain a MDDP (monitoring device driver’s permit) to drive in that state.

How Georgia Implied Consent Laws Can Impact the Right to Drive

Georgia DUI Implied Consent

Implied consent laws in GA are also tough, calling for a 1 year “hard suspension” if an administrative license suspension for a DUI refusal occurs, following an arrest for DUI in GA. An implied consent law is a DUI-related statute that administratively takes away driving privileges for arrested drunken drivers who decline to allow police to obtain a post-arrest forensic blood, breath or urine same to quantitate what is in the driver’s system.

The process for this type of suspension is that the arresting officer cuffs the driver, and then immediately reads a green card called an implied consent notice. The advisement is telling the arrested DUI suspect that his or her continued driving privileges in GA are conditioned on saying yes to a post-arrest test of a bodily substance.

Any refusal will result in issuance of a DDS-1205 driver license suspension form. This contains notices of 30 days to appeal OR have an ignition interlock device installed for a year (for those who are eligible.)

Since July 1, 2017, Georgia has had an interlock option (OCGA 40-5-64.1) for most Georgia licensees who are age 21 and over and this is a 1st DUI in 5 years, measured by dates of arrest. Non-resident licensees and drivers under age 21 are barred from using this 12-month ignition interlock alternative.

Atlanta DUI Attorney Larry Kohn is shown below:

Georgia DUI Lawyer Larry Kohn

21 Questions Commonly Asked About a First DUI Offense

  1. How much does a first offense DUI cost, if I am convicted?

Convictions for DUI in Georgia bring fines of $300 to $1,000. But the fine amount will be doubled (roughly) due to state surcharges and add-ons on drunk driving charges. Any DUI drugs first offense also brings total loss of the ability to drive in GA for 6 months. CAUTION: Simply looking at court costs is a failed strategy, since a DUI in GA carries lifetime DUI consequences.

  1. Should I fight my first-time offense DUI?

With very few exceptions, every person should locate a DUI lawyer with top attorney ratings nearby and take advantage of a free consultation. This should galvanize your desire to fight your case. If you are independently wealthy, don’t need to travel abroad, or are about to leave America for good, and return to your homeland, you likely can put a DUI on your criminal record.

  1. Can attorney fees be paid in monthly payments?

Most of the top-rated law firms offer some sort of legal fee payment plan. Once you are determined to fight your DUI, then ask this question at your free lawyer consultation.

  1. What happens on DUI charges first offense?

Without doubt, having no prior impaired driving criminal history gives first offenders their best opportunity for a reduction of charges to a lesser offense. The best attorneys in Atlanta can usually keep you from having to come to court too often. Our law office has clients sign a power of attorney that lets our criminal attorneys go and our clients stay at work.

  1. DUI First Offense Jail Time

First DUI offense jail time is 24 hours in most cases, including those who plead guilty or nolo contendere. With rare exceptions, a judge will want that time to be served behind bars. Since over 95% of all citizens facing a DUI GA are arrested, the initial time in custody is counted toward your total incarceration time.

  1. First offense DUI laws

This question is best answered by reviewing a DUI and BAC chart created by the author. The area in pink pertains to DUI first offense cases.

DUI BAC Chart

  1. What are the first offense DUI consequences for a minor?

In Georgia, the penalties shown in pink relating to criminal consequences apply, except the driver under age 21 is held to a 0.02 grams percent BAC level or is otherwise over the legal limit. Plus, a DUI conviction suspends his or her right to drive for 12 full months, with no restricted permit.

  1. How to get out of a DUI first offense

Three important factors control your chances to win your DUI 1st offense:

Those whose behavior is normal and polite have a better shot at a reduction, but who know their legal rights and exercise those rights to not perform field sobriety tests, not answer questions beyond name and address;

Those who request an attorney but then submit to implied consent testing and exercise their right to obtain their own independent testing at a medical facility location in an adjacent county; and

Those who don’t settle for an average lawyer or good attorney, but insist of hiring only highly-credentialed, experienced DUI attorneys near me.

  1. Is community service mandatory if convicted of driving under the influence in GA?

Yes, it is. The number of minimum hours jumps from 40 hour to 240 hours for a 1st DUI and 2nd DUI in GA, and to 480 hours for a fourth DUI felony in Georgia.

  1. DUI License Suspension: What happens for your first DUI offense?

As stated under the implied consent section set forth above, an interlock restricted license may be available for the administrative aspect of your case. A criminal conviction suspends, too, but credit for any time under suspension for the administrative suspension gets credited.
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  1. How can a DUI first offense affect a person’s career and future options?

This is the theme of this page. Specific examples would take an encyclopedia to fill, but each person’s life would be negatively impacted for years, or decades after conviction.

  1. In GA, is a first offense DUI a felony?

Outside a DUI-related death or serious bodily injury felony, a 4th DUI in 10 years constitutes a felony. felony charges

  1. Average cost of a 1st offense DUI in GA

Fines, surcharges, DUI school, reinstatement fees, professional counseling and assessments and sessions, increased DUI car insurance costs will typically run between $4000 and $9000 in the flowing 3 years, depending on the case. The biggest costs will come on career denials or promotions or job availability. For those who fight the charges, legal fees for the best lawyers routinely exceed $10,000, due to expert witness costs.

  1. If I refused the chemical test offered under implied consent, does this help me get a lesser charge?

Not necessarily. With over 1000 different courts and over 25000 different prosecutors, different court locations may have a total ban on reductions for those who have refused the implied consent test.

  1. What to do if accused of a DUI controlled substance combination alcohol drugs 1st offense

Because a first offense DUI-drugs takes away all driving privileges for 6 months, these cases must be fought. Creative attorneys sometimes can find solutions to the no-driving prohibition in a generic DUI can be negotiated, and not a violation of OCGA 40-6-391 (a)(2), or (a)(4) or (a)(6).

  1. What is the punishment for first time DUI?

See Number 6 above and get further information from this DUI Georgia 1st offense page.

  1. Do I really need a lawyer for a first-time DUI charge?

Yes, 100%. Once you act without an attorney, your fate is sealed and nearly impossible to undo.

  1. The most successful defenses for a 1st time offender case

In all our cases, the most successful tactics is to use an implied consent law violation to obtain an edge, when a breath test, blood alcohol test or DUI refusal is excluded from evidence. Plus, using our lawyers’ advanced training on field sobriety testing to neutralize the arresting officer’s claims.

Atlanta DUI Lawyer Cory Yager is shown below:

  1. Will I get jail time for a first DUI?

Yes, if convicted of DUI. If you stay in jail for a substantial period of time on the night of arrest, your additional time imposed to serve after sentence may not have to be served. Conversely, in most cases where a reduction from the DUI charge occurs, jail time is not usually mandated.

  1. Will the State of Georgia report a DUI conviction to my state, if have a driver license from another jurisdiction?

Yes, since federal laws mandate this being done, to identify problem drivers.

  1. Should I limit my search to a DUI attorney near me, or seek the very best criminal defense lawyer?

That depends on where you live, and whether a local DUI lawyer has built a reputation for winning intoxicated driving cases. Two of our three partners travel statewide to fight for those citizens who positively must try to win. Or, if we can help a client by referring your case to a local DUI attorney in our network, our law group can do that.

Calling Law Firms Near Me for Legal Representation

Proximity to a lawyer’s office is NOT the way to hire. You want to check out legal credentials, experience level, and number of cases handled at trial and in getting a DUI reduced to reckless driving or dismissed.

Our law group gets most of our clients from referrals by prior DUI or other criminal case clients. Because we provide a FREE consultation, what do you have to lose by calling us now, 24 hours a day? 404-567-5515.

Helpful Additional Links:

BAC chart: BAC Calculator for Blood Alcohol Level Chart

Maine OUI lawyer in southern part of Pine Tree State

California DUI lawyer for southern half of the State

Michigan OWI lawyer

Learn about a DWI first offense in NC

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