DUI laws in Georgia under OCGA 40-6-391 have been changed or modified by Georgia lawmakers dozens of times in the last 5 decades. In various places on this website, the abbreviation O.C.G.A. is mentioned, including several times on this page, and means “Official Code of Georgia,” denoting Georgia’s laws.
One of the most radical changes to the laws on DUI in GA occurred in 2008. That year, the Georgia Legislature passed our DUI Georgia felony law, effective July 1, 2008, making a 4th DUI in GA (within any 10-year span) a felony offense.
In 2017, a new law went into effect on July 1st. This new statute (OCGA 40-5-64.1) permitted a person arrested for a first-offense DUI (within the past 5 years) to have the option to install and pay for an ignition interlock device through the Georgia Department of Driver Services, and not face a 12-month loss of all driving privileges.
The GA DUI laws pertaining to implied consent laws have been altered over a dozen times in the last 30 years, too. The next year, no significant GA DUI laws in 2018 were enacted.
Plus, some difference in language about being under the influence of any drug has been interpreted (by the Georgia Supreme Court) to mean “incapable of driving safely.” By contrast, for alcohol-based offenses, the phrase that our courts use is “DUI less safe for the person to drive,” by whatever alcohol the motor vehicle operator consumed.
The latest Georgia DUI law to be altered was enacted in GA DUI laws 2019, and it was (once again) an alteration of the DUI Georgia law on implied consent. In all states, once a driving under the influence arrest is made, the arresting officer is going to give a statutory admonishment that if that driver does not acquiesce to a test of blood breath or urine, the detainee’s license or privilege to drive will be suspended.
DUI alcohol or drug. About 90% of all arrests for a DUI in GA are based upon violating Georgia drinking and driving laws, with the remainder being for DUI drugs in Georgia, toxic vapors or fumes, or DUI marijuana. Plus, the Peach State criminalizes having alcohol and any other impairing drug or substance in your system.
For those facing a court date for DUI Georgia charges, this article explains the DUI penalties and DUI consequences if convicted of DUI in Georgia. Plus, in a related article, Mr. Head answers the 10 most common questions of citizens facing prosecution for America’s most notorious driving crime: being too impaired to drive due to drunken driving or drugged driving.
The complexities of a DUI in Georgia baffle most non-lawyers since the broad sweep of criminalizing impaired driving anywhere in Georgia (even sleeping in your own driveway) seems to be unfair to many. Most will immediately either search for “DUI consequences Georgia,” “drunk driving penalties”, or “DUI penalties.”
The legal alcohol limit in GA for those facing DUI charges is different, depending on (a) the age of the driver, and (b) whether a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is being driven by the suspected drunk driver. The adult (age 21 and over) BAC level is 0.08 grams percent in DUI laws in Georgia, except for an over-21 CDL driver behind the wheel of a CMV, and his or her BAC content is capped at 0.04 grams percent.
Those under the age of twenty-one have a zero-tolerance standard. Yet, the State of Georgia (and most states) use 0.020 grams % as the underage alcohol limit. Other states use 0.01 grams percent or more, and about 12 states have absolute zero (0.00 gr. %) as their standard. Maine OUI laws have this standard.
This variance in zero tolerance laws across the USA comes from the scientific reality that breath alcohol testing devices have a degree of “variability” in their measurements of exhaled human breath. The very low numbers allow for that “lack of agreement” (between two exhalations) by these small variations in the measurements.
A significant change in enforcement of GA DUI Laws 2020. In 2020 and future years, most law enforcement officers in Georgia will be requesting blood tests, and not use the Intoxilyzer 9000, Georgia’s approved forensic breathalyzer test. A February 2019 decision by Georgia’s highest court triggered this massive change.
This change from breath testing to blood extraction was triggered by the Supreme Court of Georgia ruling (in Elliott v. State) that post-arrest use of a person’s body is an “act” that self-incriminates. For a detained citizen to be “required” by a law officer to comply with police directives on producing potentially incriminatory breath alcohol evidence.
Thus, after this statute passed, it altered OCGA 40-5-67.1 for the wording of our State’s implied consent notice. That ruling determined that a person in custody cannot be directed when and how to blow into a breath test device. To do so violates the Georgia Constitution, absent first giving the arrested driver his or her Miranda rights, and allowing for access to a DUI lawyer.
When many DUI arrestees hear about their blood being drawn, they say “no” to the State’s test, possibly triggering a 12-month driver’s license suspension. Declining post-arrest testing leads to being written up as a DUI refusal and puts the driver in Georgia at risk of total license suspension for a year.
Due to federal mandates issued through NHTSA, open alcoholic beverage containers, even if just a broken seal, constitutes the offense of possessing an opened container of alcohol. Even those in a motor home in the front “driving” area are in violation.
The penalty is a minor fine of up to $200 and adding 1 point to your GA DDS demerit points. However, the presence of an open bottle, can or cup can be a negative factor if a jury later hears about this.
Conviction of a First DUI in GA. Immediately, an OCGA suspended license occurs, by operation of law under O.C.G.A. Section 40-5-75. Potential jail time (up to 12 months) with mandatory probation for 12 months, minus any days spent in jail. A fine of up to $1000 plus state surcharges and fees that can double the fine amount, or more.
Performing multiple days of community service, ranging from 40 hours (minimum) on a 1st DUI offense) to 480 hours in total, on a fourth or 5th DUI in Georgia. DUI school is mandatory and being evaluated for alcohol or drug dependence by a licensed alcohol and drugs addiction counselor is also required routinely. Plus, most judges in metro Atlanta want the offender to attend and pay for a “victim impact” panel.
If facing a high and aggravated misdemeanor, such as a conviction for an OCGA DUI 3rd offense in GA within 10 years, any jail time imposed must be served in full, with the maximum “good time” credit being only 4 days of every month. Thus, the Georgia General Assembly has made its opinion and rules for harsh punishment clear for those who re-offend.
Our 3-partner Atlanta DUI team has handled hundreds of cases for repeat offenders and obtained outstanding results. Read about the 8th DUI offender that avoided conviction in a highway accident case in Athens-Clarke County GA. So, why not call today for our law firm to set up a FREE lawyer consultation? 404-567-5515.
Ex-cop Cory Yager, AVVO superstar Larry Kohn, and the author of the page on DUI laws in Georgia are all published legal book authors or co-authors. Why not call the man who wrote the BOOK on GA DUI laws? It is a FREE appointment, so what do you have to lose by contact with our law office?