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Georgia DUI Laws Explained

Award-Winning Georgia DUI Lawyer and Ex-Police Officer Cory Yager and Board-Certified Georgia DUI Attorney Bubba Head Discuss GA DUI Laws

Best Georgia DUI Lawyers Bubba Head, Cory Yager

Georgia DUI laws are ranked among America’s toughest on DUI penalties and long-term DUI consequences. This ranking is largely due to the lack of applicability of the Georgia first offender act to driving under the influence cases. Plus, no diversion, conditional discharge, or other “1st offender” provisions, nor the ability to expunge a drunk driving conviction, are part of Georgia drunk driving laws. Also, drivers under the age of 21 must deal with State of Georgia DUI laws zero-tolerance.

Like most USA jurisdictions, an automatic license suspension accompanies any conviction on DUI charges in GA. Any conviction under DUI laws in Georgia means that you take that conviction to the grave, and often results in the loss of the person’s Georgia license or an out-of-state driver’s ability to drive in Georgia, subject to certain limited permit rules.

Some callers to our Atlanta DUI office are concerned about DUI fines in Georgia. However, that small financial price is a pittance compared to the permanent criminal record and driver license impact for even a 1st DUI in GA. This page contains two descriptions of DUI penalties that further explain the punitive nature of a GA DUI conviction.

GA Drunk Driving Laws

This page provides an overview of the different types of DUI in GA, and the distinction between a DUI per se case and a DUI “less safe” case (the common descriptive names given to any impaired driving cases in Georgia). The alcohol limit in GA (adults) is 0.08 grams percent. To simplify terminology, “per se” connotes “over the legal limit,” as revealed by any post-arrest forensic testing of blood or breath which is done at any time within three hours after your driving ended.

A DUI less safe charge allows for conviction from evidence from a law enforcement officer that it was “less safe for the person to drive,” whether from alcohol, while impaired or under the influence of any drug to the extent of impairment, or from a toxic vapor, an aerosol, or by marijuana. When it comes to DUI drugs Georgia, the Georgia Supreme Court has stated the legal burden to be “rendered incapable of driving safely.”

Georgia DUI Laws: What Happens When You Get a DUI in Georgia?

The Georgia DUI law is found in O.C.G.A. 40-6-391. Below is an infographic that covers not just a first offense DUI, but all levels of DUI punishment for felony or misdemeanor DUI in Georgia. It was created for a tri-fold flyer distributed to all judges who preside over DUI courts in Georgia, by Georgia’s leading DUI attorney, and Partner of Cory Yager, William C. “Bubba” Head. This image is just ONE page of that six-image infographic flyer:

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence Georgia

Being charged with DUI is NOT a conviction! While our Atlanta DUI attorneys focus on NOT allowing you to get convicted of DUI, people always ask us about the penalties if convicted. Adult drivers can get a certificate of first conviction and obtain a “work permit” (temporary driver’s license) on a DUI-alcohol case the same day as their DUI conviction, but a DUI-drugs offender cannot drive at all for six months on a 1st DUI in GA.

Any DUI lawyer from our law office routinely hears from people who either lost at trial or pleaded guilty to DUI in GA many years ago yet are having employment opportunities denied to them. Some have lost benefits or opportunities due to 1st time DUI charges that led to a conviction. All have had their DUI car insurance canceled or sent to a substandard insurance carrier with higher premiums, lower liability limits, and restricted coverage (SR-22).

Georgia DUI Penalties and Consequences for a FIRST Offense DUI Within Ten (10) Years

[NOTE FOR ALL DUI OFFENSES: Georgia’s laws for DUI on the criminal case have a 10-year lookback period (between dates of ARREST, not between CONVICTION dates) to control this time calculation. Our state laws for calculating the loss of driver’s license or the privilege to drive in Georgia are measured on a 5-year lookback period, also the loss of license or the right to drive in Georgia (for those who are licensed in other jurisdictions who become REPEAT offenders) are stacked end-to-end, so that being eligible for regaining driving privileges in Georgia becomes pushed far out into the future.]

GA 1st Offense DUI Consequences

The DUI statute contained in O.C.G.A. 40-6-391 mandates these categories of 1st DUI punishment and mandatory minimum penalties that cannot be waived (for each category):

  • Jail of 24 hours or more, if the chemical test (BAC) is 0.08 grams percent or more;
  • $300 to $1,000 fine on a Georgia law DUI first offense, but surcharges typically double the fine amount;
  • Completion of a 20-hour DUI defensive driving course called “Risk Reduction”;
  • On a DUI in Georgia first offense, expect at least 40 hours of community service on a first DUI conviction (within the past ten years, based on dates of arrest); and
  • Probation of 12 months in jail, minus any days served in jail following your DUI arrest.

Georgia DUI Penalties and Consequences for a SECOND Offense DUI Within Ten (10) Years

2nd Driving Under the Influence Penalties Georgia

Minimum Mandatory Penalties under State of Georgia law for a 2nd DUI in GA:

O.C.G.A. 40-6-391 mandates these categories of 2nd DUI punishment and mandatory minimum (for each category):

  • Jail time of 90 days to 12 months, all incarceration (72 hours of which may be suspended or probated);
  • $600 to $1,000 fine, but surcharges typically double the fine amount;
  • Completion of the “Risk Reduction” course (which will be needed for license reinstatement);
  • Alcohol and drug assessment, and treatment as recommended (usually 17 weeks or more)
  • At least 30 days of community service (240 hours or more) on a second DUI case;
  • Probation of 12 months in jail, minus any days served in jail following your DUI arrest;
  • Photo publication and summary of the case disposition in the legal organ (newspaper) of the County at the offender’s expense; and
  • Tag surrender at time of the plea (must be done within ten days after the plea)

DUI Conviction Notice GA

Third Offense DUI in GA Within Ten (10) Years (Will Be a High and Aggravated Misdemeanor)

For a 3rd DUI in GA, the phrase “high and aggravated” is a special Georgia punishment statute that alters the traditional “good time” credit that jails typically permit in Georgia. Such H&A offenses preclude giving more than four days of such “credit” per 30 days of the sentence. So, a 120-day jail sentence means that a 3rd DUI offender serves 104 days at a minimum.

Minimum Mandatory Penalties under State of Georgia law for a 3rd offense DUI:

  • Fine amount will be $1,000-$5,000 plus statutory surcharges that can double the fine amount.
  • Jail 120 days to 12 months, all but 15 days of which may be suspended, stayed or probated.
  • Community Service hours are the same as for a DUI 2nd offense: 30 days of community service (240 hours).
  • Completion of the “Risk Reduction” course (which will be needed for driver’s license reinstatement);
  • Photo publication and summary of the DUI case disposition in the legal organ (newspaper) of the County at the DUI offender’s expense.
  • If not enrolled and participating in a DUI court program, court-ordered drug and alcohol assessment, and treatment as recommended. A clinical evaluation will be ordered, and possible ignition interlock installed on one vehicle when and if the driver qualifies to drive on a probationary license within five years.
  • Driver’s license revoked, with the earliest availability of any type of limited driving privileges after 24 months, for any 3rd DUI, fourth DUI, or subsequent conviction. Georgia does not have a statute (like West Virginia on a third DUI conviction within five years, or Florida for a 4th DUI in ten years, and Michigan for a 3rd DUI lifetime) for permanent loss of the ability to get a future license.
  • Tag must be surrendered at the time of the plea (or must be done within ten days after the plea, at the latest).

Georgia Driver's License Suspension 2nd Drunk Driving

Fourth Offense DUI (Felony) Within Ten Years

Minimum Mandatory Penalties under State of Georgia law for a 4th DUI in Georgia:

  • Fine amount will be $1,000-$5,000 plus statutory surcharges that can double the fine amount.
  • State prison time of one to five years, all but 90 days of which may be suspended, stayed, or probated.
  • Community Service hours are increased to 60 days of community service (480 hours), but when a state prison term of three years or longer is imposed, the Judge can suspend all or part of these hours.
  • Mugshot photo and summary of the DUI felony case disposition will be published in the legal organ (newspaper) of the County, at the DUI offender’s expense.
  • If not enrolled and participating in a DUI court program, court-ordered drug and alcohol assessment, and treatment as recommended. A clinical evaluation will be ordered, and possible ignition interlock installed on one vehicle when and if the driver qualifies to drive on a probationary license within five years. Completing the “Risk Reduction” course is still required if this scofflaw ever plans to seek his or her driver’s license reinstatement;
  • Driver’s license revoked, with the earliest availability of any type of limited driving privileges after 24 months for any 3rd DUI, fourth DUI, or subsequent conviction. (See bracketed information above that calls for every new suspension or revocation to be stacked into consecutive loss of driving privileges.) Georgia does not have a statute (like Florida for a 4th DUI in ten years or Michigan for a 3rd DUI lifetime) for permanent loss of the ability to get a future license.
  • Tag must be surrendered at the time of the plea (or must be done within ten days after the plea, at the latest).

Consequences for Driving Under the Influence GA

Georgia DUI Law: Implied Consent

Georgia Code 40-6-391 is the primary DUI law in GA. Other statutes supplement and augment various related laws for intoxicated driving, such as O.C.G.A. 40-5-55, 40-5-67.1, 40-5-64.1 and 40-5-67.2. A Georgia DUI blood test law that was enacted in 2006, permits an officer who has been told “no” to a breath or blood test to apply to a magistrate judge for a search warrant and get a forcible blood sample.

The new Georgia implied consent law notice is contained in 40-5-67.1. See this State of Georgia government link for other Georgia DUI laws.

What Are the Penalties for DUI in Georgia?

The foregoing pages are merely STATING the facts, under Georgia drinking and driving laws. However, seeing that the consequences of being convicted of violating the drinking and driving laws in Georgia are so harsh, this amplifies the importance of hiring a DUI expert lawyer.

Here is a quick chart that shows Georgia DUI penalties:

PUNISHMENT
CATEGORY
FIRST OFFENSE DUISECOND OFFENSE DUITHIRD DUI OFFENSEFOURTH DUI OFFENSE
DUI Fines in GA$300 - $1,000$600 - $1,000$1,000 - $5,000$,2500 - $5,000
Added GA SurchargesDOUBLE or MORE FINEDOUBLE or MORE FINEDOUBLE or MORE FINEDOUBLE or MORE FINE
Community Service40 hours240 hours240 hours480 hours
Jail Time Minimum24 hours172 hours15 days90 days
Jail Time Maximum12 months12 months12 months5 years
Limited Permit Available12 monthsNONONO
License Suspension12 months36 months5-year revocationSame as 3rd DUI
Early ReinstatementYes, if over 21 & GA licenseeYes, if over 21 & GA licenseeYes, if over 21 & GA licenseeSame as 3rd DUI
IID - Interlock MandatedNOIf early reinstate, YES4After 24 months, if qualifySame as 3rd DUI
DUI School or ClassesYES2YESYESYES
A & D EvaluationYESYESYESYES
Clinical EvaluationUsuallyYESYESYES
Mandatory Probation12 months312 months5 yearsSame as 3rd DUI
Mugshot PublicationNOYESYESYES
ALL Tags SurrenderedNOYESYESYES

Until convicted, no permanent criminal record for conviction of a drunk driving offense exists. A DUI attorney knows that raising legal challenges to the evidence and having court rulings on the record are crucial to fighting a DUI successfully. Avoiding conviction for a DUI in Georgia is the objective, so do not trust that difficult task to just any DUI lawyers near me.

Even the arrest record on pending charges for first offense driving under the influence GA can pose a significant problem for some high-security employment sectors. Plus, having a prior DUI conviction creates unexpected barriers to employment, especially in a major metropolitan city like Atlanta, Georgia. Since DUI penalties for drunk driving convictions in Georgia can last forever, hiring the right DUI specialist is critical for the person to be able to drive, if accused of the motor vehicle crime of being less safe.

For a first-time conviction for DUI, you could run into problems and loss of entitlement to prospective business deals or personal opportunities for many years, if not for LIFE. When it comes to DUI-drugs, even more issues can arise, such as losing the Georgia Hope Scholarship due to a drug conviction. See Mr. Head’s nationally known list of 97 Consequences of a DUI Conviction.

Call Today for a FREE Lawyer Consultation

Top Rated Georgia Drunk Driving Attorney Larry Kohn

Contact Bubba Head, Cory Yager, or Larry Kohn and tap into our 75 years of collective criminal litigation experience, with most of those cases being for drunk driving or drugged driving. No other law office in Georgia will have three attorneys with better credentials or statistics showing a better percentage of DUI cases being reduced or dismissed.

Our law firm attorneys near me have thousands of true case histories of how our clients were able to avoid these draconian consequences by winning through case dismissal, or getting a DUI reduced to reckless driving or some other disposition (other than for DUI GA). 404-567-5515. Call us 24 hours a day.

Free Consultation GA DUI Lawyers

Additional Questions That Our Award-Winning DUI Attorneys Can Answer for You at the FREE Lawyer Consultation:

  • What is the legal alcohol limit in Georgia?
  • Do any courts permit diversion or conditional discharge on a first offence DUI in Georgia?
  • What is the Georgia zero-tolerance law I see on billboards?
  • Is a DUI a felony in GA?
  • What is the legal alcohol limit in GA?
  • What is the wording of the Georgia DUI statute 40-6-391?
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MAIN LAW OFFICE IN SANDY
SPRINGS, GEORGIA:
5590 Roswell Road
Suite 210
Sandy Springs, GA 30342
(404) 567-5515
DOWNTOWN ATLANTA GA
LOCATION:
235 Peachtree Street NE
Suite 400
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 567-5515
MARIETTA, GA LOCATION
in Cobb County, GA:
109 Anderson Street
Suite 103
Marietta, GA 30060
(770) 629-8620
ALPHARETTA-ROSWELL-MILTON
LOCATION
in North Fulton County, GA:
1001 Cambridge Square
Suite B
Alpharetta, GA 30009
(770) 629-9614