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Georgia DUI Penalties: DUI in Georgia First Offense

By: Cory Yager, Ex-Police Officer and Award-Winning DUI Lawyer Near Me for an Atlanta DUI

Georgia DUI Penalties

DUI in Georgia First Offense

Many potential clients call our law firm voicing concern about Georgia DUI penalties and (if convicted) the consequences for driving under the influence of alcohol. A conviction of a DUI in Georgia 1st offense carries a moderate criminal law punishment. However, the lifetime criminal record and resulting license suspension after a conviction on DUI charges can wreak havoc in your life.

DUI in Georgia First Offense

A DUI first offense GA criminal violation will remain on your criminal record FOR LIFE. This is one of the only crimes for which the first offender act is specifically embargoed from being used. Because convictions under GA DUI laws cannot be expunged, including a first offense DUI, our DUI Atlanta law firm stays busy fighting all our clients’ driving under the influence offenses.

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.

This infographic was created by William Head, senior Partner of Cory Yager. William C. “Bubba” Head created and published a tri-fold flyer for judges who preside over DUI courts in Georgia. This image is just ONE sheet (page) of that six-image flyer:

Without doubt, having a prior DUI conviction creates unexpected barriers to employment, especially in a major metropolitan city like Atlanta, Georgia. An arrest record for DUI in Georgia laws can plague you, too. But, by winning the case, a person can limit any damage, because few employers can ignore the fact that you won your case.

However, for some first offense driving under the influence GA cases, the mere arrest record can pose a significant problem. The situations our lawyers in Atlanta have encountered (for DUI penalties in Georgia) have been restricted to some very high-security employment sectors.

DUI penalties for drunk driving convictions in Georgia can last forever. Hiring the right DUI specialist is critical for that person to be able to drive. When accused of the motor vehicle crime of being DUI less safe, your refusal to acquiesce to post-arrest DUI testing can trigger a total license suspension.

Georgia DUI Laws

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

Not only can violating DUI laws Georgia affect your car insurance premiums, but your entire insurance rating (e.g., for life insurance) can be affected. So, the list of DUI penalties Georgia creeps into your pocketbook in many ways, and for many years. By contrast a BUI Georgia has no impact on your GA DDS driving privileges but a conviction for a BUI charge can cost you boating privileges for a full year.

Until convicted, no permanent criminal record for conviction of a drunk driving offense exists. This pertains to alcohol or drugs. 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 if you were unaware that all roadside sobriety tests are NOT scientific and are voluntary, you know it now. Even if you attempted the bogus tests, our criminal lawyers near me can usually assist accused citizens.

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.

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 on a DUI first offense in 5 years can get a certificate of first conviction.

This allows him or her to go to GA DMV and obtain a “work permit” (temporary driver’s license) on a DUI-alcohol case the same day as the DUI conviction. Caution: a DUI-drugs offender cannot drive at all for six (6) months, on a 1st offense gaDUI.

DUI Driver's License Suspension

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

  • Jail time of 24 hours or more, if the chemical test of blood alcohol or breath alcohol is 0.08 grams percent or more;
  • DUI fines in Georgia = $300 to $1000 fine, but surcharges typically double the fine amount;
  • Completion of a 20-hour DUI defensive driving course called “Risk Reduction,” which is our state’s DUI school;
  • Community service of at least 40 hours in a first DUI case;
  • License suspension for 120 days, but some first offenders age 21 and over can get a limited permit immediately; and
  • Probation of 12 months, minus any days served in jail following your DUI arrest.

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.

DUI-Drugs Convictions in Georgia Carry a More Severe Loss of License

DUI Drugs

DUI alcohol and DUI drugs are treated differently in GA. For a first-time conviction for DUI, a person can run into problems. This may include 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. First, a mandatory 6-month loss of all driving privileges is imposed. Plus, you can lose access to education programs like the Georgia Hope Scholarship, due to a DUI-drug conviction.

DUI Marijuana

Congress recommended these harsh license consequences during the now-discredited Nixon administration. Nixon created a national paranoia about marijuana being the worst of all illegal drugs, despite his own advisors showing reports refuting that claim.

The Georgia Legislature punishes a Georgia driver’s license holder who is convicted of driving under the influence of drugs more harshly than one who is intoxicated by alcohol. By contrast, a first offense DUI alcohol driver over age 21, and licensed to drive in Georgia, can get an immediate first offender affidavit. This allows the immediate right to drive in Georgia.

In a DUI-alcohol case (regardless of the BAC levels or if even there was an accident) this person can drive. Two caveats: The person can’t have been administratively suspended before or had criminal conviction for driving under the influence in any jurisdiction within the past 5 years.

Georgia DDS Will Suspend for Drug-Related DUI Charges First Offense

By operation of law, such convictions trigger a total loss of driving privileges for a first offense DUI for six months, or 180 days. This DUI law is not fair, at all. See the next paragraph about a 2nd DUI in Georgia, if drugs are involved.

A 2nd DUI in GA, if convicted of driving under the influence of drugs, brings a lengthy license suspension of three years. DUI laws in GA makes no distinction between prescribed medications, contraband, over-the-counter medicine, cannabis, synthetic compounds created in a lab, or other illegal substances. This harsh total loss of driving privileges is for three years.

Georgia DDS will receive the notice of conviction from any Georgia court. Other state DMV offices will (upon seeing the DUI in GA) update their computers to show that a DUI suspension is in place in the Peach State. Then, that driver will also be suspended in his or her state.

Republican President Ronald Reagan made the biggest impact on modern DUI enforcement. Next is importance, Democrat Bill Clinton pushed through lowering the adult BAC to not higher than 0.08 grams percent. Utah became the first U.S. jurisdiction to pass a 0.05 grams percent DUI statute in 2018.

Most Clients Would Rather Have Jail Time Than Lose Their Driver’s License

DUI 30 Day Suspend

Jail time is feared by most people arrested for DUI in Georgia. But license suspension is the biggest risk for many people facing a DUI charge in Georgia since they must get to and from work and have responsibilities to transport their children.

Regarding the suspension, almost every DUI case in GA involves the arresting officer taking the person’s driver’s license and replacing it with a piece of paper. This form is a driving permit that signifies an administrative license suspension action is underway.

Two type of suspension are possible. A DUI refusal of the implied consent “chemical” test poses the biggest threat. For other Georgia licensees who took the test a less problematic first DUI offense suspension occurs, for drivers age 21 and over. For adult licensees in Georgia, when the results exceeded the legal alcohol limit of 0.08 percent, restricted driving privileges are immediately available.

DUI Law Firm Near Me

Georgia Licensees Only: Within 30 days After ARREST, You Must ACT to Save Your Right to Drive. This may mean that you must install an ignition interlock device for a full 12 months, for having refused your implied consent testing.

Accused citizens need to perform other routine duties like buying groceries or going to the doctor. Georgia law is very restrictive on which driving privileges are granted for a driver convicted of a first DUI offense.

The law is even more restrictive for a second offense DUI within five years. This constraint is true for 1st DUI charges for a first offense. Additionally, our state laws are even more restrictive for a 2nd DUI in GA. If arrested within five years of the date of the first offense DUI arrest, the driver is highly restricted.

With a 2nd DUI in GA within five years, license suspension is severe. Plus, your mugshot and summary of your DUI penalties will be published in the local newspaper. The mandatory clinical evaluation will include at least 17 weeks of sessions with a license Georgia therapist. Thus, a DUI second offense must be fought by a highly trained Georgia DUI lawyer with top attorney ratings.

If you face an administrative license suspension for DUI refusal (not agreeing to take the requested breath alcohol test under implied consent law), Georgia offers NO hardship license at all. Some Georgia drivers may opt to install a 12-month ignition interlock device, but this option is highly risky and cumbersome. win the administrative hearing.

If you opt to fight the pending suspension and lose the appeal, you face a year of not driving. A GA DDS appeal to the Georgia Department of Driver Services (Georgia DDS) could go against you. This creates a one-year suspension.

To read about the changes in Georgia DUI laws and implied consent, review Bubba Head’s 7 Steps to Saving Your Right to Drive.

Call Our Atlanta DUI Lawyers Today for 24-7 Professional Legal Help

Bubba Head Books

Our legal book authors are as well-versed on drunk driving as any Georgia attorneys. For a FREE lawyer consultation, call 404-567-5515 today. Let us help you make the RIGHT decision about fighting your case.

Our new main office location is in north Fulton County, at 5590 Roswell Road, Suite 210, Sandy Springs, GA 30342, about a quarter mile from where Georgia 400 and I-285 intersect. Located just south of I-285 and accessed from Roswell Road, our law office is accessed through the parking deck, within the third level (P3) level.

Our front entrance is sheltered from weather conditions by the Prado P4 parking deck that is directly in front of the Target store. From our office windows, we can see the Lifetime Fitness Center pool. Our entrance is one level down, at P3.

Easy access to Interstate 285 and Georgia 400 makes our office an ideal central location for getting to all Metro Atlanta criminal courts. In less than ten minutes, our lawyers can reach the DeKalb County line, the Cobb County line, and the Gwinnett County line from our law office.


Some of Our Busiest Municipal Courts:

Sandy Springs Municipal Court

Roswell Municipal Court

Atlanta Municipal Court

Marietta Municipal Court

Alpharetta Municipal Court

Athens Municipal Court (Athens-Clarke County Municipal Court)


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5590 Roswell Road
Suite 210
Sandy Springs, GA 30342
(404) 567-5515
235 Peachtree Street NE
Suite 400
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 567-5515
in Cobb County, GA:
109 Anderson Street
Suite 103
Marietta, GA 30060
(888) 274-6288
in North Fulton County, GA:
33 S Main St
Suite 302
Alpharetta, GA 30009
(844) 867-2889