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Is a DUI a Felony Offense? Georgia DUI Laws in 2023

Across America, traffic laws differ from state to state. All states distinguish between serious driving offenses (like hit and run GA, DUI-DWI, reckless driving and attempting to elude an officer) and minor traffic violations, such as exceeding the speed limit, failure to yield and running a red light.

This page (on DUI laws in Georgia) focuses on Georgia DUI laws 2023 and after, until and unless new Legislative changes are made. But, for over 95% of those arrested for DUI in Georgia, the crime is a misdemeanor, and not a felony. Yet even a first time DUI offender who causes serious injury or death to another person can be facing 15 years in prison, per death or serious bodily injury (e.g., permanent scarring, loss of a limb, or organic brain damage).

Georgia Super Lawyers for DUI and criminal defense. Our partners have earned over 30 Super Lawyer recognitions, plus the highest Martindale lawyer ratings.

Ranking Georgia DUI laws for their severity. Because some people who drive through Georgia or move to the Peach State from other states and get charged with a red-light violation, stop sign ticket, or a super speeder GA citation misjudge the potential severity of Georgia laws. Georgia drinking and driving laws can haunt a person for life!

Is your license suspended immediately after a DUI arrest in Georgia? Yes, but you can file an administrative appeal or get the 12-month ignition interlock device, if eligible. Don’t GUESS at what needs to be done here. Talk to a qualified DUI lawyer near me.

Beginning in 2023, all three partners will be co-authoring the Georgia DUI Trial Practice Manual, which is now published by Thomson-Reuters.

Is DUI a Felony Georgia Crime? Under Georgia laws, every “moving violation” is a misdemeanor criminal charge. Below, our authors lay out three different DUI case situations where a DUI offense can be bumped up to felony status, from one driving incident.

Read the full Georgia DUI statute under OCGA 40-6-391 here.

Potentially Bad News About the Georgia Criminal Justice System for Some Drivers

Those facing driving under the influence laws in Georgia need to read further for information below about the 11 parts of our state’s DUI penalty Georgia consequences. By virtue of our state having over 1000 different “traffic” courts and a few thousand different judges who could be deciding your fate, getting targeted legal advice for any DUI Georgia first offense case, or any triple digit speeding ticket (going 100 mph or more) or for a hit and run charge is imperative.

Below are images of Bubba Head, Cory Yager (an ex-cop) and award-winning DUI attorney Larry Kohn. Between all three Georgia DUI lawyers shown below, more than 75 separate top legal industry recognitions, accolades or awards have been annually given.

Our three criminal defense attorneys have over 87 collective practice years in the areas of DUI defense and other criminal practice areas.

DUI consequences Georgia. Plus, in addition to hit & run, drunk driving, trying to elude police and several more dangerous driving crimes, your courtroom judge must take away your ability to drive, for some period, but only if convicted. GA DUI laws 2023 are in the top 10 states in America for having the toughest penalties.

A Georgia traffic ticket for any “moving” violation is a misdemeanor criminal charge is NOT a civil law infraction. The least punishment would be a monetary fine, and (with some high speed drivers, called super speeders) Georgia judges are handing out jail time from 2 days to 10 days, or longer.

If the scofflaw caught in Georgia has a bad prior driving record, a judge in Georgia may give that driver a few days to sit in jail to ponder her or his dangerous actions, with the balance of one year being placed on probation. While state law mandates these Georgia DUI consequences, under the OCGA 40-6-391 statute, the same 12 months of jail time or probation also apply to any motor vehicle driving crimes in GA.

11 DUI penalties and consequences in Georgia that are part of every DUI conviction in the State of Georgia

The 11 DUI Penalties and Consequence That Are Part of Every GA DUI Conviction

    1. First and most punitive is the lifetime conviction, that can never be erased or restricted. You take it to your grave!
    2. Jail time, followed by mandatory probation. You may have served enough time following your arrest. Those with a Georgia BAC (blood alcohol content) limit of 0.08 grams percent have to serve 24 hours.
    3. The probation goes for a full 12 months, minus any days where you are given for being jailed after the DUI arrest. The probation mandates monthly supervision fees or around $50 a month.
    4. Fine amounts that have the base fine ranging from $300 to $1000 on a first offense DUI, at the judge’s discretion.
    5. State and county surcharges that will more than double whatever fine amount you paid.
    6. Not fewer than 40 hours of community service to be performed.
    7. Driver’s license suspension. Most Georgia licensees, if over 21 years of age, and not already administratively suspended for their refusal to provide a post-arrest forensic test, can apply for a limited driving permit. For some, who opted for the ignition interlock device option, this cost can run as much as $1800 to $2200. The Georgia zero tolerance law, for those under the age of 21, imposes a total license suspension for a full 12 months. The DUI school 20-hour class is mandatory to ever get your GA license reinstated.

Our Atlanta criminal lawyer teams members cover the entire state of Georgia. Call us first, and (if you cannot afford our fee) we will assist you in finding local legal counsel.

  1. DUI classes will be mandated for this driver to ever regain his or her right to drive in Georgia. It is routine to hear most GA judges will order it as part of your probation conditions.
  2. While a clinical alcohol and drug evaluation is not mandated on 1st offenders, the prevalent rule is that most Georgia judges will mandate this to be done, too, as part of your probation conditions. This is a CYA step that they can point to if you get into a DUI fatality or serious injury wreck later.
  3. No ingestion of any alcohol or drugs that are not prescribed. Because probation can order a random drug and alcohol screening, you can test your luck and gamble on this and see if the roulette wheel lands on your number or not.
  4. While on probation, travel out of the USA will be curtailed or possibly be problematic. For example, Canada does not want you to enter after conviction, unless you go through a legal process to permit a short visit. Traveling out of the USA is not too bad but coming back into America at an airport or border (unless you first secured a travel order from probation or your judge) can be dicey.

Atlanta DUI lawyer William Bubba Head originally self-published The Georgia DUI Trial Practice Manual in 1995. In 2023, his law partners joined as co-authors.

What if My Driving While Intoxicated Is Not a First Offense DUI?

For repeat DUI offenders, the minimum jail time is seventy-two (72) hours in custody on a 2nd DUI in GA within ten years. However, in most Georgia courts, and especially those with a DUI court program or drug court program (in smaller population counties) this is not a realistic expectation. Nor is the minimum 15 days in jail for a 3rd DUI offense within the prior 10 years.

A 4th DUI in GA requires not less than 90 days in custody and 480 hours of community service. To read more detailed information about drinking and driving laws in Georgia, click on one of these links for your level of DUI offense (if occurring with 10 years, based on dates of arrest:

First offense DUI2nd DUI in GA3rd DUI in Georgia4th offense DUI (felony). FYI, since July 1, 2008, the State of Georgia has had a DUI 4th offense felony law. About 5 of every 100 clients at our office are facing a DUI Georgia felony.

A second DUI in GA mandates jail time. On a 2nd DUI conviction in Georgia, 72 hours to 12 months behind bars is the range. For any citizen facing a DUI second offense GA, hiring top-rated DUI defense lawyers is a must, on any 2nd DUI in GA.

When Is a DUI Offense NOT a Misdemeanor?

The best answer to the question “Is a DUI a criminal offense” is usually yes. The exceptions to the general rule of misdemeanor DUI being accused come from these situations:

  1. 4th DUI in Georgia within 10 years = felony, if convicted.
  2. Operating a vehicle with 3 children as passengers and under age 14 = felony with mandatory DUI jail time, if convicted of all 4 DUI charges, even if a DUI first offense Georgia.
  3. Causing serious injury by vehicle to any other person while DUI = felony with mandatory jail time, if convicted, even if no prior DUI convictions.
  4. Causing a death to another person while drunk or stoned is a felony with a state prion or county jail sentence, even if no prior DUI convictions.

GA DUI Sentencing Penalties Infographic Chart created by William C. Head.

Hire a GA Expert DUI Attorney for Misdemeanor DUI or Felony DUI

Drunk driving defense book author William C. “Bubba” Head is an Atlanta DUI lawyer. The UGA Law grad is a 47-year veteran criminal defense attorney Atlanta and NCDD Board-Certified impaired driving defense expert.

His criminal justice law partners, Larry Kohn and Cory Yager, operate a DUI law firm with multiple office locations in Atlanta, Georgia.

So, our law office can assist you (or a loved one) on a first offense DUI, a 2nd DUI in GA, or any other repeat DUI offense. Plus, no other DUI lawyer in Atlanta has handled more vehicular homicide Georgia cases, or serious bodily injury GA cases. Our attorneys in Atlanta can answer all your questions from the meaning of DUI to the many consequences of being convicted.

Ex-police officer Cory Yager, now a criminal defense attorney Atlanta for over 15 years.

So, when you, a close friend, or family member needs the most aggressive, experienced and determined DUI lawyers, contact Larry Kohn, DUI lawyer Atlanta, Cory Yager, or veteran criminal defense advocate William “Bubba” Head.

Mr. Kohn and Mr. Yager were each invited to write chapters for national drunk driving defense books published for other DWI lawyers who are learning how to beat of a DUI. Their chapters were published in 2016.

Learn more about other DUI penalties in general and obtain a FREE lawyer consultation near me today by dialing 404-567-5515. Our criminal attorneys near me will call back 24 hours a day.

Free lawyer consultation for driving under the influence in Atlanta or any other court location across Georgia. Why not start by talking to Georgia's top DUI defense firm?

Every DUI in Georgia is a criminal offense, misdemeanor or felony. Even for first-time DUI offenders, no Georgia statute permits the person charged to utilize diversion, a deferral, conditional discharge, or expunction of a DUI in GA. A fourth DUI within ten (10) years in the State of Georgia will be charged as a felony DUI.

For these reasons, our DUI law firm in Georgia approaches every pending drunk driving case as an opportunity to achieve a DUI dismissal or a reduction of charges to a non-DUI disposition (e.g., DUI reduced to reckless driving).


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5600 Roswell Rd
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