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DUI in Georgia: Penalties for Violating GA DUI Laws

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

Best Georgia DUI Lawyer Cory Yager

First Offense DUI Laws in Georgia

Many potential clients call our law firm voicing concern about Georgia DUI penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol. While a conviction of a DUI in Georgia first offense carries a reasonable criminal law punishment for a misdemeanor, the resulting license suspension after a conviction on DUI charges can wreak havoc in your life. Any violation of DUI laws in GA is on your criminal record FOR LIFE and cannot be expunged.

Arrested for 1st Offense Drunk Driving GA

The Georgia DUI law is found in O.C.G.A. 40-6-391. Below is an infographic sheet 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 Georgia’s leading DUI Attorney, and Partner of Cory Yager, William C. “Bubba” Head, for a tri-fold flyer which he distributed to judges who preside over DUI courts in Georgia. This image is just ONE sheet (page) of that six-image flyer:

1st DUI Penalties Georgia

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.

Any DUI lawyer from our law office in Atlanta routinely hears from people who either lost at trial or pleaded guilty to first offense DUI in Georgia many years ago yet are having employment opportunities denied to them. Some have lost benefits or opportunities due to alcohol and drug 1st time DUI charges that led to a conviction.

Consequences of First Driving Under the Influence Conviction GA

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.

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

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 of 24 hours or more, if the chemical test is 0.08 grams percent or more;
  • $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.

Georgia License Suspension 1st Drunk Driving

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

GA DUI Drugs First Offense

The Georgia Legislature has opted for GA DUI laws to punish 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. Congress recommended these harsh license consequences during the now-discredited Nixon administration that created a national paranoia about marijuana being the worst of all illegal drugs.

By contrast, a first offense DUI alcohol driver who is not administratively suspended but has a criminal conviction for driving under the influence, over age 21, and licensed to drive in Georgia, can get an immediate first offender affidavit in a DUI-alcohol case (regardless of the BAC levels or if even there was an accident).

The DUI-alcohol driver in Georgia can drive on a limited permit to accommodate work and childcare transportation issues. The same is not true, however, for any Georgia DUI-Drugs conviction, even for a first-lifetime offense and for the tiniest amount of psychoactive THC from marijuana.

Georgia 1st Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Charge

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. No difference exists between prescribed medications, contraband, over-the-counter medicine, cannabis, synthetic compounds created in a lab, or other illegal substances (other than alcohol). 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.

Insofar as other political changes, Republican President Ronald Reagan made the biggest impact on modern DUI enforcement, and Democrat Bill Clinton pushed through lowering the adult BAC to 0.08 grams percent, as the highest for any state. Utah became the first U.S. jurisdiction to pass a 0.05 grams percent DUI statute in 2018.

Employment Opportunities & Job-Related Impact of a GA First Offense DUI

Can I Get a Job With First DUI Offense on Record in GA?

The lack of a DUI first offender program in Georgia for getting a state law record restriction or expunction means that even a 1st offense DUI in GA stays on your criminal record for LIFE. Citizens with substantial assets, chances of promotion, or the need to travel abroad to countries like Canada, may NEED to fight DUI charges.

Similarly, those who work in a business or industry (high-level government security clearance, pharmaceutical sales rep, doctor, dentist, registered nurse, an airline pilot) need to hire the very best DUI attorney in Atlanta.

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

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 piece of paper signifies an administrative license suspension action with DUI refusal of the implied consent “chemical” test or that you took the test and the result exceeded the legal alcohol limit of 0.08 percent. Within 30 days after ARREST, you must ACT to save your right to drive. This may mean that you have to install an ignition interlock device, for having refused your implied consent testing.

Plus, people must perform other routine duties like buying groceries, getting to the doctor, etc. Georgia law is very restrictive of what driving privileges are granted for a first DUI offense, and the law is even more restrictive for a second offense DUI within five years. Not only is this constraint true for DUI charges that are for a first offense but is even more restrictive for a 2nd DUI in GA, particularly if within five years of the date of the 1st DUI arrest.

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.

Implied Consent Drunk Driving Laws Georgia

If you face a DUI refusal administrative license suspension for not agreeing to take the requested breath alcohol test under implied consent law, Georgia offers NO hardship license at all, unless you either install a 12-month ignition interlock device or happen to win the administrative hearing. If you opt to fight the pending suspension by appealing and then lose this important GA DDS appeal to the Georgia Department of Driver Services (Georgia DDS), the one-year suspension goes into place. 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

Top GA DUI Attorneys

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.

Free Consultation Georgia Drunk Driving Lawyers

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.

Hgihly Rated GA Attorneys for Driving Under the Influence

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
(770) 629-8620
in North Fulton County, GA:
1001 Cambridge Square
Suite B
Alpharetta, GA 30009
(770) 629-9614