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Georgia DUI Laws 1st Time Offender | First Offense DUI in Georgia?

By: William “Bubba” Head, Board-Certified DUI Attorney near me in Atlanta GA

Atlanta DUI lawyer Bubba Head

First Offense DUI Laws in Georgia

While a conviction of a first offense DUI in Georgia 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. The Georgia DUI law is found in OCGA 40-6-391.

Driving under the influence in GA

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 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. 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. The DUI statute mandates these categories of 1st DUI punishment and mandatory minimum (for each category):

  • Jail of 24 hours or more, if 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”;
  • Community service of at least 40 hours in a first DUI case; 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 successfully fighting a DUI. 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 driver's license suspension after 1st DUI

How Bad Could It Be to Be Convicted of a DUI in Georgia First Offense?

Under Georgia law for a DUI first offense, the requirements (from a driving while intoxicated conviction) of possibly going 12 months without a license for a DUI refusal, due to the implied consent administrative license suspension, can be highly disruptive and financially painful. Georgia DUI laws call for a one-year suspension and minimum mandatory DUI fines in Georgia, for any driving under the influence conviction.

So, Georgia laws on impaired driving, whether by alcohol, drugs or by noxious vapors (like sniffing glue or other aerosols), call for the offending driver to suffer the loss of license (or the privilege to drive in Georgia, for out-of-state licensees). Georgia drunk driving laws treat any DUI-drugs conviction more severely since the normal limited driving permit for adult drivers with a Georgia driver’s license is unavailable. Read more below.

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

driving under the influence of drugs in GA

The Georgia Legislature has opted for GA DUI laws to punish a Georgia driver license holder who is convicted of driving under the influence of drugs more harshly than one who is intoxicated by alcohol. 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 child care 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.

DUI for marijuana in Atlanta

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. A 2nd DUI in GA, if driving under the influence of drugs prescribed, contraband, over-the-counter, synthetic, cannabis, or other illegal substances (other than alcohol), doubles the minimum total loss of driving privileges to a full year. Georgia DDS will receive the notice of conviction from any Georgia court, which will (upon seeing the DUI) update their GA DDS computers not only to show that a DUI suspension is in place but also to notify any other states of such fact.

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

job loss after drunk driving conviction in Georgia

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, 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.

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 true for DUI charges that are for a first offense but even more restrictive for a 2nd DUI in GA, particularly if within five years of the date of the 1st DUI arrest.

breathalyzer after driving under the influence arrest in GA

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

If you have been arrested for a first offense DUI, you will need to retain one of the best Atlanta DUI lawyers to protect your rights and fight for your case. If you are seeking experience, top lawyer ratings, and an unparalleled track record for beating a DUI, call our law office. Our three legal book authors have a collective criminal law background of over 73 years, encompassing over 10,000 criminal cases in Georgia.

Atlanta criminal defense attorneys free consultation

Call our Georgia Super Lawyers and DUI specialists today at 404-567-5515 and get a FREE lawyer consultation and a FREE PDF copy of Bubba Head’s drunk driving book, written JUST for people facing DUI-alcohol or DUI-drug charges. Ask us about attorney fee payment plans when you come in for your FREE legal advice. Our law firm has 24-hour DUI lawyers for your immediate assistance.

Atlanta drunk driving attorneys Bubba Head, Larry Kohn, Cory Yager

Make the CALL NOW, late or early, and a 24-hour DUI lawyer from our criminal law firm will talk to you. Ask about our law office’s DUI attorney payment plans. Bubba Head, Larry Kohn, and Cory Yager stand READY to talk with you. Our new LOCATION in north Fulton County is EASY to get to and has an entrance sheltered from rain and wind by a parking deck level about us. Read more below.

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.

fulton county drunk driving lawyers

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 10 minutes, our lawyers can reach the DeKalb County line, the Cobb County line, and 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 200
Sandy Springs, GA 30342
235 Peachtree Street NE
Suite 400
Atlanta, GA 30303
in Cobb County, GA:
109 Anderson Street
Suite 103
Marietta, GA 30060
in North Fulton County, GA:
1001 Cambridge Square
Suite B
Alpharetta, GA 30009