Overview of DUI inGA : Georgia DUI Laws

This blog page by Georgia DUI lawyers Cory Yager, Larry Kohn, and William Head. This information is posted to provide those charged with a DUI in Georgia with an immediate overview of laws relating to criminal punishments, like jail time, as well as knowing the impact from driver’s license suspension at the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

Law Partners Cory Yager, William "Bubba" Head and Larry Kohn (from left to right). Over 83 years of combined criminal law attorney experience handling DUI in Georgia cases.

By far, a first DUI in Georgia has the most benign punishments and consequences. However, even a 1st DUI in Georgia remains on your criminal history for life.

All DUI offenses have a DUI fine (and heavy surcharge assessments added) in GA. To this financial punishment, mandatory probation is imposed, and cannot be shortened. Almost every DUI case will require DUI jail time, and all mandate community service hours, DUI classes, and possible substance abuse treatment. Georgia DUI laws were amended by the Georgia General Assembly effective July 1, 2008, to add a felony offense for a 4th DUI within 10 years.

In DUI cases in which the arrest was made July 1, 2017, and after, a new ignition interlock device (IID) option exists for Georgia licensees ages 21 and over, who have not had any prior DUI convictions within the past five (5) years, nor have had an adverse administrative license suspension action against their Georgia driver license within that same time frame.

The new Georgia Code section, OCGA 40-5-64.1 allows drivers to opt to install (in one vehicle only) a 12-month IID instead of filing an appeal of the administrative license suspension to the GA Department of Driver Services. Those who install an ignition interlock MUST (within 30 days after their DUI arrest) have the device attached to a motor vehicle and must have obtained and paid for the special interlock-restricted driving permit from DDS GA.

COMMON ACRONYM(S) and descriptive words USED TO DESCRIBE “IMPAIRED DRIVING,” “DRUNK DRIVING,” “INTOXICATED DRIVING”:

  • Driving under the Influence, which is commonly called DUI “Less Safe;”
  • DUI;
  • Driving with an unlawful Alcohol Concentration, which is commonly called “DUI Per Se

Our law office near me answers our phones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. 404-567-5515. FREE consultation on every criminal law case, including DUI arrests in the Peach State.

What Vehicles or Transportation Devices Are Covered?

What is the PROHIBITED VEHICULAR ACTIVITY: Driving or being in actual physical control of a “moving” vehicle. Furthermore, GA DUI laws do not apply to non-motorized vehicles, like bicycles, horses, mules, skateboards, or any other non-motorized transport methods.

In What Geographic Locations Can a DUI Arrest Be Made? 

Georgia has separate Boating under the Influence Laws for watercraft in likes and rivers. The DUI laws in the Peach State do not apply to boats or any motorized crafts on the water. Moreover, no impact to a Georgia driver’s license occurs if convicted of BUI (boating under the influence)

Using the broadest language, DUI laws in GA call for an arrest anywhere in Georgia, including on private property.

No published case in the Federal courts addressing whether our state DUI law will apply to those areas within the exclusive control and jurisdiction of the federal government, but any federal land cases currently are prosecuted in a federal district court using the federal rules of criminal procedure but apply substantive Georgia DUI law.

DUI Offenses: Within O.C.G.A. Section 40-6-391

A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while:

  • (a)(1) Under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;
  • (a)(2) Under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;
  • (a)(3) Under the intentional influence of any glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;
  • (a)(4) Under the combined influence of any two or more of the substances specified in paragraphs (1) through (3) of this subsection to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;
  • (a)(5) The person’s alcohol concentration is 0.08 grams or more at any time within three hours after such driving or being in actual physical control from alcohol consumed before such driving or being in actual physical control ended; or
  • (a)(6) Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this Code section, there is any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance, as defined in Code Section 16-13-21, present in the person’s blood or urine, or both, including the metabolites and derivatives of each or both without regard to whether or not any alcohol is present in the person’s breath or blood.

Plus, these other important provisions under 40 6 391 apply:

  • (i) Driving a commercial motor vehicle, while under the influence of alcohol, with alcohol concentration 0.04 grams or higher;
  • (k) For drivers under the age or 21 years, driving, while under the influence of alcohol, or driving with an alcohol concentration of 0.02 grams or higher.

Degree of Impairment Required

(a)(1) through (a)(4), proof that the driver was “impaired” by alcohol, marijuana, noxious fumes or any combinate of 2 or more of these substances, is required. In addition, under (a)(5)-alcohol, and (a)(6)-marijuana, these statutes cover have a per se amount of alcohol (a)(5) or marijuana or a “controlled substance” in the driver’s blood or urine, such that the motor vehicle operator is “incapable of driving safely.”

DUI Penalties and DUI Consequences for Various GA DUI Offenses

While a first DUI in GA has the mildest, mandatory, minimum DUI punishments and DUI penalties, ANY DUI stays on your record for LIFE. Thus, fighting a DUI case is the only answer for those who must try to win their DUI cases.

First DUI conviction within ten (10) Years: $300 – 1,000 fine plus statutory surcharges and add-ons, 40 hours community service, 12 months of probation, with credit given for any time incarcerated, following the DUI arrest; ten (10) days to 12 months in jail,  all of which may be suspended or probated by the judge, with the exception of 24 hours to serve, if the post-arrest implied consent test registered at 0.08 grams percent or higher; 1-year driver’s license suspension. For those age-21 and older Georgia licensees, with no prior convictions within the prior 5 years (measured by dates of arrest) a work permit can be obtained immediately after a conviction for a DUI in Georgia first offense. A DUI first offense within 5 years is a simple misdemeanor.

This work permit is a 12-month limited permit, but after the first 120 days, the person can show proof of completion of the DUI school (called “risk reduction course” in Georgia and pay the license reinstatement fee to obtain full reinstatement of his or her Georgia license, if no new violations. DUI School. No work permit if convicted of DUI-drugs. O.C.G.A. 40-6-391 (c)(1)(A)-(E)

Second DUI conviction within ten (10) Years: $600 – 1,000 fine, 30 days (240 hours) of community service, 12 months of probation less any actual days of incarceration, 90 days jail all of which may be suspended, etc., except 72 hours; 3-year license suspension with one-year “hard” suspension followed by 6-month Georgia-only work permit with proof of ignition interlock and full reinstatement after work permit if no violations. DUI School followed by “clinical evaluation” for additional alcohol counseling; $25 publication fee for newspaper ad displaying the driver’s mug shot and a summary of the case disposition in the county of driver’s residence. O.C.G.A.  40-6-391 (c)(2)(A)-(F) and (j)(1) and (2). A 2nd DUI offense within 5 years is a simple misdemeanor.

Third DUI conviction within ten (10) Years: $1,000 – 5,000 fine, 30 days (240 hours) of community service, 12 months of probation less any actual days of incarceration, 120 days jail all of which may be suspended, etc., except 15 days; 5-year license revocation with two-year “hard” suspension of ALL driving privileges, followed by three-year Georgia-only work permit with proof of an ignition interlock device being installed. Full GA license reinstatement possible after total of five years if no new violations have occurred during that five-year period. Completion of the Risk Reduction Program (DUI School), followed by proof of completion of all substance conditions and counseling; $25 publication fee for newspaper ad displaying the driver’s mug shot and a summary of the case disposition in the county of driver’s residence. O.C.G.A.  40-6-391 (c)(2)(A)-(F) and (j)(1) and (2). A third DUI within 5 years is a “high and aggravated” misdemeanor, meaning that for every 30 days of jail time given, the convicted DUI driver must serve 26 of those days.

Fourth DUI conviction within ten (10) Years (FELONY): $1,000 – 5,000 fine, 60 days (480 hours) of community service, up to 5 years in state prison or county jail, all but 90 days of which may be suspended, etc., except 15 days; 5-year license revocation with two-year “hard” suspension followed by three-year Georgia-only work permit with proof of ignition interlock. Full reinstatement after total of five years if no violations during that five-year period. DUI School followed by “clinical evaluation” for additional alcohol counseling; $25 publication fee for newspaper ad in the county of driver’s residence. O.C.G.A. 40-6-391 (c)(3)(A)-(F) and (j)(1) and (2).

The Georgia Department of Driver Services, not the courts in Georgia, controls license suspensions.

Statutory Presumptions of Impairment under GA Laws: O.C.G.A. 40-6-392 (b)

b.   Except as provided in subsection (c) of this Code section, upon the trial of any civil or criminal action or proceeding arising out of acts alleged to have been committed by any person in violation of Code Section 40-6-391, the amount of alcohol in the person’s blood at the time alleged, as shown by chemical analysis of the person’s blood, urine, breath, or other bodily substance, may give rise to inferences as follows:

  1. If there was at that time an alcohol concentration of 0.05 grams or less, the trier of fact in its discretion may infer therefrom that the person was not under the influence of alcohol, as prohibited by paragraphs (1) and (4) of subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-391; or
  2. If there was at that time an alcohol concentration in excess of 0.05 grams but less than 0.08 grams, such fact shall not give rise to any inference that the person was or was not under the influence of alcohol, as prohibited by paragraphs (1) and (4) of subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-391, but such fact may be considered by the trier of fact with other competent evidence in determining whether the person was under the influence of alcohol, as prohibited by paragraphs (1) and (4) of subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-391.

Georgia Implied Consent Laws

Tests permitted: blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substance, one or more samples as designated by arresting officer. After the Elliott v. State case in 2019, breath alcohol testing cannot be compelled through the GA implied consent law, but blood or urine can be.

Type of advisement required: “substantial compliance” of reading printed card carried by all officers. The exact wording is O.C.G.A. 40-5-67.1. There are three warnings: under 21 (b)(1), commercial drivers (b)(3) and all other drivers (b)(2).

At the time a chemical test or tests are requested, the arresting officer shall select and read to the person the appropriate implied consent notice from the following:

(1) Implied consent notice for suspects under age 21:

“The State of Georgia has conditioned your privilege to drive upon the highways of this state upon your submission to state administered chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances for the purpose of determining if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you refuse this testing, your Georgia driver’s license, or privilege to drive on the highways of this state will be suspended for a minimum period of one year. Your refusal to submit to blood or urine testing may be offered into evidence against you at trial. If you submit to testing and the results indicate an alcohol concentration of 0.02 grams or more, your Georgia driver’s license or privilege to drive on the highways of this state may be suspended for a minimum period of one year. After first submitting to the requested state tests, you are entitled to additional chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances at your own expense and from qualified personnel of your own choosing. Will you submit to the state administered chemical tests of your (designate which test)?”

(2) Implied consent notice for suspects age 21 or over: “The State of Georgia has conditioned your privilege to drive upon the highways of this state upon your submission to state administered chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances for the purpose of determining if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you refuse this testing, your Georgia driver’s license, or privilege to drive on the highways of this state will be suspended for a minimum period of one year. Your refusal to submit to blood or urine testing may be offered into evidence against you at trial. If you submit to testing and the results indicate an alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams or more, your Georgia driver’s license or privilege to drive on the highways of this state may be suspended for a minimum period of one year. After first submitting to the requested state tests, you are entitled to additional chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances at your own expense and from qualified personnel of your own choosing. Will you submit to the state administered chemical tests of your (designate which test)?”

(3) Implied consent notice for commercial motor vehicle driver suspects: “The State of Georgia has conditioned your privilege to drive upon the highways of this state upon your submission to state administered chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances for the purpose of determining if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you refuse this testing, you will be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for a minimum period of one year. Your refusal to submit to blood or urine testing may be offered into evidence against you at trial. If you submit to testing and the results indicate the presence of any alcohol, you will be issued an out-of-service order and will be prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle for 24 hours. If the results indicate an alcohol concentration of 0.04 grams or more, you will be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for a minimum period of one year. After first submitting to the requested state tests, you are entitled to additional chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances at your own expense and from qualified personnel of your own choosing. Will you submit to the state administered chemical tests of your (designate which test)?”

(d.1) Nothing in this Code section shall be deemed to preclude the acquisition or admission of evidence of a violation of Code Section 40-6-391 if obtained by voluntary consent or a search warrant as authorized by the Constitution or laws of this state or the United States.

O.C.G.A. § 40-5-67.1. Administrative Penalties and License Suspension.

Penalties for refusal: The driver suffers a “hard” administrative driver’s license suspension. At trial, the jury is instructed that it may infer that the test would have shown positive for the prohibited substance.

Admissibility of refusal: Admissible in the criminal trial.

Administrative Per Se law: Immediate license seizure at time of arrest, thirty (30) calendar days to request hearing. 30-day (for a 1st offender), 3-year (for a 2nd DUI within 5 years), 5-year revocation (for a 3rd DUI within 5 years).

So long as driver submits to the post-arrest, Georgia implied consent law forensic test requested by police, the administrative suspension counts towards (and any suspension time is credited against) any potential suspension time that may later be created by a conviction.

All Georgia licensees may have work permits as set forth above. For more information, call today for a FREE lawyer consultation with our three Georgia Super Lawyers. 404-567-5515.

All three DUI attorneys near me have Super lawyers recognition for multiple years. Collectively, our lawyers for DUI near me have over 30 recognitions.