By: William C. Head, Atlanta DUI Attorney
1. What are the penalties for driving under the influence?
Depending on whether the conviction is both a misdemeanor and a first offense, a second offense, or a felony DUI, Georgia impaired driving laws have minimum mandatory penalties. This GA DUI driving law article explains, in detail, those statutory minimums on both the criminal consequences of a misdemeanor DUI, and the driver’s license suspension implications.
Only 5% of all cases in Georgia are DUI felony cases. Most importantly, a driving under the influence conviction in Georgia will NEVER “age off” your criminal record. Georgia laws have no first offender provisions and no expungement – ever! This is why our Georgia DUI lawyers travel statewide to help accused citizens who face drunk driving charges.
2. What is the DUI license suspension penalty for refusal to take the breath test or blood test?
In Georgia, a person charged with “refusal” to submit to implied consent testing risks total loss of their driver’s license for a full year. Typically, a one-year loss of driving privileges is the penalty for refusing the DUI test (implied consent test). By winning the criminal charge or getting the DUI reduced to reckless driving, we often shorten this license year suspension.
In Georgia, the refusal “suspension” does not allow for a “work” or limited permit, for an administrative license suspension refusal. Fortunately, our law firm is successful in the overwhelming majority of our cases, and we AVOID a TOTAL LOSS of driving privileges at their DUI administrative license suspension hearing for our clients.
3. What is the Georgia Implied Consent Law?
The Georgia Implied Consent Law started out as legal fiction when it was enacted over half a century ago. This driving law states that anyone who drives on Georgia’s roads – by doing so – implicitly gave his or her permission for police to test their blood alcohol or breath alcohol content, if he or she is suspected of drunk driving. Any failure to submit to an implied consent breath test or blood test after a lawful arrest can cost you the right to drive.
Additionally, if you are over the legal “drunk” limit, based upon the DUI breath alcohol test, you may also suffer a DUI license one year suspension. The current Georgia implied consent laws and related GA driving under the influence laws cover both DUI alcohol AND driving under the influence of drugs.
In 2017, the Georgia Legislature will consider changes to the implied consent law in Georgia. This is a result of a recent decision (June 23, 2016) handed down by the United States Supreme Court. The new case of Birchfield v. North Dakota has altered established Georgia law, as interpreted by case decisions in Georgia, to now mandate a driver taking a breath test following a DUI arrest or be subject to an officer applying for a judicial search warrant to obtain blood.
4. What is the ALS 30 day letter?
Like the DUI-DWI laws in most other states, when you are arrested in Georgia, your driver’s license is confiscated by the arresting officer, and you receive a sheet of paper that acts as a temporary driving permit. You MUST file an administrative license appeal within 30 days to avoid an administrative license suspension (ALS) and save your ability to drive.
We can assist you with proper and timely filing of this license suspension appeal. Call our Atlanta DUI law office immediately to protect your legal rights and your ability to drive, while your DUI in Georgia is pending.
5. Will I need to install an ignition interlock device if I am convicted of impaired driving?
An ignition interlock device (IID) is a court-ordered sanction that is part of the driver’s license reinstatement law pertaining to drunk driving repeat offenders, or possibly a condition that is part of your criminal case sentencing.
So far, Georgia has not passed a mandatory “interlock” on a first offense DUI, like Tennessee. A new law has been passed to take effect July 1, 2017, for which a driver who has refused, can install an interlock to avoid the DUI license suspension. Call our Atlanta DUI law firm to find out if an ignition interlock device is your best option.
So, if you are a DUI second offense or third offense DUI offender within a 5-year timeframe (from last date of arrest to next date of arrest), an ignition interlock device will be required if you are convicted of the new driving while intoxicated charge, in the event you are seeking an early reinstatement of your right to drive in Georgia.
6. Will my driver’s license be suspended for a Georgia conviction?
YES. If any drunk driving or drugged driving conviction is reported to the Georgia DDS by the Clerk of Court where your criminal case is pending, your driving privileges will be SUSPENDED IMMEDIATELY. A driver licensed in Georgia who has a first offense DUI-alcohol can get an immediate limited driving permit, assuming that the convicted DUI driver did not lose his or her administrative license suspension (ALS) hearing, based on a refusal of the implied consent testing.
However, a person convicted of any drug offense, including a 1st offense DUI, based on any type of drugs, will lose all driving privileges for at least 6 months. This is why a DUI drugs case in Georgia requires specially trained DUI expert witnesses and a top-rated Georgia DUI attorney.
7. How many alcoholic drinks does it take to be “over the legal limit” in GA?
Because the answer depends on the type of alcoholic beverage consumed, and how many ounces constitute a “standard” drink, more information must be known to determine if the person was driving under the influence (DUI per se).
This question is best answered by use of a blood alcohol calculator that takes into account your food intake before drinking, your gender, your body weight, height, and the number and type of alcoholic drinks you consumed. Multiple variables and individual facts will have a bearing on the final driving under the influence alcohol DUI test reading.
8. If suspected of impaired driving, do I have to take a field sobriety test?
NO. Never take ANY field sobriety tests! Unlike an IQ, SAT, or ACT test, these field sobriety test exercises are not really “tests,” and they are not based upon true scientific principles.
Most critical to any sobriety test being reliable is that:
a) Norms have been established first. This was not done in the government-sponsored studies in 1977 or 1981 in California.
(b) That all extraneous variables be controlled (e.g., orthopedic issues, prescription medications, distractions, weight, and age). Once again, the field sobriety tests were never standardized based on the age and agility of certain young people.
c) That high correlation of results must be repeatable, and this applies whether the same officer does testing, or different officers administer the “standard field sobriety tests” to a DUI suspect. This was an abject failure in 1977, with a 47% false positive result, on drivers who were under the legal limit but were still arrested.
No penalty for declining a field sobriety test will occur!
It is your RIGHT TO REFUSE all sobriety tests. In a nutshell, sobriety testing is a “rigged” game wherein a police officer has you attempt 3 standardized field sobriety tests (HGN eye test, walk and turn, one leg stand), and then GUESSES whether he or she thinks that you are intoxicated. Even when the officer botches the field sobriety test demonstration or instructions, you likely STILL will have to fight this false sobriety test evidence at trial.
Georgia case law from our appellate courts bends over backwards to let this “junk science” be heard by a jury. If your DUI lawyer is not using a DUI expert witness for this aspect of the trial, you will likely lose your DUI trial. Every roadside sobriety test is the same: non-scientific and not reliable!
9. Do I have to take the Georgia breathalyzer test?
People confuse the pre-arrest, handheld, portable breath alcohol test with Georgia’s OFFICIAL breathalyzer (Intoxilyzer 9000). Mr. Head recommends taking ONLY the OFFICIAL DUI test after your arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Then you should demand an independent blood alcohol test at a location and provider that you choose. This independent test can be performed in a nearby county.
Mr. Head recommends NOT taking the roadside, preliminary alcohol breath test, because it is your RIGHT to refuse a portable breath tester, since it is 100% optional and voluntary. In Georgia, these battery-powered alcometers do not have to be regularly inspected, like the Intoxilyzer 9000 device. Additionally, the portable breath alcohol testers in Georgia do not print out the breath alcohol results, so that an evidential test number can be challenged.
10. Will I have to go to jail after I am arrested in GA?
In Georgia, YES, you will be taken to jail in ALL driving while intoxicated cases. A few exceptions exist for DUI accidents where the accused drunken driver is hospitalized, and blood is collected at a hospital and then sent to the GBI. So, posting a quick bail bond and being released from jail is very important.
DO NOT talk to other inmates at the jail! Anything you say can be used against you in court. Once released from jail, immediately write down all details of the 24 hours prior to your intoxicated driving arrest while this information is fresh on your mind. Once you get home, call our law office at 1-888-384-4323 for a FREE consultation, and afterwards get Mr. Head’s FREE book on DUI laws and a FREE DVD that explains all of your legal rights.
IMPORTANT: Ask us about helping you avoid a driver’s license suspension due to the administrative license suspension (ALS) hearing that is triggered in almost every drunk driving arrest in GA. You only have 30 days to file an appeal.
11. Can my Georgia charges for driving while impaired be reduced or dismissed?
The answer to this question is, “It depends.” Most driving under the influence arrests in GA have several potential defenses that can help you win your criminal case. The key steps that any good DUI attorney will take include:
The most important step is to hire a skilled and experienced Georgia driving under the influence attorney to fully investigate all aspects of your criminal charges. Like hiring a skilled surgeon, with years of operating room time under his or her belt, expect to pay more for the best Georgia DUI attorneys because of limited supply and high demand for the most skilled and successful drunk driving lawyers.
12. How do I get my DUI reduced to reckless driving (or other lesser offense)?
The answer here is simple: Hire a top drunk driving attorney and trust him or her to find a non-DUI resolution to your criminal case. Like trying to fly a commercial jet, defending a criminal case in court is not what the average citizen is trained to do. You need to shift the burden of your drunk driving arrest to the shoulders of your criminal defense attorney, and get back to your NORMAL life.
All of our superb-rated lawyers give a FREE case consultation. Once you hire your criminal lawyer, treat this hiring decision in the same manner as you would when hiring a top surgeon.
13. I was stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Georgia. Are police checkpoints legal?
Georgia is one of 38 states that allows the use of DUI checkpoint locations, as long as all “rules” are followed by the police. This means that if no errant driving or other traffic offense was observed to authorize a police pullover, checkpoints in Georgia are NOT legal, unless all prerequisites of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Georgia Constitution are met.
The government (i.e., the prosecution) must carry the burden of proof that all DUI checkpoint guidelines and “purposes” have been properly and meticulously followed. So, the legality of DUI checkpoints depends on the evidence in each DUI arrest.
A pre-trial motion targeted to asking a judge to rule that DUI checkpoints are unconstitutional, filed by your Georgia criminal defense attorney, can end the driving under the influence prosecution if your attorney can prove that police errors were made at a safety check or sobriety checkpoint.
Your criminal attorney will file this motion at or after your first court date, known as an arraignment. The most likely places to encounter a Georgia sobriety checkpoint is in Atlanta (due to all the sporting events and “entertainment” locations), plus other statewide checkpoint locations during special seasons (e.g., Oktoberfest in Helen, GA), any UGA football home game, or during holidays (July 4th, Memorial Day Weekend, Labor Day, or Thanksgiving).
14. How much does a DUI cost?
This is a nebulous and poorly thought out question. If you ask someone, “How much does a professional baseball player earn each year?”, no “one-size-fits-all” answer is possible. A player’s major league experience and prior stellar performance will command top dollar, while an unproven rookie may get the league minimum.
This question is also tricky to answer, because you may be asking about car insurance rate increases in Georgia, or the total financial cost of being convicted of driving under the influence. Or you may only be inquiring about DUI attorney legal fees. The starting point for any “cost of a DUI” analysis is to realize that most attorneys who handle drunk driving cases never go all the way to trial, and simply make their income from entering guilty pleas, where a reduction of the DUI is not offered by the Prosecutor.
A conviction for drunk driving in Georgia will cost you money for the rest of your life, so a total dollar amount cannot be estimated at the time of a plea or conviction. As far as “How much does a DUI attorney cost?”, the answer about lawyer fees will depend on his or her years of experience, case success rate, and whether your defense lawyer has to fight your case ALL THE WAY through trial – and then a possible appeal – if you are found guilty. The baseball player analogy also applies to professional DUI attorneys. Supply and demand for the best in the profession will cost more money.
Going to most trials for a DUI involves expert witness costs and court reporter costs. Plus, any veteran criminal defense attorney will have a trial fee for this extra time at court, on your behalf. For almost every criminal attorney who handles appeals, a separate appellate fee will be required, if an appeal is taken.
So, these categories of potential cost of a DUI need to be discussed. If your DUI lawyer is not a top player, don’t pay him or her a top legal fee.
15. Is there a difference between DUI and DWI?
Either acronym means “drunk driving” or “impaired driving.” Georgia case law (written by appellate judges) uses both DWI and DUI, but “DUI” is the usual acronym in GA and most other states. DUI stands for “driving under the influence.” DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated,” or “driving while impaired.”
A conviction for intoxicated driving or DUI drugs is a heavy burden on your financial future and most selected career paths. Potential employers likely will choose a candidate with a clean record, if two similarly-qualified applicants have applied for an open position.
Prospective employers know that a person with a drinking and driving conviction may pose a higher insurance risk. This knowledge of the applicant’s criminal history can play into a future accident case for an employee driving for a business purpose, and being drunk again.
Call 42-year veteran Atlanta DUI attorney Bubba Head today and get honest answers to all your questions. Tell us everything that happened and everything you remember about your DUI arrest. The sooner you call us, the better chance we have to win your DUI case and get your charges reduced or dismissed.
Remember, you only have 30 DAYS to file a license suspension appeal or apply for an ignition interlock device, or your driver’s license will be suspended for up to one year! Talk to Bubba Head, Larry Kohn, or Cory Yager now. We are available 24 hours a day, weekends, and all major holidays. (404) 567-5515