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Georgia DUI Penalties

Because driving under the influence puts lives at risk, it is considered a serious offense and can carry severe penalties. If you are arrested on charges of DUI, you need a skillful, experienced attorney to represent you. Without one, you open yourself to legal liabilities and the possibility of life-altering penalties. At Carter Pilgrim Stroud, we are fully prepared to provide you with the legal protection you need.

“Less Safe” DUI

In Georgia, you can be charged for driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or inhalants. This offense can be tested or proven in various ways. Most commonly “less safe” DUI is evidenced by high speed driving, sporadic driving, reckless driving or a collision. In such situations, even if the driver’s BAC measures only 0.02 or 0.03 percent (or no BAC at all), it is difficult to prove that alcohol was not a contributory factor.

Arrest and Implied Consent

When you are stopped for suspected DUI, the law enforcement official who arrests you, in addition to observing your speech, movement, and behavior, will give you a field sobriety test to check your horizontal gaze,balance, and ability to follow instructions. In the state of Georgia, under the law of “Implied Consent,” if you are driving a motor vehicle you are considered to have given consent to submit to a chemical test -- breathalyzer, blood test or urine screening -- for the purpose of determining the amount of alcohol or other relevant substances in your blood. If you refuse to submit to such a test, or if your BAC (blood alcohol content) is found to be over the legal limit of 0.08 percent, the police officer is required to start a process known as “Administrative License Suspension” (ALS).

The 30-Day Rule

The state now has a 30-day rule that may result in suspension of your license for 1 year if you do not appeal within the mandated 30 days. This means you may be forbidden to drive even before you have been found guilty of a crime. Obviously, quick action is called for. If you get in touch with our office promptly, our attorneys may be able to extend your driving privileges at least until the date of your hearing. If you do not prevent the suspension, once it has taken effect you will have no recourse. In most cases, exceptions will not be made even in hardship cases involving work or health.

Suspensions After Conviction Penalty

If you are convicted of DUI, your license will be suspended. Having a knowledgeable attorney at your side, however, can make a tremendous difference -- at times the difference between receiving a 120-day suspension with a permit to drive on certain occasions, and a 1-year license suspension without any permit at all. This is why it is crucial to hire a sharp lawyer well-trained in defending you against DUI charges.

DUI Is Not a Simple Charge

It is important to be aware that you can be charged with DUI in Georgia under circumstances you might not expect. You may, for example, be arrested if you are not drunk, but are found to be affected by other substances that have impaired your driving ability. Such substances include: illegal or prescription drugs, over-the-counter painkillers, sleep aids, cold or cough medicines, or inhalants..

Criminal Penalties for DUI

In addition to license suspension, a guilty verdict may, depending on individual circumstances result in:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Public service
  • DUI school or drug abuse treatment and associated costs
  • Increased car insurance rates

There are many variables that may alter the amount of your fine, the length of your incarceration and other penalties.

Typical Sentences for DUI

Commonly, DUI sentences in Georgia are as follows:

1st Offense

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Fine of up to $1,000
  • Fee for license reinstatement
  • Up to 1 year of license suspension
  • Minimum of 40 hours of community service
  • DUI education course and substance abuse treatment with associated costs
  • Victim Impact Panel
  • Alcohol Awareness Course

2nd Offense

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Fine of up to $1,000
  • Surrender of License Plate
  • Publication of your name, address, and photo in local paper which you must pay for
  • Up to 1 years of license suspension and specific limitations and conditions on reinstatement, such as an ignition interlock device to start your car
  • 240 hours of community service
  • Probation
  • DUI education course or substance abuse treatment with associated costs
  • Victim Impact Panel
  • Alcohol Awareness Course

3rd Offense

  • Designation as Habitual Violator
  • Up to one year in jail
  • Fine of $1,000 to $5,000
  • Up to 5 years of license suspension
  • Confiscation of license plate
  • 240 hours of community service
  • DUI education course or substance abuse treatment with associated costs
  • Publication of your name, address, and photo in local newspaper (you must pay for this)
  • Probation
  • DUI education course or substance abuse treatment with associated costs
  • Possible required use of ignition interlock device

4th Offense

  • Offense categorized as a felony
  • 1 to 5 years in state prison
  • Up to $5,000 fine
  • DUI education course or substance abuse treatment with associated costs
  • Publication of your name, address, and photo in local newspaper (you must pay for this)
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • License suspension for a minimum of 5 years
  • Required use of ignition interlock device

Other Factors That Increase Penalties

Besides the number of times you have been arrested for DUI offenses, other factors affect the severity of your punishment, such as your BAC. Also, your punishment is likely to be more severe if you have injured or killed another person while impaired. The law is also harder on commercial drivers who drive while under the influence; for them, the BAC standard is 0.04 percent rather than the 0.08 percent that applies to other drivers. Also, for individuals under 21 years of age, penalties will also be harsher than for the average driver, as explained below.

Zero Tolerance Penalties

Like other states, Georgia is trying hard to prevent underage drinking and driving. To this end, the law discourages young people from drinking any amount of alcohol before getting behind the wheel. State laws reflect this by lowering the BAC limit for those under 21 years of age.

Under Georgia’s policy of Zero Tolerance, a driver convicted of DUI who is 21 years old or younger will automatically have his or her license revoked for a minimum of 6 months and have to pay a fine. More than that, the BAC legal level for a person of this age is 0.02. If the young person has a BAC of 0.08 percent or more, that individual will face adult penalties.

It is essential to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side when a youngster is arrested for DUI since he or she can not only be convicted at a much lower BAC, but faces the possibility of harsh penalties in the present and potential long-term negative consequences. Immediate penalties may include: travel restrictions, ignition interlock, high fees, jail time, community service, probation, and DUI education with attached costs. Future negative consequences may include difficulty involving higher education and/or employment, not to mention heightened insurance costs.

You should also be aware that a conviction for possessing, distributing, or using an illegal controlled substance will also affects your driving privileges.

When DUI Becomes a Felony

Exacerbated Penalties for Felonies Involving DUI

It is, of course, possible to be charged with more than one crime after a single incident. In addition to the legal complications that result if you injure or kill someone, the following will cause your penalties to become more severe:

  • Multiple DUI convictions
  • Having an accident with a school bus while DUI
  • Leaving the scene of a DUI accident (hit and run)
  • DUI with one or more children under the age of 14 in the car
  • Fleeing an officer of the law prior to, or during, a DUI arrest

Child Endangerment

If you operate a motor vehicle with a child under the age of 14 in the car, for each child you will be charged with a count of Child Endangerment.  For each count of Child Endangerment, it will be treated as another offense of DUI.  Hence, if you had two children in the car while DUI, since that would be three DUI offenses, you would immediately be declared a habitual violator for one incident.  A conviction for this offense is likely to have serious, expensive, long-term repercussions. In addition to any imprisonment or fines, the police will notify Child Protective Services and the agency will hold the child or children until a safe and sober guardian (relative or friend) arrives to pick them up. In addition to the agency possibly filing charges against you, you may be at risk of losing custody of your own offspring, or, if you are divorced, of losing visitation rights or having to submit to supervised visitation.

DUI Penalty Attorney Serving Gwinnett & Forsyth County

With so much at stake, you should never take a DUI arrest lightly. Contact Carter Pilgrim Stroud as soon as possible to ensure that you receive help from highly trained legal professionals who will bring clarity and insight to the situation. We are committed to solving your legal predicament in the best way possible.


The Law Office of Carter Pilgrim Stroud is located in Suwanee, GA and serves Gwinnett County, Forsyth County, Cumming, Buford, Lawrenceville, Braselton, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Duluth, Norcross, Hoschton, Jefferson, Commerce, Dawsonville, Gainesville, and other surrounding areas.



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3725 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Rd., Suite A-4, Suwanee, GA 30024
| Phone: 770-284-1319

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© 2015 Carter Pilgrim Stroud, Attorneys at Law | Disclaimer
3725 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Rd., Suite A-4, Suwanee, GA 30024
| Phone: 770-284-1319

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