Driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense in Georgia. This article cover's Georgia's DUI laws and the penalties you'll face for a first, second, and third DUI conviction in the state.
Georgia DUI laws prohibit driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle:
A driver who is less safe to drive due to alcohol or drugs is considered "under the influence." A person can also be convicted of a per se DUI with a BAC of .08% or more, regardless of actual impairment.
In Georgia, DUI convictions stay on your record for 10 years. For a first DUI in 10 years, you'll generally be facing a misdemeanor conviction and:
However, some of these penalties might be a little different depending on the specific circumstances.
For a second DUI in 10 years, you'll generally be facing misdemeanor charges and:
Again, penalties might vary somewhat depending on the specific circumstances of the case.
For a third DUI in 10 years, you'll generally be facing misdemeanor charges and:
Drivers who are permanently revoked can apply for a restricted license after three years.
There are lots of scenarios that can elevate a DUI charge to a felony in Georgia.
A fourth OWI conviction is a felony in Georgia but only OWI convictions within the last ten years are considered. Logically, any subsequent DUI convictions within the ten-year period will also be felonies.
A fourth offense OWI carries one to five years in prison, $1,000 to $5,000 in fines, and at least five years of supervised probation. The driver's license will also be suspended for five years but a restricted license is generally available after two years.
A motorist who gets caught driving under the influence for the third time with a minor under the age of 14 in the vehicle can be charged with a felony. A conviction for this offense carries one to five years in prison and at least $10,000 in fines.
A DUI that results in an accident will often lead to felony charges if someone was injured or killed. These charges are separate from the OWI, so a person can be convicted of an OWI and for causing injury or death and face penalties for both convictions.
Injury under the influence. An impaired driver who causes serious injury to another person can be charged with an offense called "injury by vehicle." An OWI that results in brain damage, loss of limb, or serious disfigurement carries one to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. The driver's license will be suspended for three years without the option of a restricted license.
Fatality under the influence. Of course, causing a fatality while under the influence is also a felony. The offense is called "first-degree homicide by vehicle" and will result in three to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. The driver's license will be suspended for three years without the option of a restricted license.
Underage drivers can be cited for an underage DUI for operating a vehicle with a BAC of .02% or more.
For a first offense, there are generally $300 to $1000 in fines, 24 hours to 12 months of jail time, and a minimum of 20 hours of community service. Underage drivers convicted of a per se DUI are required to complete their community service within 60 days of sentencing.
All DUI offenders will be placed on probation for 12 months, less any time served in jail. Before starting probation, a DUI offender must serve at least 24 hours in jail for a first offense, 72 hours in jail for a second offense, and 15 days in jail for a third offense.
All convicted motorists must complete an alcohol and drug clinical evaluation and follow any recommended treatment program. Second-time DUI offenders must also complete a DUI alcohol or drug use risk reduction program.
An impaired driver who was transporting a minor passenger can be charged with a separate offense of child endangerment. A child endangerment conviction will add up to 12 months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines to the normal DUI penalties.
Motorists who are convicted of a second DUI within five years must surrender their driver's license plates and will not get them back until their driver's license is reinstated. On a third or subsequent DUI conviction, the judge will order that the vehicle driven during the offense be forfeited and sold.
Unless the driver had a DUI collision or has a prior DUI within five years, he or she can apply for a hardship license. (Drivers with one prior DUI in the last five years can apply for a hardship license after completing 120 days of their suspension.)
To obtain a hardship license, the driver must be enrolled in treatment or accountability court. The license is effective during the suspension period and requires the use of an ignition interlock device (IID) and is subject to certain restrictions.
All persons who drive in Georgia are considered to have impliedly given their consent to submit to a chemical test of their breath, blood, or urine. A driver who is arrested for a DUI but refuses to submit to a lawful request for a chemical test will be subject to license suspension based on the refusal.
It never hurts to brush up on the law, but there's no substitute for