DUI in Georgia

The state of Georgia takes drinking and driving very seriously. As a result, the percentage of drunk driving related traffic fatalities in Georgia has slowly declined in recent years.

An officer can make an arrest for the following drunk driving offenses:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, any controlled substance, glue, aerosol, toxic vapors, or any combination of these
  • Having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater within three hours of driving
  • If a commercial driver, having a BAC of .04 or greater within three hours of driving
  • If under the age of 21, driving with a BAC of .02 or greater

Court Proceedings

If you are arrested for DUI in Georgia, you may be prosecuted according to one of two theories. In a traditional DUI case the court must prove that the driver was "less safe" as a result of consuming alcohol. This can be pursued even without test results, for example, if you refuse a blood test. This usually involves proving impairment by your driving patterns, behavior, appearance, or sobriety test results. Conviction relies heavily on the arresting officer's judgment. Blood alcohol concentration may also be considered.

Alternatively, if your BAC is found to be .08 percent or higher, you can be convicted of DUI. No other evidence of driving impairment is needed.

Georgia DUI Penalties

Court Fines Potential Jail Time License Suspension
1st Conviction $300-1,000 1-10 days Up to 1 year
2nd Conviction $600-1,000 90 days - 1 year Minimum of 1 year
3rd Conviction $1,000-5,000 15 days mandatory, max varies 5 years

All fines and penalties vary according to the specific circumstance of each case. Anyone facing a DUI charge should consider consulting with an attorney, who can possibly get the fines and penalties reduced to a minimum-and in some cases, have the case dismissed.

Chemical Testing and Implied Consent Laws

Under Georgia state law, any licensed person operating a motor vehicle automatically consents to an approved test (blood, breath, or urine) for the purposes of showing intoxication. Any driver refusing to take an intoxication test is subject to a one year license suspension.

Georgia considers three different standards of blood alcohol content (BAC) when considering charges under "per se" DUI laws. Under per se laws, latin for "by itself", a person can be convicted based solely on their BAC levels determined through chemical testing. A BAC of 0.02 percent is the level for per se intoxication if you're under 21 at the time of arrest. Additionally, you may be accused of driving less safely pending additional evidence. A BAC of 0.04 percent is enough for per se intoxication if you are driving a commercial vehicle. For people age 21 or older driving automobiles, a BAC of 0.08 percent is the level of per se intoxication.

Chemical tests must be administered according to the standards set forth by the Division of Forensic Sciences of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. In addition, blood tests must be carried out by a licensed nurse, doctor, lab technician, emergency medical personnel, or other equally qualified person. A driver accused of a DUI offense has the right to request a second, independent, chemical test at his or her own expense.

Look-Back Periods

Georgia has two "look-back periods" for adding more severe penalties based on the dates of arrest of prior DUIs. For your criminal DUI case, if you were convicted of another DUI within ten years of your current case you will be tried as a repeat offender and face more severe penalties. With respect to your administrative DDS license suspension, the lookback period is five years.

Permanent Record

A trial court judge can legitimately ignore the ten-year look-back period and review your entire record when deciding your punishment; the ten-year look-back only dictates mandatory increases in punishment. Your previous record can also be introduced at trial if the judge believes it demonstrates "evidence of similar transactions"—in other words, a pattern of such offenses.

DMV Administrative Hearing

The DMV administrative hearing is also critical; it may be your only chance to save your driving privilege in Georgia. In addition, it gives your attorney a chance to cross-examine the arresting officer under oath.

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