DUI in Georgia First Offense
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If you are charged with a DUI in Georgia as a first offense, you may need legal representation. Contact Philip Kim Law, P.C. to learn your options. Call now!
Author: Philip Kim, Founder, Philip Kim Law, P.C.
Defense lawyer Philip Kim has committed his career to standing up for the accused, and protecting the rights and reputations of his valued clients. If you face criminal charges in Georgia, we can provide you with the skilled, effective defense representation you need.
Published on February 01, 2023.
First DUI Offense in Georgia
Operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or less if you are younger than 21 can result in a DUI arrest in Georgia. After a first DUI arrest, you probably have many questions and may feel scared about what will happen. DUI is taken very seriously in the state of Georgia. Even as a first-time offender, the consequences of a DUI are severe, and if convicted, the offense will show on your background checks and criminal record.
Although a first DUI offense in Georgia is a misdemeanor, that doesn’t mean the consequences are minor. A DUI conviction can result in losing your driver’s license, high insurance rates, and difficulty in finding employment. DUI penalties for a first offense can include jail time, heavy fines, DUI school, probation, and community service. Furthermore, Georgia drunk driving laws require additional stringent terms if the DUI offender refuses chemical testing or has an underage passenger in the vehicle at the time of the DUI violation.
First DUI Offense in Georgia Laws
Georgia DUI laws are rigid and unforgiving. Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or even prescription drugs to the extent that it is less safe for that individual to drive or operate a motor vehicle is forbidden under Georgia DUI law. Drunk driving laws impose mandatory Georgia DUI penalties even for a first-time DUI offense.
Furthermore, the Georgia Implied Consent Law requires drivers to submit to testing if suspected of DUI. That means if a law enforcement officer stops you on suspicion of drugged or drunk driving, you have to submit to chemical testing if requested. Refusal of such tests may result in an automatic one-year license suspension and possible additional criminal charges.
Getting help from experienced criminal defense and DUI lawyers should be at the top of the list if faced with DUI charges in Georgia.
What Are the Penalties for the First DUI Offense in Georgia?
A DUI Georgia conviction results in mandatory penalties. First DUI penalties typically include license suspension lasting up to 12 months and potential jail time ranging between 24 hours and twelve months, depending on the severity of the event.
When it comes to jail time, a judge can suspend the entire sentence except for 24 hours which is mandatory.
Although jail time can be shortened, the probation period of 12 months can’t. Also, if you are convicted of DUI, you will be required to complete a DUI Risk Reduction Program, also called DUI school. A substance abuse evaluation and counseling may also be required.
You will also face a fine of up to $1,000 and may be ordered to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. Bear in mind the penalties can be more lenient for drivers younger than 21 at the time of DUI arrests.
A first conviction for Georgia DUI drugs in 10 years will result in the same penalties. It is important to note that the severity of DUI penalties depends on prior driving offenses. While a few prior minor violations might not make a huge difference, prior DUI convictions within 10 years will be taken into consideration when deciding further sentencing.
Will I Go to Jail?
Most often, DUI offenders spend the night in jail and face a one-year suspension or revocation of their driver’s license. Whether or not you go to jail for longer than one night after a first-offense DUI depends on many factors, such as the judge assigned to your case and the circumstances of the offense.
As a first-time offender, you may face up to a year in prison, although many cases are resolved with mandatory time served and probation. But, the more severe your case, the more likely you will spend time in jail.
Therefore it is vital for anyone charged with DUI in Georgia to acquire legal counsel from an experienced attorney to understand the DUI process and the severity of such a charge.
What Kinds of Fines Will I Face?
The fine for a first-time DUI ranges between $300 and $1,000. This does not include fees for rehabilitation or any court-mandated DUI courses or substance abuse counseling.
How Many Hours of Community Service Is Required for First DUI Offense?
In Georgia, community service is a common penalty for many misdemeanors, including a first DUI offense. The number of community service hours ordered by the court depends on the specifics of each case and can range anywhere from twenty to more than 200 hours.
For example, first-time DUI offenders under 21 at the time of the arrest can face not fewer than 20 community service hours, while others can expect at least 40 hours of community service.
What Will Happen to My License After the First DUI Conviction?
You have to request an administrative license suspension or ALS hearing in Georgia within 30 days of your arrest. Typically, the hearing is scheduled two weeks after the request is filed with the Department of Driver Services Georgia (DDS).
At the hearing, your DUI defense attorney can present your case and explain to the administrative law judge why the state should not revoke your driving privileges as a result of your arrest for DUI. Winning your ALS hearing means you get to keep your driver’s license while your criminal case is being decided.
After a first-time conviction of DUI, Georgia mandates a driver’s license suspension that lasts for a minimum of one year. During the mandatory Georgia driver’s license suspension, an individual cannot drive for any reason or risk much harsher penalties.
However, in some cases, an immediate limited driving permit is possible, as well as getting your license reinstated after 120 days with court permission.
Reinstatement of Driving Privileges After a First-Time DUI
After the completion of the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) imposed probationary period, individuals may apply for reinstatement of their driving privileges. In other words, you may be eligible for early license reinstatement after serving 120 days of your suspension if you complete an alcohol and drug use risk reduction program.
You may also be required to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you own or operate.
You may have to surrender every license plate associated with any vehicle you own to the court. You are also required to pay a reinstatement fee. Also, if the court has assigned DUI school or community service, it has to be completed before a driver’s license can be reinstated.
How to Avoid Your First DUI Offense?
DUI offenses in this state should not be taken lightly and should be fully understood. Not drinking and driving can be an excellent way to avoid being charged for your first DUI in Georgia.
Whenever you are stopped on suspicion of drunk driving, stay calm and cooperative. Be vigilant to whether your legal rights are respected by the arresting officer if you are pulled over based on suspicion of drunk driving.
A successful defense in a DUI case can mean something different to everyone. For example, a first-time offender may seek a charge reduction to reckless driving and thus avoid a DUI conviction.
How Can a DUI Lawyer Help in a First DUI Offense in Georgia?
The DUI conviction remains on the driver’s record for five years. But the conviction stays on your criminal record forever.
Due to the unpopularity of DUI, the Georgia General Assembly has made DUI ineligible for first-offender treatment. In other words, you cannot make a plea bargain for a first offender on a DUI in Georgia. In addition, although the 2nd Chance Act in Georgia allows individuals to petition to remove certain misdemeanor and felony convictions from their criminal records, it doesn’t apply to DUI convictions.
However, visiting a local Gwinnett County DUI lawyer may be an excellent choice to explore first-time offender benefits, such as probation and fines, instead of jail time. Also, it may be possible to get your charges reduced, making the offense less of a burden in life.
For more information on how first offense DUI can impact your life, talk to a criminal defense attorney at Philip Kim Law, P.C.