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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GEORGIA DUI LAW
Here at Law Offices of Sean R. Whitworth, we understand that DUI charges in Georgia are very serious, because we know just about everything there is to know about Georgia DUI law. Many Atlanta drivers are forced to commute daily and though many Cities and Counties are very close, they aren’t close enough after having as little as two beers. As a Marietta and Atlanta-based attorney, it’s clear to me how many professionals are subjected to the commute. Occasional meetings after work that include alcohol are common, but can still have serious consequences. We urge you to call family members or friends when you’re faced with a commute but are no longer sober.
GEORGIA DUI LAW
In Georgia, the charge of DUI is taken very seriously and there can often be serious penalties if not approached properly. The prosecution of DUI charges in Georgia is not difficult for the district attorney or solicitor’s office. The laws and requirements of drivers are written and applied in such a way that the state has an inherent advantage when dealing with an individual facing DUI prosecution. Because of the implied harm to other drivers as well as the alleged DUI driver the arresting officer has been given a great deal of discretion and ability through their observations to dictate the arrest, the potential loss of driving privileges and eventually the prosecution of the matter. It is essential that you receive honest and forthright advice from legal counsel on Georgia DUI law, as it will determine how much you spend on legal representation and the best path to receive a favorable outcome in light of the evidence garnered by the state.
In Georgia, there are two types of DUI charges available to the arresting officer. The first one is a per se violation of DUI, which means there is valid blood alcohol evidence of impaired driving. The second is DUI less safe and does not require the level of impairment required by DUI per se but relies heavily on the first-hand observations of the arresting officer. These are aspects of Georgia DUI law that you need to be familiar with.
This DUI is the most difficult to defend and the easiest for the state to prosecute. When you are stopped for an alleged violation of driving under the influence the officer will eventually offer you the opportunity to take a breath, urine or blood test. There is a great deal of information regarding the benefit of refusing this test as well as the benefit of cooperating with this test. Obviously, if you have not been drinking and if you were stopped for a simple moving violation then it will benefit you to take the test. You will pass and there will be no issue; however, if you have been drinking and if you fail the test, the state has substantial evidence against you in their prosecution. The prosecutor must show that the reading was accurate, which is not a difficult burden in most situations. In short, if you take and fail the test you make your defense much more difficult, and you will fail if your blood alcohol readings are the following:
As you can see it does not take a great deal to fail this test and if you are under 21 any consumption whatsoever will cause a failure and if prosecuted there is a mandatory one-year suspension of your license. In addition to deciding the benefit of refusing this test, it is important to know that the state created legislation to penalize alleged DUI drivers for this refusal.
In Georgia, if you refuse to cooperate in the administration of the breath, urine or blood test you will face a mandatory suspension of your license for a period of one year, which is administered through the required DMV administrative hearing addressed below.
This charge essentially means that based on the arresting officer’s observations it was determined that the driver was less safe to drive because of the use of alcohol, drugs or prescription drugs than they would have been had they not been under the influence of these substances. The officer on the scene has a great deal of discretion in this arrest and charge. They usually will observe you driving for some time and if there is excessive swaying in or out of your lane, prolonged stops at turns or lights, failure to signal or general erratic driving they will pull you over. At this time they are preparing the case. They are going to smell your person and vehicle for any scent of alcohol or marijuana use. They are going to observe your speech patterns and eye movements. They will eventually as you to perform some standardized field sobriety tests that frankly are difficult for sober individuals to perform. They will ask you to agree to the breathalyzer and if refused they will base their arrest on your performance on these tests. In essence, if the officer is convinced you are driving under the influence he/she has broad authority under DUI less safe to make the arrest.
An arrest for DUI less safe is easier to defend as the state is relying on the testimony of the officer and any evidence produced on the scene to include video surveillance. The prosecution must rely on these observations and if the officer failed to administer field tests properly or the video does not corroborate what the officer alleges the case becomes more difficult for the state. In essence, if you are driving properly and appear stable in the video prosecution becomes more difficult regardless or the testimony of the officer. In essence, the less evidence given to the state at the scene of the arrest makes prosecution more difficult.
Georgia DUI law is strict, which is something you need to know upfront. In Georgia, the penalty for a DUI depends on the number of DUI’s received and the time in which those DUI’s were received. If you have multiple arrests for DUI within a period of 5 years the penalties sought by the state will be significant and will include jail time.
DUI is a misdemeanor offense in Georgia unless you have multiple offenses in a condensed period at which time you may face felony charges. The first time you are arrested for DUI and if there are no accidents involving injuries or other charges the state can seek up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine with community service, MADD panel, as well as drug and alcohol evaluations and treatment. The usual penalty for the first DUI is 24 hours incarceration and the remainder on probation. If there are other DUI convictions the request by the state will involve more jail time, more aggressive fines and community service and loss of license.
Remember the court has discretion on the implementation of these penalties and based on the severity of the offense and the number of offenses the penalties can and will get worse. In addition, there will be no court penalties, such as the loss of insurance or increased premiums.
After being arrested for DUI you will be given a form 1205 which is your temporary license as the arresting officer will usually confiscate your driving license. This form will give you instructions regarding your license. An essential instruction is that you have 10 days from the date of the citation to request a DMV administrative hearing to preserve your driving privileges during the pendency of your DUI. This hearing must be requested in writing and there will be a fee of $150.00, which must be submitted with this request. The arresting officer has a great deal of influence at this hearing and it is important that you not only request the hearing but have an attorney present.
After the DMV administrative process, you will still need to deal with the criminal court and the eventual result. For the first DUI you will lose your license for one year; however, if you cooperated with the blood alcohol tests and are over 21, you are eligible to receive a limited driving permit and early reinstatement after 120 days after completing DUI school. If the DUI conviction was for drug use you are not eligible for reinstatement for 6 months after completing DUI school.
In the end, the best defense against a DUI in Georgia is not to get one at all, partially for safety reasons and partially because Georgia DUI law is so strict. I strongly recommend that you use UBER or Saferide when drinking. Safe Car Ride is available in Atlanta and surrounding cities.
If you were unfortunate enough to get a DUI, please schedule a consultation today to talk about Georgia DUI law.