DUI or driving under the influence is considered a serious offense in Georgia. It is so serious that first-time offenders sometimes end up receiving stiff penalties and consequences that impact their futures negatively. There is a variety of factors that determine the penalties for 1st time DUI offenses in Atlanta.
In Georgia, jail time for first-time DUI offenses ranges from 24-hours to over a year of probation. As an offender, you’re also likely to face fines from anywhere between $300 and $1,000 depending on what the presiding judge decides. At the same time, you could find yourself facing up to 40-hours of mandatory community service.
Also, depending on the circumstances surrounding your offense, the judge presiding over your case might order that you complete an alcohol education program. With the help of an Atlanta DUI attorney, you can get these charges reduced or potentially dismissed altogether.
- 1 What Charges am I Facing with a 1st DUI in Georgia?
- 2 Costs and Fines Associated with First DUIs in Georgia
- 3 Why Not Wait for 12-months and Have My Driver’s License Automatically Reinstated?
- 4 DUI-Drug Conviction License Penalties
- 5 What’s the Look Back Period?
- 6 Why Should I Hire a Lawyer for my First DUI?
What Charges am I Facing with a 1st DUI in Georgia?
The one-year probation is a compulsory minimum punishment. If you’ve been sentenced to 24-hours in jail, you will still have to spend the next 11 months and 29 days as a probationer with a high risk of getting locked up should you repeat the offense.
The lack of driving under the influence first-time offender program in Georgia that allows for expunction or a state law record restriction means that a 1st DUI offense in the Atlanta, GA, stays on your criminal record permanently. People who stand a chance of promotion or have substantial assets or that need to travel to other countries might have to fight their DUI charges.
Related: DUI Possible Punishments
As such, people who work in sensitive industries like pharmaceutical sales reps, high-level government security clearance, airline pilots, dentists, doctors, registered nurses, etc. need to hire the services of the best DUI lawyer in Atlanta and have them try and have these charges expunged.
For first-time DUI offenders, one of the most grievous inconveniences most people face is having their driver’s license withheld. If this ruling is made, the court will confiscate your license and surrender it to the State Department of Driver Services office. When that happens, you immediately lose your rights to drive unless, after submitting to the implied contest test, you’re deemed eligible.
In Georgia, police officers can request the Department of Driver Services to suspend your license under Georgia’s implied consent statute should your blood/alcohol test be positive. They can even petition for a suspension of your license if you refused to take a urine, blood, or breath test when stopped for suspected drunk driving.
If your driver’s license has been suspended, the apprehending officer should issue you a DS-1205 form that states why it was suspended. This form serves as both a temporary driving permit and a notice of license suspension. It also notifies you that you have the right to appeal your driver’s license suspension based on Georgia’s Implied Consent Law.
If you wish to proceed, there are two options. You can either request a hearing or agree to have an IID (ignition interlock device) limited driving permit through the State Department of Driver Services. If, after 45-days, you’ve done nothing, then your driver’s license will get suspended.
If you’ve been convicted of a DUI-Drugs offense, you won’t be able to get a limited driving permit, even if it is your first offense. First-time offense DUI-Drug convictions in the city of Atlanta result in a hard suspension of the offender’s driver’s license. A second offense will often lead to their license being suspended for a whole year.
Costs and Fines Associated with First DUIs in Georgia
DUIs are quite expensive, even for first-time offenders with fines ranging from $300 to about $1,000. However, it is worth noting that the amount can more than double once all the required surcharges are factored. At the same time, you are required to attend a DUI Drug or Alcohol Use Risk Reduction Program, a course that takes up to 20-hours to complete and which costs over $350. It is important to keep in mind that attending this course is one of the many requirements you are required to meet to have your driver’s license reinstated by the Department of Driver Services.
Counseling and Community Services
As part of your sentencing, you will also be required to complete 40-hours of community work and participate in clinical evaluation for drug or alcohol dependency. If your clinical evaluator deems that you need treatment, you will be required to attend each of the counseling sessions suggested by the evaluator as part of your sentencing.
Apart from the penalties mentioned above, driving under the influence convictions will negatively-impact your driver’s license. For first-time non-drug-related DUI convictions involving drivers over 21 years of age, the Department of Driver Services suspends the offender’s license for one year. How clean an offender’s driving history is will determine if they are eligible for a limited permit to drive themselves to and from work, the store, their children’s school, and other permitted places.
After 120-days, you, as an offender, can request for the early reinstatement of your driver’s license by submitting the following things to the Department of Driver Services:
- A reinstatement fee of 210 USD or 200 USD if you are requesting your reinstatement through the mail
- The certificate of completion you received after completing a state-accepted Risk Reduction Program
Why Not Wait for 12-months and Have My Driver’s License Automatically Reinstated?
Well, according to Georgia law, if you want to get your license back, you will still have to meet the two requirements mentioned above irrespective of the amount of time that has passed since you were convicted.
It is worth noting that license suspensions that result from convictions are different from what’s known as “administrative license suspensions.” Administrative suspensions can be imposed on you by the Department of Driver Services before you even step in a court in Atlanta for the hearing of your DUI case.
DUI-Drug Conviction License Penalties
If your driving under the influence conviction is drug-related – that is, you are being charged for being under the influence of alcohol and drugs or drugs alone – you face an entirely different set of rules when it comes to the suspension of your license.
DUI license suspensions that are drug-related last for 180-days or six months. With DUI-drug convictions, there’s no option to have your license reinstated before the stipulated time. At the same time, no limited driving permit is allowed for DUI-drug offenders. Nevertheless, the reinstatement requirements – completing the Risk Reduction Program and paying the reinstatement fee – remain the same as those for driving under the influence of alcohol.
What’s the Look Back Period?
In Georgia, the lookback period for repeat offenders is 5-years on the administrative side and 10-years on the criminal side. As such, if you commit a second DUI offense but outside the standard lookback range, your sentencing will be as though you are a first-time DUI offender.
However, if you think that this now means your first DUI no longer matters, think again! Prosecutors in Atlanta don’t like repeat offenders, even if it is outside the standard lookback period. In such an instance, a professional and experienced DUI Attorney can help minimize the impact.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer for my First DUI?
Driving under the influence law in Georgia allows judges and prosecutors to use a great amount of discretion when sentencing offenders. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will use his knowledge of the law, solid knowledge of what’s reasonable, facts specific to the case, and good working relations with the prosecutor to reach a deal (aka, a negotiated plea) agreeable to all parties involved before you spend all of your money on trial. How good your DUI attorney is and how you are represented will play a major role at this stage.
First-time DUIs in Georgia are considered serious offenses. If you are being convicted for driving under the influence and this is your first DUI offense, the advisable thing to do would be to hire the services of the knowledgeable and experienced DUI law firm of Howard & Arca. Give us a call today for professional and dependable legal advice and representation.