In the state of Georgia, you can get a DUI charge if a law enforcement officer is convinced that your driving ability has been compromised as a result of alcohol and drug use. DUI refers to driving under the influence. There are many types of DUI charges in Atlanta. Regardless, any form of driving under the influence is basically classified as a misdemeanor criminal offense. Therefore, it is crucial to get in touch with an Atlanta DUI defense lawyer at Howard & Arca who is not only an expert at law but will also represent you effectively in court.
In reference to Georgia law, criminal offenses can either be misdemeanors or felonies. In Georgia, a misdemeanor is punishable by a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a $1000 fine. Traffic offenses in Georgia are considered misdemeanor offenses.
- 1 When is a DUI Conviction a Felony in Georgia?
- 2 What Penalties Come with a DUI Conviction in Atlanta?
- 3 What is Georgia’s 10-Year Look-Back Period?
- 4 How Can a DUI Affect my Life Outside of Criminal Charges?
- 5 What are the Federal Property Laws in Regards to a DUI?
- 6 Can I be Charged with a DUI in Georgia if I was on Private Property?
- 7 What is the Difference Between a DUI Less Safe and a DUI Per Se?
- 8 Contact a DUI Lawyer in Atlanta Today
When is a DUI Conviction a Felony in Georgia?
Normally, a DUI conviction in Atlanta falls under misdemeanor offenses. But if this is your fourth or subsequent conviction within a 10 year period, then you can get a felony offense charge. In case you get three convictions after July 1, 2008, in Georgia, then any conviction you get after the third one will be a felony DUI charge. Keep in mind that in Georgia, a felony state is punishable by a jail sentence not less than one year and not exceeding 5 years.
A felony DUI charge is rare, however, it is a potentially serious offense. Consulting an experienced DUI attorney at Howard & Arca is, therefore, essential. Our team at Howard & Arca has extensive experience handling these kinds of cases and making sure that felony DUIs are reduced to misdemeanor offenses.
What Penalties Come with a DUI Conviction in Atlanta?
There are several penalties for driving under the influence and they include license suspension, a fine, community service, and probation. In addition, getting convicted for DUI can significantly affect other aspects of your life, for example, your eligibility for employment and auto insurance rates. For instance, if it is your first time ever getting convicted of a DUI in Georgia, then you can face a fine ranging from $300 to $1000, 40 hours of community service, a jail sentence not exceeding 12 months, and be ordered to undertake a DUI and Risk Reduction course.
Even though a DUI offense will not simply get wiped off your driving record, there is no maximum amount of time within which a prior conviction may be considered to aggravate your current charge. This duration of time is known as the “look-back period.” But there are statutory minimums that apply in a 10-year look-back period. For license suspension purposes, the state of Georgia makes use of a 5-year look-back period, but for mandatory sentencing terms, we make use of a ten-year look-back period.
There are various kinds of penalties that you can face if you are charged with a DUI in Atlanta Municipal Court. When charged with DUI, the penalties that you potentially face will heavily depend on your personal criminal and driving history, and the specific details of your arrest. The list below only provides a general overview of all the potential penalties. You will find more detailed information on each type of penalty in this section.
If you are a resident of the Atlanta area and have been convicted of DUI whether in the state or out-of-state, then you are required to undergo a clinical evaluation to determine whether you have alcohol and/or substance abuse issues. You are also required to complete a substance abuse treatment program (check below for additional information).
Every individual who gets a DUI conviction is expected to do a specific minimum amount of community service hours. Community work entails hours spent performing volunteer or unpaid work at a non-profit organization. However, the organization must agree to take you in as a volunteer mandated by the court for you to complete this requirement. In addition, the organization at which you do the community service must be approved by the court (you don’t have to get case-by-case court approval since there is a long list of local organizations that have already been approved by the court).
Driver’s License Revocation
When your driver’s license gets revoked, you lose your driving privileges until the duration of time specified by the Georgia Department of Driver Services ends – in the case of repeat offenders, this period can be 5 years). When the revocation period comes to an end, you can apply for a fresh driver’s license after you have met all DDS requirements and paid the necessary fees.
Driver’s License Suspension
In case your driver’s license is suspended, you temporarily lose your driving privileges for a certain period of time determined by the Georgia Department of Driver Services. After the suspension period is over, you can apply for a driver’s license after you have satisfied all DDS requirements and paid the necessary fees.
DUI School or Risk Reduction Program
If you reside in the city of Atlanta and have been convicted of DUI whether it is within the state or out-of-state, you will be required to successfully undertake a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program approved by the DDS. This program is also called “DUI school”). It is usually a 20-hour intervention program that is meant for drivers who have been convicted of various infractions.
After the first DUI conviction motorists are ordered to pay fees ranging from $300 to $ 1,000 and increase up to $ 10,000 for multiple convictions as part of a criminal sentence. However, fines are separate from the fees that you will have to pay for other parts of the sentence, for example, the restoration of your driver’s license.
Ignition Interlock Device
In case you get multiple DUI convictions over a certain period of time, then you might be required to install an interlock ignition device on your vehicle. This device makes it impossible for you to start a car unless you give a breath sample and no alcohol is detected.
Even if you are a first time offender, you can be slapped with a one-year jail sentence. For repeat offenders, they can get multiple years in state prison. Although it is rare, the court can sometimes let a defendant service their prison sentence through home confinement or by wearing a GPS accessory.
A judge may include probation as part of jail time or add a probation term after jail time.
Risk Reduction Program
Refer “DUI School”
Substance Abuse Treatment Program
If after your medical evaluation, you are found to have an alcohol and/or substance abuse problem, then the doctor will recommend the appropriate treatment program. You have to comply with whatever treatment program that is recommended.
What is Georgia’s 10-Year Look-Back Period?
Georgia uses a 10-year look-back period for DUI offenses. Essentially, in case you are arrested for a DUI charge within 10 years of your first conviction, then you will be charged with a 2nd DUI. The penalties you can face will become more serious upon getting second and third DUI convictions. In Georgia, there is no expunction law that makes it possible to seal or erase a criminal offense from your record after a certain duration of time. You will face the tough task of explaining to college admission officials, future employers, and car rental firms that you got a DUI 10 years ago or even several decades ago.
How Can a DUI Affect my Life Outside of Criminal Charges?
One crucial thing that a majority of people tend to ignore or not realize when looking at the DUI penalties is that are numerous non-judicial consequences of a DUI. For instance, take a scenario where you have a DUI record on your driving history, and you are in the process of getting a job in a high-security clearance situation, where you might be required to go onto military bases. It is highly likely that you won’t qualify for the job since the DUI offense will appear when they search your records on the national computer. This will be a major obstacle for you when trying to get jobs in the future. This is a non-judicial consequence of getting a DUI conviction and not a criminal consequence.
What are the Federal Property Laws in Regards to a DUI?
If you are a driver in Georgia, then you are already aware of the fact that it is illegal to operate a vehicle anywhere in the state in case you are high due to drug or alcohol intake. It doesn’t make a difference whether you were on private or public property. But in regards to drinking and driving on federal property, location will be a major factor.
In the event that you are arrested for driving while drunk on federal property, then not only will your case be subject to Georgia’s strict DUI statutes, but also federal penalties. In reference to the Code of Federal Regulations, in case you are arrested for DUI while on any type of federal property, then additional sentencing requirements will apply.
In general, federal property includes any military base, government building, or national park. A number of airports and national monuments can be owned by the federal government. Due to this ownership, these kinds of properties are usually under the patrol of federal law enforcement agencies such as park rangers and military police officials. A federal agent has the mandate to arrest you and charge you with a federal DUI offense in case he or she thinks that you are driving under the influence.
Can I be Charged with a DUI in Georgia if I was on Private Property?
Since the term private property has a broad definition, you can be arrested for DUI in any place that is accessible to other road users – it doesn’t matter if it is on your own driveway or the mall parking lot. This means that you can not use the fact that even though you were drunk while driving, you were on private property as a defense strategy for a DUI charge in Georgia. Provided that a law enforcement agent has reasons to believe that you are under the influence of drugs and alcohol, then he or she has the authority to do a DUI investigation.
What is the Difference Between a DUI Less Safe and a DUI Per Se?
A DUI Less Safe, regardless of being drug, alcohol, or inhalant associated, means that the prosecution doesn’t have to provide evidence that you had exceeded the .08% legal limit so as to convict you. As a matter of fact, Georgia doesn’t have a legal limit for drugs or inhalants when it comes to DUI. The prosecution just needs to establish that your capacity to drive was made less safe by the fact that you were under the influence of the substance or substances that you partook.
On the other hand, a DUI Per Se is where your blood alcohol level was at or above the .08% legal limit when you were operating the vehicle or in the span of three hours of driving, or that you had a trace of marijuana or controlled substance in your system. If a chemical test(normally a blood or urine test) finds even the smallest amount of marijuana or controlled substance, then you can get a conviction under the DUI Per Se Law.
Note that you can get a DUI Less Safe charge for alcohol even if your BAC was below .08%. You may get charged with DUI Per Se if you are below 21 years of age and your BAC is above .02%. In the case of commercial drivers, the legal limit is .04% while operating a commercial vehicle. However, you can still be charged with DUI Less Safe in case your BAC was below .04%.
Contact a DUI Lawyer in Atlanta Today
A DUI conviction can bring severe charges. We recommend you contact a criminal defense attorney whether you’re looking at your first or fourth DUI charge. Contact Howard & Arca today for a free consultation to learn how we can help defend you today.