If you’re caught driving under the influence in Georgia, you’ll typically be charged with a misdemeanor. However, the law allows the state to charge you with a felony in certain situations. While all criminal convictions will be a stain on your record, a felony is even more serious. Even before you suffer the long-term consequences, you’ll face higher fines, longer license suspensions, and a prison sentence rather than jail time.
Drivers in Georgia who are convicted of a felony must spend a minimum of one year in prison. They lose the right to hold public office and vote, and they often find it hard to get a job. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, you need to seek legal advice from our Atlanta DUI lawyers. For now, it may be helpful to learn more about when you’re likely to be charged with a felony.
What Constitutes a DUI in Georgia?
It is against the law for any motorist to operate a vehicle if they have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more. However, commercial drivers can face DUI charges if their BAC is 0.04 percent or higher. Meanwhile, drivers who are not yet 21 can be arrested if their BAC is 0.02 percent or higher. Penalties for drivers who are convicted include jail time, license suspension or revocation, fines, and participation in an alcohol risk reduction course. The penalties increase depending on the number of convictions a driver has on their record.
What Leads to a Felony DUI Charge in Georgia
Many situations can result in felony DUI charges. If you had been issued with a probationary license and you subsequently broke a DUI law, you would be guilty of a felony if convicted. Also, if the police arrested you for drunk driving and you were transporting a minor under the age of 14 you would be charged with child endangerment. Your third or subsequent such conviction would be treated as a felony. However, if you were carrying three children under the age of 14 at the same time, it will be treated as three separate offenses. You would, therefore, automatically be charged with a felony.
Motorists who cause accidents that result in significant injuries or death can also face more serious charges. That’s because it’s a felony to cause serious bodily harm to another individual while driving under the influence. In Georgia, serious injury by vehicle is punishable by one to 15 years in prison.
If you are convicted or you plead guilty, you will lose your license for at least three years. You won’t have the option of applying for early reinstatement or getting a limited use driving permit. If you’re accused of first-degree vehicular homicide, you’ll also face felony charges. You’ll need to hire an experienced Atlanta DUI lawyer to fight the charges on your behalf.
One of the most common situations that can result in a felony DUI charge is when a driver gets four DUI convictions in ten years. The minimum sentence in such a case is one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. The maximum is five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If you’re convicted of a felony DUI, your driver’s license could be suspended for up to two years.
It’s possible that you could receive probation as well as credit for the time you spent in jail immediately after your arrest. However, you would still have to serve a 90-day sentence. A judge can also suspend part of your fine if you agree to enter a drug or alcohol treatment program that’s approved by the court. In addition, you will have to complete 480 hours of community service.
There are additional penalties if your fourth DUI is also your third or subsequent in five years. You will have to pay $25 to have a notice of your conviction placed in the local newspaper accompanied by your photo.
Contact Howard & Arca DUI Lawyers Today for Help in Fighting Your DUI Charges
If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Georgia, you must contact an attorney as soon as possible. A DUI is always a serious charge but a felony DUI results in even harsher penalties. An accusation doesn’t have to result in a conviction if you have a skilled DUI lawyer in Atlanta, GA representing you. At Howard & Arca DUI Lawyers, we’ll do everything we can to help you secure the best possible outcome. Call us today to schedule a consultation.