Georgia DUI Laws
Georgia has many laws concerning driving under the influence. A conviction for a DUI will come with severe punishments. The DUI laws in Georgia do not just apply to alcohol: it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, over the counter, toxic vapors, or a combination. Georgia DUI laws are very technical and continuously changing. The rules are extensive and can be difficult to understand without the assistance of an experienced Georgia DUI Lawyer.
O.C.G.A. §40-6-39(a) outlines what driving under the influence means in Georgia
(a) A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while:
- Under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;
- Under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;
- Under the intentional influence of any glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;
- Under the combined influence of any two or more of the substances specified in paragraphs (1) through (3) of this subsection to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;
- The person's alcohol concentration is 0.08 grams or more at any time within three hours after such driving or being in actual physical control from alcohol consumed before such driving or being in actual physical control ended; or
- Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this Code section, there is any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance, as defined in Code Section 16-13-21, present in the person's blood or urine, or both, including the metabolites and derivatives of each or both without regard to whether or not any alcohol is present in the person's breath or blood.
Georgia Law on DUI with a CDL
O.C.G.A. §40-6-391 states a person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving commercial motor vehicle while there is 0.04 percent or more by weight of alcohol in such person's blood, breath, or urine.
A person convicted under this statute will be guilty of a misdemeanor but will also face a one-year disqualification of their Commercial Driver's License. A subsequent DUI conviction will result in a lifetime CDL disqualification. In addition, what we would consider being a minor offense associated with a DUI is viewed as a serious traffic violation for the purpose of CDL disqualification. Serious traffic violations include speeding, reckless driving, and improper lane change. After two convictions for a serious traffic violation within three years, CDL drivers will receive a 60-day disqualification.
Georgia Laws on DUI for Drivers Under the Age of 21
There are some differences when a person under 21 receives a DUI than when a person over 21 receives one. If your BAC was lower than 0.08 grams or you refused to take the State test, the judge can sentence you to as few as 20 hours community service and no jail time is required, but the judge may order jail time at his or her discretion given the circumstances of your case.
For license suspension purposes, the look-back period to determine the number of prior convictions is only five years. The license suspension for a first DUI conviction in Georgia is 12 months, but if you complete DUI school and pay a reinstatement fee, you will be eligible for early reinstatement after 120 days. If you are 21 years old or older, you can apply for a limited use driving permit for the duration of the license suspension that will allow you to drive to work, school, substance abuse counseling, DUI school, for medical care and treatment purposes, to pharmacies to drop off or pick up prescriptions, court appearances, probation appointments, and community service. If an immediate family member is unlicensed, you can drive them to work, school, medical care, and to pharmacies to drop off and pick up prescriptions.
For drivers under the age of 21, if your blood alcohol concentration was less than 0.08 grams or you refused to submit to the State-administered breath test, the license suspension period is six months. If your BAC was 0.08 grams or more, the license suspension period is 12 months. No limited-use driving permit or early reinstatement is available to any driver under the age of 21.
For convictions of DUI drugs, the license suspension is a “hard” license suspension, meaning no limited use permit is available for the entire period of suspension. If you were also charged with any other drug-related offenses, those charges might also carry license suspensions that will run consecutively to any active license suspension already on your record.
Penalty for DUI While Driving a School Bus
A school bus driver convicted of a DUI while driving a school bus shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of not less than one year nor more than five years or by a fine of not less than $1,000.00 nor more than $5,000.00, or both.
First DUI Penalty
Many people are unaware that DUI's are considered a misdemeanor in Georgia. There are situations where it will be a felony DUI, but for the most part, they are charged with misdemeanors. In Georgia, the penalty for a misdemeanor is up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine. It will also include court surcharges. The minimum penalty for a first DUI conviction within a 10-year period is 24 hours in jail, which may still be waived as time served, and a $300.00 fine. Other mandatory requirements are 40 hours community service, a DUI Risk Reduction course (commonly known as “DUI School”), and 12 months probation minus any time served in jail, which may be supervised or potentially non-reporting and may allow for random drug and alcohol screening. An Alcohol and Drug Evaluation may be required but can be waived by the judge at his or her discretion.
Second DUI Penalty
The maximum penalty for a second DUI conviction in Georgia within 10 years is 12 months incarceration and a $1,000.00 fine plus court surcharges. The minimum penalty is 72 hours in jail with credit for any time served after arrest, and a $600.00 fine. However, not all judges give credit for time served. Other mandatory requirements are 30 days (240 hours) community service, DUI school, 12 months probation less any time served in jail, and a clinical evaluation and any recommended substance abuse treatment.
If this is your second DUI conviction within 5 years, however, there are additional penalties. There is a $25.00 fee to publish a notice of your conviction and your photograph in your county newspaper. You will also be required to surrender the license plates to any vehicle registered in your name.
For a second DUI conviction in Georgia within 5 years, the maximum license suspension is 3 years. The first 120 days is a “hard” suspension, and thereafter you can apply for a restricted permit that will allow you to drive for limited purposes conditioned upon the installation of an ignition interlock device for a minimum period of 8 months. In order to apply for an ignition interlock device limited permit you will have to present a certificate of eligibility from a drug court program or proof of enrollment in substance abuse treatment. A clinical evaluation must be completed prior to enrolling in a treatment program. The certificate of eligibility from a drug court program is only issued at the discretion of the judge during sentencing. The judge can decide to not issue the certificate for any reason. The ignition interlock device limited driving permit will allow you to drive only to work, school, regularly scheduled meetings for alcohol or substance abuse, monthly monitoring visits with the permit holder's ignition interlock device service provider.
After the period expires requiring an ignition interlock device, you can apply for a limited permit without the ignition interlock device restriction. After 8 months with an ignition interlock device installed, the ignition interlock device requirement can be lifted and you can apply for a limited driving permit without this restriction for the remaining 6 months of the suspension. After 18 months, you will be eligible for early reinstatement of your full driving privileges if you provide proof that an ignition interlock device was maintained for period of 8 months or order from a court exempting you from this requirement, proof of completion of a substance abuse treatment program (if required by the clinical evaluation), and a reinstatement fee.
Third DUI Penalty
The penalty for a third DUI conviction in Georgia within 10 years will be jail time between 120 days and 12 months. There will also be a fine between $1,000 and $5,000. Because a third DUI conviction is considered a “high and aggravated” misdemeanor, the amount of earned time allowance will be limited for jail sentences. The judge can suspend half of the fine if you undergo an alcohol or drug treatment program approved by the court. Other mandatory requirements are 30 days (240 hours) community service, DUI school, 12 months probation less any time served in jail, a clinical evaluation and any recommended substance abuse treatment.
If this is a third DUI conviction within 5 years, you will also be subject to a $25.00 fee to publish a notice of your conviction and your photograph in your county newspaper. You will be required to surrender the license plates to any vehicle registered in your name. Further, you will be declared a habitual violator. Any person declared a habitual violator must forfeit their vehicle to the state, though you can petition the judge to transfer the title to another family member if the forfeiture would cause your family financial hardship.
Penalty for a Fourth or Subsequent DUI in Georgia
The penalty for a fourth DUI conviction in Georgia within 10 years is between 1-5 years in jail and a fine between $1,000.00 and $5,000.00 fine plus court surcharges. The judge can suspend half of the fine if you undergo an alcohol or drug treatment program approved by the court. Georgia law mandates at least 60 days (480 hours) community service, completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program, a clinical evaluation, 5 years probation less any time served in jail, and any recommended substance abuse treatment. All community service can be suspended if you are sentenced to serve 3 years in jail or more.
Contact Us Today
Being arrested for a DUI is overwhelming, and it is not something for you to handle by yourself! You only have 30 days after your arrest to either appeal your license suspension or install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. But do not decision without first speaking with a Georgia DUI Lawyer. Call now to protect your driving privileges in Georgia.