What do I need to do if I have been arrested for DUI in Georgia?
Once you have been arrested for DUI, the legal process has begun. There will be many questions about your case and what legal steps need to be taken to properly challenge your DUI case. The facts of your specific case will contain the answer to these questions. Every case is different and requires a different course of action.
Different DUI's in Georgia
DUI Per Se
DUI per se is DUI as defined by statute. A person is guilty of DUI-per se if he drives a car while his blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 grams or more at any time within three hours after such driving. OCGA § 40-6-391(a)(5).
DUI Less Safe
In a DUI [less safe] case ... the act consists of (1) driving, (2) after consuming alcohol to the extent that one is (3) a less safe driver. The State does not need to prove that the driver intended to drive while intoxicated or that his blood alcohol level was above 0.08. This means that if you blow a 0.05 on the Intoxilyzer 5000 or 9000, you may still receive a DUI charge. Because Georgia does not have statutory limits for any type of illegal or prescription drugs, both of these forms of DUI are DUI less safe charges. OCGA § 40-6-391(a)(1)
One of the first issues that arises in DUI cases is whether or not the arresting officer has initiated a driver's license suspension by filing a Sworn Report under the Georgia Implied Consent Law. You may be subject to a driver's license suspension whether you took the State administered test of your blood, breath, urine or other bodily substance, OR refused any tests that the officer requested. The arresting officer will usually (not always) serve the person that is arrested with a Form 1205, which is a temporary driving permit which is a 45-Day Temporary Driving Permit. The most important thing to remember if you have received a Temporary Driving Permit is that you only have 30 days from the date of your arrest to file for an appeal of the administrative suspension of your license by requesting a hearing with the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings Court. If you wait for more than 30 days to request this hearing, then your Georgia driver's license may be administratively suspended for one-year.
The next step in your case will likely be your first court appearance which will be your arraignment hearing. The purpose of your arraignment is hearing is for you to have your charges formally read aloud to you in court and for you to determine which type of plea you would like to enter: guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere. If you retain a lawyer, he/she may waive your arraignment and file discovery requests of which the responses should contain the formal charging documents that will show exactly what crimes you have been charged with.
Case Continues to Conclusion
From this point in your case, it may proceed in many different ways. You may request motions hearings, enter a plea, or demand a jury trial or bench trial. Your lawyer will be able to help you determine which option he/she believes will result in the best outcome in your case based on the law and facts. It is always your decision as to whether or not you want to enter a plea in your case or proceed to have a bench or jury trial.
Penalties for an alcohol DUI conviction in the State of Georgia
For a 1st DUI conviction in lifetime (if over 21 years old):
A fine of not less than $300 nor more than $1,000 (plus court costs and fees which can double this amount) 10 days - 12 months in jail, of which not less than 24 hours may be served on probation Not less than 40 hours of community service, unless your Blood Alcohol Level was less than 0.08, where you may complete no less than 20 hours of community service Completion of a state-certified risk reduction course/DUI School Completion of a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation and compliance with any recommended treatment
Further, your Georgia driver's license will be suspended as well. Typically if it is your first DUI conviction within the previous 5-year period, you may be eligible for an Affidavit For First Conviction within Five Years. You obtain this certified affidavit from the court at the time you enter a plea or are convicted of DUI. If you have obtained this affidavit from the court and have completed your Risk Reduction Course, then you may be eligible to obtain a limited driving permit so that you can drive to work, school, church, and required probation and community service facilities. Obtaining this permit is also contingent on whether or not you are subject to an administrative suspension of your license based on the Georgia Implied Consent law. If so, you may not be eligible for a limited driving permit. After 120 days, you will be eligible to have your regular license reinstated by paying a $230 reinstatement fee.
For a 2nd DUI conviction within the previous 5 year period (if over 21 years old): A fine of not less than $600 nor more than $1000 (plus court costs and fees which can double this amount) 90 days -12 months in jail, of which not less than 72 hours may be served on probation (3 days is the minimum jail time) Not less than 30 days of community service (240 Hours of community service) Completion of a state-certified risk reduction course/DUI School Completion of a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation and compliance with any recommended treatment
Additional items may also be required such as attending AA meetings, Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panels (MADD VIP), or additional community service hours.
Your Georgia Driver's License will be also be suspended. The period of suspension will be 18 months with a limited driving permit available after 4 months (with the court's permission) if an Interlock Device installed in your vehicle. Eligibility for this permit is again contingent on whether or not you are subject to other administrative suspensions under the Georgia Implied Consent law.
Commercial Driver's Licenses
Commercial driver's licenses involve a completely separate set of rules and regulations that pertain to DUI related offense. Please give our office a call to discuss potential penalties if you have a commercial driver's license.
DUI Under 21 years old
If you are under 21 years of age, a completely separate set of rules and regulations will apply to your case. It is important to know that if you have an under 21 DUI conviction or a reckless driving conviction, you are subject to a 6 month license suspension.