Being charged with a DUI is stressful. Whether you were drinking before your arrest or your breath test returned a false positive, you should retain an Atlanta DUI lawyer who can help you through the court process and ensure that your rights are not violated. After your arrest, you will usually be required to appear in court the next business day to enter a plea.
Hire an Atlanta DUI attorney as soon as possible so you don’t accidentally implicate yourself.
You face arrest and conviction for a DUI if your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or higher within 3 hours of driving. You do not even necessarily need to be driving to be arrested; Georgia law states that you may be arrested for sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle while you are intoxicated, even if the vehicle is not moving or is turned off. The police may also arrest you if you are under the influence of drugs, including marijuana and other controlled substances, or even toxic vapors from glues or aerosols.
Sometimes you may have to drive while you are taking prescription medications. But you must be careful: Georgia’s DUI laws may apply if you are pulled over and found to be impaired by a prescription drug. To arrest you for a DUI, however, the officer must conclude that you are so impaired that you are not able to drive safely.
DUI charges stack up against you over a period of 10 years. This means that if you are arrested for a DUI, you will be charged based on the number of DUI-related incidents you have had in the past 10 years. The 10 years are measured from the date of your arrest back to your prior conviction or plea of nolo contendre. Thus, if you were convicted of or pled nolo contendere to a DUI in 2010, and it is now 2019, that prior conviction will count against you. But if you were convicted of a DUI in 2002, that conviction is more than 10 years old and will not count against you.
If this is your first DUI (or your only DUI within the previous 10 years), you will be charged with a misdemeanor. If you are convicted, the penalties will include a fine of at least $300. The fine may not exceed $1,000, but it cannot be waived. Additional penalties the court may order, either in conjunction with the fine or instead of the fine, include:
- Up to 12 months in jail. However, the court may decide to probate, suspend, or stay the jail sentence beyond 24 hours, which is mandatory.
- Courts may order you to serve up to 12 months of probation, minus any time you served in jail. For example, if you served 30 days in jail, you would only be required to serve probation for 11 months.
- At least 40 hours of community service unless your blood alcohol content was less than 0.08, in which case, the mandatory minimum is 20 hours of community service.
- You may have to take a “DUI class.” The DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program sponsor will send a notice once you enroll in the program.
- You may have to undergo a clinical evaluation, although a court can waive this requirement.
If you are convicted of a DUI for the second time in a 10-year period, it is still considered a misdemeanor, but the minimum fine increases to $600. The maximum fine is still $1,000. Jail time is increased to a minimum of 90 days but the maximum is still 12 months. The rules for probation are the same as for your first conviction and may be combined with any jail time you serve. However, even if the court decides to order probation, you must still serve at least 72 hours in jail. Additionally, 30 days of community service is required. Penalties may also include the DUI class and clinical evaluation mentioned above.
A third conviction in 10 years is charged as an aggravated misdemeanor. Associated fines range from $1,000 to $5,000. While jail time cannot be longer than 12 months, 120 days are mandatory. The court may decide to probate part of the sentence after the mandatory 120 days. You may also be required to serve a minimum of 30 days of community service, and be ordered to take the DUI class and/or undergo a clinical evaluation.
A fourth conviction in 10 years is charged a felony. Fines range from $1,000 to $5,000 and jail time ranges from a minimum of one year to a maximum of 5 years. Probation is five years minus time served. Community service time is increased to 60 days. And as with the misdemeanors, the court may order you to take a DUI class and undergo a clinical evaluation.
In addition to the penalties described above, Georgia DUI laws are tough and you may be subject to administrative penalties, including the suspension of your driver’s license. For the first offense in a five-year period, you may have your license suspended for up to one year. The regulations allow you to apply for reinstatement after 120 days, but you must meet several criteria, including taking a DUI class and paying reinstatement fees.
Penalties for Those Younger Than 21
If you are underage and are convicted of certain criminal offenses, including DUI, you will have your license suspended for up to one year.
Contact Schnipper Law, P.C.’s Atlanta DUI Attorneys
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, contact Schnipper Law, P.C. at (404) 545-5845 for a consultation. You may have affirmative defenses available to you even if you were drinking or otherwise under the influence of an intoxicating substance. Our DUI lawyers will investigate your case and can help ensure your rights are not violated in court.