The minimum penalties for a first lifetime DUI in Georgia are 12 months of probation, 24 hours in jail, a $300 fine plus court costs, 40 hours of community service, DUI School, and a clinical substance abuse evaluation. The jail time and clinical evaluation can both be waived in the discretion of the judge. However, you can always expect probation, a fine, some community service and DUI school with almost any plea offer. These penalties increase drastically if there are prior DUIs, especially in the last 10 years. There is also a post-conviction license suspension that is separate from the administrative license suspension which must be contested within 30 days of your arrest. However, any pre-conviction license suspension from the administrative hearing will count towards your post-conviction license suspension. If there have not been any prior license suspensions, the court will suspend your license when you enter your plea and issue paperwork instructing the Department of Driver Services to issue you a limited driving permit. That permit is good for up to one year, but you are eligible for full reinstatement of your driving privileges after serving 120 days on the limited driving permit.
You should never expect to get the minimum sentence if you take a case to trial and lose. There are many reasons why a judge may sentence you more harshly, but it typically boils down to a lack of acceptance of responsibility. I have also seen a judge punish a defendant more harshly when the judge feels as though the defendant lied under oath during their testimony. Other justifications for a harsher sentence include the use of court resources and time.
You will be given credit for any time you spent in custody at the time of your arrest. So, if you served 8 hours before bonding out, then sometimes judges will generously round up giving you “credit for time served” fulfilling the entire 24 hour requirement. A DUI conviction requires a minimum of 12 months on probation. Probation cannot terminate early, but your judge may allow you go “non-reporting” upon completion of all the conditions of your plea (after you pay the fine, do community service etc.). Community service can be done at any non-profit, non-religious organization. Some counties will give incentives for doing your hours with their preferred organizations or through the county itself by giving 2 for 1 credit for every hour you perform. Risk Reduction, otherwise known as a DUI school, is a 20-hour course. There are multiple schools in every county, and they all offer the exact same program so you can choose the most convenient location with the best hours to fit your schedule. The clinical evaluation typically takes 1-2 hours to complete, and the counselor will produce a report with specific recommendations that must be completed. If there are no substance abuse issues found, then there will be no treatment recommended. Another common condition of a DUI plea or conviction is random screening for drugs and alcohol. These screens come in the form of urine tests. If drugs or alcohol are detected in your system, then you would be in violation of the terms of your probation.
For determining the minimum penalties for subsequent convictions, the court will look at how many DUIs you have had in the last 10 years. The look-back period is 10 years based on the arrest date, not the conviction date. The second conviction has the same basic conditions as a first DUI but all of the minimum penalties are enhanced (3 days in jail, $600 fine, 240 hours of community service, 18 month license suspension etc.). A third conviction becomes a high and aggravated misdemeanor with up to a $5,000 fine and a minimum of 15 days in jail. A fourth conviction becomes a felony requiring a minimum of 1 year in jail. If a prior conviction is outside the 10-year window, then the enhanced minimum penalties are not required, but the prosecutor will still seek a harsher punishment than if you had no prior DUIs at all.
An ignition interlock device (IID) is a device wired into the ignition of your vehicle that requires you to blow into the attached breathalyzer before the vehicle will start. The vehicle will not start if any alcohol is detected. You must get it professionally installed and maintained through one of the approved providers in Georgia. There can be issues with the IID in which the device malfunctions and strands you until help can arrive. So like any machine, it comes with risks. An IID is a requirement for anyone convicted of multiple DUIs within 5 years, not the 10-year look back period for other DUI penalties. It can also be an option on a first lifetime DUI if you choose to forgo the license appeal and take the limited driving permit for 12 months. For those 12 months, you will be paying for the cost of the IID which is somewhere around $100/month, and you will have only have a limited driving permit to go to work, school or medical appointments. If someone voluntarily installs the IID on their vehicle, it is typically in a refusal case where they were looking at a 1-year hard suspension and could not risk losing their ability to drive for an entire year. Still, it can be a hassle.
For more information on DUI Laws In Georgia, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (470) 728-1725 today.