Criminal Proceedings

Georgia DUI – Criminal Proceedings

A DUI is a criminal offense that carries serious legal consequences. Under Georgia DWI/DUI laws, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle when your blood alcohol content (BAC) percentage is 0.08% or higher. If you under the age of 21, it is illegal to drive if your BAC is 0.02% or higher. If you are pulled over in Georgia for a suspected DUI and your BAC exceeds the legal limit when tested, you will be charged with a per se DUI.

It is important to understand that in Georgia even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you can face criminal prosecution under the state’s “less safe” DUI law. The “less safe” DUI law provides that it is illegal for an individual who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs to operate a vehicle when being under the influence makes it “less safe” for the individual to drive. The “less safe” DUI law gives police officers broad discretion to arrest you for a DUI when you show signs of impairment, regardless of your BAC level.

If you are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Georgia, you will face both criminal and administrative proceedings. These proceedings are confusing and can subject you to serious fines and penalties. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Valdosta, Thomasville or anywhere else in South Georgia, you should immediately contact a DUI defense lawyer who can help protect your legal rights and liberties.

Criminal Penalties for a DUI in Georgia

DUI offenders in the State of Georgia face harsh fines and penalties, including incarceration. If you are arrested for a DUI in Georgia, your criminal punishment will depend upon a number of factors, including whether this is a first or subsequent DUI offense and whether any serious injuries, property damage or deaths occurred.

First DUI Offense

A DUI in Georgia is a serious criminal offense. Even if this is your first DUI conviction, you will face significant criminal fines and penalties. These may include:

  • Your fine will range from $300 to $1,000.
  • Jail Time. Mandatory minimum of 24 hours in jail with a potential jail term of up to one year.
  • Alcohol/Drug Program. Completion of a DUI alcohol or substance abuse program and evaluation.
  • Community Service. Community service requirement of 40 hours.

Second DUI Offense

The look-back period for a DUI in Georgia is 10 years for criminal action. This means that if you have a previous DUI conviction that occurred within 10 years, the criminal penalties for your second DUI offense will increase. Your fines and penalties may include:

  • Your fine will range from $600 to $1,000.
  • Jail Time. Mandatory 72 hours in jail with a potential jail term of up to one year.
  • Alcohol/Drug Program. Completion of a DUI alcohol or substance abuse program and evaluation.
  • Community Service. Community service requirement of 30 days.
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID). Possible requirement to install an IID in your vehicle.

Third DUI Offense

If you are convicted of a third DUI within the state’s look-back period, your criminal fines and penalties will be even more severe. These may include:

  • Your fine will range from $1,000 to $5,000.
  • Jail Time. Mandatory 15 days in jail with a potential jail term of up to one year.
  • Alcohol/Drug Program. Completion of a DUI alcohol or substance abuse program and evaluation.
  • Community Service. Community service requirement of 30 days.
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID). Requirement to install an IID in your vehicle.

Fourth DUI Offense

If you are convicted of a fourth DUI offense within the 10 year look-back period, this is a felony conviction. Your fines and penalties may include:

  • Your fine will range from $1,000 to $5,000.
  • Jail Time. Jail term ranging from one to five years.
  • Alcohol/Drug Program. Completion of a DUI alcohol or substance abuse program and evaluation.
  • Community Service. Community service requirement of 60 days.
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID). Requirement to install an IID in your vehicle.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is generally considered a misdemeanor in Georgia. However, if this is your fourth DUI, you will face a felony conviction. Additionally, a DUI offense may be elevated to a felony in certain circumstances, such as if a death or serious injury occurred.

A Valdosta DUI Lawyer Can Help

If you have been charged with a DUI in Georgia, time is of the essence. Attorney Gus Soto is an experienced lawyer who focuses his criminal practice on the defense of DUI cases. He offers free consultations to individuals across southern Georgia and can be reached through the firm’s online contact form or by calling 1-888-440-7686.