If you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI, or you’re worried that it may happen at some point in the future, it is important to understand how the process and law work in such cases. The state of Georgia takes DUIs very seriously, which means you need to take these charges very seriously as well. This time of year, police are cracking down on drunk driving as evidenced by the increased rates of DUI-related traffic stops, and we hope you stay safe this holiday season.
To start with, read through the following common questions to get a basic understanding of the situation you are in:
What Constitutes a DUI?
A DUI, or ‘Driving Under the Influence’ is a charge that can be brought against drivers who are under the influence of just about any substance, including legal drugs, illegal drugs, and alcohol. The vast majority of DUIs are given because people are over the ‘legal limit’ of alcohol. This legal limit is measured by their blood alcohol content, or BAC. In the state of Georgia, there are three different DUI categories depending on factors that apply to the driver. Each category has a different BAC limit:
- Under 21 Years Old – Those who are under the age of can be charged with a DUI if their BAC is .02% or higher.
- 21 Years Old and Above – Those who are 21 years old or older will be charged with a DUI if their BAC is .08% or above.
- Commercial Drivers – Commercial drivers of any age can be charged with a DUI if their BAC is .04% or above.
What are the Potential Penalties for a DUI?
If you have been convicted of a DUI, the judge can sentence you to a range of different penalties. Judges have a lot of flexibility in their sentencing, but the guidelines they follow are based on how many DUI convictions are on your record. The potential penalties are as follows:
- 1st Offense – Jail time of 24 hours to 1 year, fines of $300 to $1000, and your driver’s license being suspended for up to one year.
- 2nd Offense – Jail time of 3 days to 1 year, fines of $600 to $1000, and your driver’s license being suspended for three years. The court can allow a restricted license with an ignition interlock device if they choose.
- 3rd Offense – Jail time of 15 days to 1 year, fines of $1000 to $5000, and your driver’s license being suspended for five years (with an ignition interlock device being required if you are given a restricted license).
- 4th Offense – Jail time of 1 to 5 years, fines of $1000 to $5000, and an indefinite suspension of your driver’s license and mandatory ignition interlock device if your license is restored.
How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?
Once you’ve been convicted of a DUI, it will technically stay on your record forever. When it comes to influencing your potential penalties (as listed above), however, a DUI ‘falls off’ after a period of 10 years. Prior to 2008, DUIs would fall off after just 5 years, but it was extended to 10 in recent legislation intended to crack down on drunk drivers.
What is the Best Way to Fight a DUI?
After being arrested and charged with a DUI, the absolute best thing you can do to attempt to avoid conviction and all the penalties is to hire an experienced DUI attorney. An attorney will be able to look closely at your case and come up with an effective defense strategy to present to the courts. To speak with a DUI attorney in Georgia, contact Greathouse Trial Law, LLC to schedule a consultation to go over all your options.