Georgia DUI Laws

What You Need to Know About DUIs

Driving under the influence (DUI) carries serious legal consequences, including jail time, fines, mandatory classes, counseling, and possible license suspension.

These penalties can disrupt your career, education, and future job prospects. They might also impact your ability to get loans and financial aid. You may also be denied government assistance or security clearances if you have a DUI record.

Here, Swingle Levin LLC attorneys tell you what you need to know about Georgia’s DUI laws. DUI convictions can carry varying penalty levels depending on the facts of the case. Consult an attorney to know the specific penalties you may face.

The definition of DUI in Georgia

Georgia defines DUI as operating a vehicle while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, which makes driving unsafe. In Georgia, the legal blood alcohol limit for adult drivers (ages 21 and older) who are NOT operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is 0.08%. A commercial motor vehicle operator is held to a strict Georgia BAC limit of only 0.04 grams percent.

A DUI can be charged even if alcohol has been consumed before driving. DUI charges can also be triggered by marijuana or controlled substances in the blood or urine.

Georgia’s Zero-Tolerance DUI Laws

Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly prohibited in Georgia. Georgia follows a zero-tolerance policy that prohibits drivers under 21 years old from having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.02%. You will be charged as an adult if your blood alcohol level is over .08%. But you can be charged with DUI even if your BAC content is below the legal limit.  In Georgia, such DUIs, which carry the same penalties, are usually known as a DUI – less safe.

Is DUI a Misdemeanor or Felony?

A DUI is typically a misdemeanor charge for a first and second offense within ten years. However, if certain aggravating factors are present, it can be elevated to a felony. These include:

  • Multiple DUI convictions within ten years
  • Severe injury or death caused by the DUI.

Laws can change, and individual circumstances can affect how a case is prosecuted. In order to get an evaluation of your case and accurate information regarding your case, contact Georgia DUI laws.

Penalties for DUI in Georgia

Georgia DUI consequences come in three distinct categories:

  1. Administrative license suspension
  2. Criminal penalties for a DUI conviction
  3. Collateral consequences

Administrative License Suspension

Your driver’s license can face administrative suspension when a DUI charge is issued. This suspension affects your driving privileges while the DUI case is being resolved.

In Georgia, drivers who have been arrested for DUI have 30 days from the date of their arrest to submit a letter of appeal to stop the suspension of their license. Drivers are required to submit a letter called the 30-Day Letter. In this letter, you are requesting a hearing in order to prevent your Georgia driver’s license from being automatically suspended.

Driving privileges can be maintained by either attending an ALS hearing or installing an ignition interlock device. If neither action is taken within 30 days, your license will be suspended for one year.

The ALS hearing is separate from the DUI proceedings and does not affect the criminal verdict.

Consequences of a DUI conviction

The DUI case carries specific penalties. The penalties vary based on the number of offenses and become more severe as the number of offenses increases.

Your first DUI offense in a decade usually results in a misdemeanor on your record. The penalties include:

  • Ten days to 12 months in jail
  • A mandatory minimum of 24 hours in jail
  • Fines ranging from $300 to $1,000
  • A minimum of 20 hours of community service (40 hours if your BAC was .08% or higher)
  • A 12-month license suspension.

For a second DUI within 5 years, it’s still a misdemeanor with penalties like:

  • 90 days to 12 months in jail (72 hour minimum in jail)
  • Fines between $600 and $1,000
  • At least 30 hours of community service
  • 18 month license suspension.
  • 2nd DUI conviction within 10 years is the same criminal penalties but a greater DDS suspension

Collateral Consequences

While DUIs are common, the effect of a DUI is unique and uniquely painful to anyone with the misfortune of having this type of conviction on his or her record.  There is no first offender program for DUIs in Georgia, so a DUI conviction will be on your record forever.  Many consequences flow from that permanent record.  It will be a stain on your record that you  will need to explain to future employers, schools, and law enforcement.  It may have immigration consequences that prevent you from staying permanently in the U.S.  It may prevent you from obtaining the job or career of your choice.  Such secondary effects – those consequences not directly imposed by the sentencing court – are known as collateral consequences.


Field Sobriety Tests

The three most common Field Sobriety Tests are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Walk and Turn, and the One Leg Stand. 

– HGN – This is a test of the eyes and their ability to track a stimulus. The officer will likely hold a pen 12 to 15 inches from the participants face and move that pen from one side to the other. The officer is looking for an involuntary jerking of the eye known as Nystagmus. The officer will be looking for the eyes to jerk while attempting to track the stimulus, for the eyes to jerk while focusing on the stimulus while still, and if the eyes are following the stimulus at the same rate. 

– Walk and Turn – The officer will explain and briefly demonstrate this test. The participant will be asked to walk in a straight line in a heel to toe fashion. Participant will be instructed to take 9 steps before turning around in a specific way and walking back to the starting point. The officer will be looking for balance and attention during the instructional phase, if the participant misses touching heel to toe during the steps, if participant needs to use their arms for balance, and if you follow all the directions provided. 

– One Leg Stand – This is a balancing test. You will be instructed to lift one of your feet 6 inches off the ground, to stare at that foot, and to count out loud until told to stop. The officer will be watching you during the test for any swaying, if you need your arms for balance, and if you drop your raised foot and have to reset your position.

Let Swingle Levin, LLC, Take Care of Your Legal Issues

DUI convictions have an impact on various aspects of your life beyond driving privileges. In order to explore potential solutions, you need to consult a Georgia DUI lawyer. Our highly respected lawyers at Swingle Levin can help.

We possess in-depth knowledge of Georgia’s DUI laws. Additionally, we keep up with recent legal developments and case rulings, enabling us to guide you effectively.

Additionally, we have access to a wide range of resources that can create a strong defense for you. We thoroughly investigate every aspect of your case, including interviewing witnesses and reviewing audio and video recordings. We also ensure that our lawyers file all paperwork appropriately and on time.

We pride ourselves on providing personalized representation. We offer tailored advice to assist you in making informed decisions. Contact Swingle Levin LLC, to schedule a free case assessment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are DUIs in Georgia Punishable by Probation?

The probation period for DUI offenders is 12 months, less any time spent in jail. However, there are mandatory minimums that DUI offenders must spend in jail. First-time DUI offenders must spend at least 24 hours in jail and 72 hours for second-time DUI offenders..


How Long Does a DUI Conviction Remain on Your Record in Georgia?

You should understand that a Georgia DUI conviction has lifelong consequences. Whether you admit guilt or a court determines it, the resulting conviction remains on your record indefinitely. There is no possibility of erasure.