While most people have a basic understanding of driving under the influence (DUI), there are many facts that could come as a surprise to those accused of this serious crime. However, the most important fact you should remember at this time is that a drunk-driving arrest does not always lead to a conviction. If you are currently facing DUI charges in Georgia, a skilled defense attorney could increase the odds of a favorable resolution.
DUI offenses fall into two categories: less safe and per se. In a less safe case, the prosecutor must prove that your driving ability was compromised by the use of alcohol and/or drugs through the use of officer and eye witness testimony. Because these observations are entirely subjective, fighting a less safe DUI is certainly possible with the right defense lawyer on your side.
A “per se” DUI is based on your blood alcohol content (BAC) when you were operating a vehicle. For drivers over 21, the legal limit is .08%; however, it is reduced for underage and commercial drivers (.02% and .04%, respectively). Even if your driving was not impaired, your BAC is enough for a drunk-driving conviction. For this type of case, your lawyer may look into your breathalyzer or blood test to look for errors or factors that could have produced an inaccurate reading.
Another fact is that there are numerous defenses that can be used to help a person accused of drunk driving. For example, you have certain rights against illegal search and seizure–even when suspected of committing a crime. If the officer violated any of your rights during the DUI stop or arrest, these are grounds for a case dismissal.
Here’s a fact that many don’t know about DUI in Georgia–you could lose your license within a month if you fail to submit a hearing with the Department of Driver Services (DDS) within 10 days of your arrest. This is an administrative penalty, which means it is entirely separate from any sentence you may receive in criminal court. However, if your DDS hearing is successful, you will be able to retain your driving privileges.
DUI Felony GA
While many people think of driving under the influence (DUI) as a misdemeanor, it can be bumped up to a felony offense depending on the circumstances. A felony DUI carries several life-altering penalties, including imprisonment in a state penitentiary as well as a lengthy probation period. If you are currently facing Georgia felony charges, you must immediately contact a DUI defense attorney to begin fighting your case.
A change to Georgia’s DUI statutes made it a felony offense to receive four DUI convictions after July 2008. If found guilty, you can be sentenced to at least one year in prison as well as a five-year probation period.
Committing other crimes while driving under the influence could result in additional criminal charges–some of which may be classified as a felony! For example, if you cause a vehicle collision resulting in serious personal injury or wrongful death, you could be sentenced to at least 15 years in prison for each offense.
A felony conviction can also take away rights that you may have taken for granted. For example, you could be denied the right to own firearms or even vote. You will also be ineligible to work in certain fields, such as education or government. In addition, you may also face difficulties when applying for housing, loans, even schools.
At this time, you still have a chance to fight your DUI charges. A skilled defense lawyer can carefully review your the circumstances of your arrest to uncover flaws with the prosecution’s case. For example, there may have been an error with your blood alcohol content (BAC) reading or there may be evidence that the accident was not your fault
GA DUI Laws/Statute
The laws regarding driving under the influence (DUI) in Georgia are taken very seriously by both law enforcement agencies and the courts; in fact, even a first offense could result in jail time as well as other severe consequences. If you have recently been charged with violating any of Georgia’s DUI statutes, you should immediately obtain qualified legal counsel in order to begin preparing your defense.
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Laws
According to Georgia’s “per se” law, a driver may be charged with DUI even if his or her ability to operate a motor vehicle was not compromised; in fact, being over the legal limit can be enough for the prosecution to secure a conviction. Georgia’s BAC limits are based on the age of the driver as well as the type of license the driver holds. The “per se” limit for a driver over 21 is .08%, while a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder may be charged with a BAC of .04% or higher if he or she was operating a commercial vehicle at the time of arrest.
The state’s Zero Tolerance laws substantially reduces the legal limit for underage drivers to .02%; however, if a driver under the age of 21 has a BAC of .08% or higher, he or she can face a standard drunk-driving charge in addition to an under 21 charge.
If a driver operates a vehicle with a BAC of .15% or higher, he or she could face enhanced penalties, which may include a longer driver’s license suspension as well as increased jail time and court fines.
Implied Consent Law
The BAC reading is very important to the prosecution when trying a DUI case. For this reason, the state can impose harsh consequences on those who refuse to take the breathalyzer or blood test. According to Georgia’s Implied Consent law, drivers are obligated to comply with the officer’s request for a chemical test if suspected of intoxicated driving. Failure to take these tests may result in an automatic license suspension and could be used as admission of guilt during a criminal trial.
The penalties for a Georgia DUI are based on the amount of drunk-driving offenses on your record as well as other factors (such as causing an alcohol-related accident or transporting a minor while impaired). For a first offense, you may be sentenced to a one-year license suspension. The license suspension increases for each subsequent offense: three years for a second conviction and five years for a third conviction.
In addition to a license suspension, the court may sentence you to a mandatory minimum jail sentence. While the judge may increase the period of imprisonment, he cannot go below the minimum sentencing guidelines. You could also be ordered to attend alcohol education, assessment, and treatment. Vehicle-related penalties include the installation of an ignition interlock device and vehicle impoundment.