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What are the penalties for a DUI conviction in Georgia?

Things to remember...
  • Driving after consuming illegal amounts of alcohol is a violation in every single state in the United States
  • In Georgia, repeat offenders of the Driving While Intoxicated (DUI) laws will face greater consequences for each violation
  • By getting a DUI in Georgia, drivers are also exposing themselves to public ridicule, increased insurance rates, and a long washback period

In order for one to be eligible to drive a vehicle, they must pass written tests, driving exams, be issued a valid driver’s license, and have valid insurance/registration.

Even with all of these requirements, however, road accidents in the United States happen every few minutes somewhere.

These are caused by too many reasons to list, although a famous source of negligence arises from too much alcohol one consumes before ever starting their vehicle.

In 2015, the death toll connected to alcohol-related accidents in the United States was 10,256. This vividly communicates the necessity for strict laws that address this area of violations and supports the need to harshly punish anyone who engages in this sort of activity.

Even with the aforementioned statistic, however, the rate at which people were dying due to drunk driving has gone down by 54 percent as compared to 1982.

Even though there is more work to be done, the fact that fewer people are losing their lives to this issue nowadays validates the work done by the policymakers and law enforcers.

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Table of Contents

The Situation in Georgia

In Georgia, a state with over 10 million residents, there are almost 5.8 million licensed drivers.

With a number so high, it is inevitable that the issue of drunk driving will be amplified. So, what is the exact situation of the laws and penalties if one gets caught driving in the Peach State?

The official name for the offense in Georgia is “driving under the influence,” better known by its acronym, DUI.

This is an important distinction as there are multiple states that name the same violation differently, such as Indiana or Iowa where it is called “operating while intoxicated.”

When have you had too much to drink in Georgia?

When it comes to legal limits of alcohol that can be present in your blood, the federal limits for Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) are set at 0.08. In Georgia, the high BAC limit is set at 0.15.

If a breathalyzer test is conducted and the police officer determines that alcohol in the bloodstream exceeds allowed limits, the driver will be charged with a DUI.

As it has happened on many occasions in many different states, getting a DUI can be an issue for drivers on more than one occasion. This is when repeat offenders will destroy their credibility and be prosecuted harder, ultimately even facing a felony charge.

The First Offense

The first time that someone is caught driving under the influence of alcohol, they will be treated as the first-time offender. This is important because the penalties differ enormously for almost every scenario.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • As far as the classification, one will be charged with a misdemeanor in this situation.
  • License revocation of up to one year.
  • Imprisonment anywhere from 10 days to 12 months depending on the gravity of the situation. To be fair, the amount of time spent imprisoned will be decided by the judge who can completely waive it or push the full 12-month sentence.
  • Costs anywhere from $300 to $1,000. There will also be 20-40 hours of community service assigned to the driver.

The Second Offense

If a driver has not learned his/her lesson and commits the same offense again, the consequences will get worse. The revocation of the driver’s license will now go up to three years.

All of the scenarios analyzed will require the driver to pay license reinstatement fees that also do not come cheap.

Imprisonment now ranges from 90 days to 12 months, and 72 hours is mandatory if this is the second DUI the driver got in a 10-year period. Flat fine increases to a minimum payment of $600 which is twice the amount it was for the first offense.

The maximum paid is still limited to $1,000.

The largest difference between the penalties comes from all the additional steps one must take to address the issue. First, their picture must be published in the local newspaper which somewhat serves as a shaming tactic.

Furthermore, the driver must do an evaluation and treatment program as well as DUI school that is mandatory.

The community service requirement now goes from 40 hours to 30 full days.

Lastly, the driver will have to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicle. This means that they will have to blow in it every time before starting their vehicle in order to be able to actually ignite it. The amount of time an IID must stay on is six months.

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The Third Offense

Unlike the first two violations, the third one will be treated as a high and aggravated misdemeanor. This increases all the penalties significantly, as it will be shown.

Driver’s license will get suspended for five years and he/she will be facing minimum prison time of 120 days. The only way that this sentence can be probated is possible if this is not at third offense in the same 10-year period. If that is the case, the minimum incarceration is 15 days.

Fine ranges from $1,000 all the way to $5,000 and the community service required is a minimum of 30 days.

The driver will again have to install an IID device and use it for six months as well as attend a DUI school. His/her photo will once again be published in the local newspaper.

The Fourth Offense

If the same driver gets a DUI four times, this starts being the time when his sanity is heavily questioned. The classification of this is now a felony that will permanently change the life of this individual who has not been able to learn a simple lesson.

Prison time goes from one to five years, although it can be probated a minimum of 90 days. Fines required will be anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, the same as it was during the third offense. It is to be expected that the amount will be closer to $5,000 in this case though.

The community service required, after one gets out of prison, is a minimum of 60 days that can be waived if three years were spent in jail. The driver will be responsible for installing an Ignition Interlock Device and all the costs that come with it.

It will have to stay in the vehicle for six months minimum.

Will My Auto Insurance Rates Go Up After a DUI in Georgia?

The driver’s with a DUI will face multiple consequences that may not be directly disclosed. One of them is the fact that this violation will be on their record for a period of 10 years. This time frame is what is known as the look-back or the washout period.

Although it may not appear as serious as jail time, having a DUI is the worst nightmare for someone looking for auto insurance. Companies will evaluate these drivers as high-risk ones who will have to pay higher premiums. Drivers with a DUI on their record may have to pay auto insurance rates 80 percent higher than someone who doesn’t have a DUI conviction.

Reinstating the Driver’s License

When driving privilege gets relocated or the Driver’s License is suspended, the driver will have to go through multiple steps to restate it. Insurance companies will require a form known as the SR-22.

This is a form that the insurance companies must file to prove that driver is financially responsible and his.her auto insurance liability is in effect.

How does an Ignition Interlock Device help?

As discussed, repeated offenders in Georgia will have to install an IID in their car. The purpose of this is to make it impossible for them to drive when impaired, thus reducing the risks they expose others and themselves to.

It can also enormously help the drivers stay away from further offenses as they will be unable to ignite the vehicle when they are deemed drunk.

Ultimately, driving is not something that everyone has a natural right to do. It requires a qualified individual who has passed the necessary examinations and real-life tests.

Exposing other people to danger due to irresponsible actions such as drunk driving is incomprehensible.

When obtaining a driver’s license, regardless of the state, every person should make it clear to themselves that a vehicle is a means of transportation just as much as a killing machine.

When a car falls into the wrong hands, it becomes a heavy tool that can take lives. This is why responsible choices should always trump convenience!

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  1. https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html
  2. https://www.responsibility.org/media_center/state-drunk-driving-u-s/
  3. http://www.statemaster.com/graph/trn_lic_dri_tot_num-transportation-licensed-drivers-total-number
  4. http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/increased-penalties-for-high-blood-alcohol-content.aspx
  5. http://www.dui.co/georgia-dui-penalties.html
  6. https://dds.georgia.gov/reinstatement-faqs-driving-under-influence-dui-first-offense-drivers-age-21-and-over
  7. http://www.sr22insurance.net/dui-state-laws/

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