Avoid a DUI in Georgia (5 Things You Need to Know about DUI)

To avoid a DUI in Georgia, you should know at least these five things.

       Overview

I.   DUI in Georgia
II.  Penalties
III.The Costs
IV. Sobriety Tests
V.  Avoid Arrest

I. DUI in Georgia

Driving under the influence, called DUI in Georgia, is illegal. For those 21 or older, that’s driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%% or more. And for those under 21, it’s 0.02% or higher.

Georgia has a zero tolerance policy for drivers under 21. But it doesn’t demand zero BAC (0.00%). That’s because it wants to reduce the chances of convicting innocent young drivers.

The logic is sound. First, “breathalyzers” or alcohol breath testers aren’t reliable. They don’t even measure BAC. (That requires alalysis of a sample of actual blood.) They onle estimate it. That’s why not all states permit them.

Another reason is that many medications and foods contain alcohol. Even baked goods such as bread do. A third reason is that everyone of every age produces alcohol naturally in their bodies. Naturally, this includes all drivers under age 21.

Obviously, not demanding zero BAC is wise public policy.

II. Penalties

The exact penalties imposed for DUI in Georgia vary. Many factors cause these differences. They include such things as these.

  • dui in georgia

    Please, no! Not her!

    Driver’s Age.

  • Type of license.
  • Estimated BAC.
  • The impairing substance(s)
  • Any prior DWIs.
  • Consequences of the DUI, if any (property damage, injuries, etc.)
  • Any minors in the vehicle.
  • Skill of driver’s attorney.
  • Characteristics of driver (demeanor in court, race, socio-economic status, etc.)
  • Beliefs and personality of judge hearing the case. That’s just the luck of the draw.

Some penalties are mandated, others are within ranges, and others are purely up to the judge..

Drivers Age 21 & Older

First DUI

• License suspension of up to one year.
• Fine of $300 to $1,000.
• License reinstatement fee of $210.
• Mandatory community service of 40 hours.
• DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program, for which offender must pay $355.
• Possible imprisonment for up to one year.

Second DUI within Five Years

• Imprisonment for two to 365 days.
• License suspension for 18 months to three years.
• Fine of $600 to $1,000.
• License reinstatement fee of $210.
• Mandatory community service of at least 30 days.
• DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program, for which offender must pay $355.
• Possible interlock ignition device (IID) on vehicle. An IDD prevents the vehicle from starting if alcohol is on the driver’s breath. Learn more about ignition interlock devices.

Third DUI within Five Years

dui in georgiaImprisonment for at least 15 days.
• License revocation for five years.
• Confiscation of license plate.
• Fine of $1,000 to $5,000.
• License reinstatement fee of $410.
• Mandatory community service of at least 30 days.
• DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program, for which offender must pay $355.
• Clinical evaluation and treatment.
• Status of Habitual Violator.
• Name, address, and photo published in offender’s local newspaper, for which perpetrator must pay.

Drivers Age 16-20

First DUI within Five Years

• License suspension for six months for BAC under 0.08.
• Suspension for one year for BAC 0.08 or over.
• License reinstatement fee of $210.
• DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program, for which offender must pay $355.

Second DUI within Five Years

• License suspension for 18 months regardless of BAC level.
• License reinstatement fee of $310.
• DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program, for which offender must pay $355.
• Clinical evaluation and possible treatment.

Third Offense within Five Years

• License suspension for five years.
• License reinstatement fee of $410.
• DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program, for which offender must pay $355.
• Clinical evaluation and possible treatment.dui in georgia

Drivers Age 15 and Younger

First DUI

• License suspension until age 17.
• DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program, for which offender must pay $355.
• License reinstatement fee of $210.

Second DUI

• License suspension until age 18.
• DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program, for which offender must pay $355.
• License reinstatement fee of $310.

Third DUI

• License suspension until age 18.
• DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program, for which offender must pay $355.
• License reinstatement fee of $410.

III. The Costs

Legal Defense

Getting charged with an DUI in Georgia is very expensive. It is elsewhere. And this is true even if you’re innocent. Of course, it’s even more expensive if a judge or jury convicts you.

The cost of a legal DUI defense is very hard to estimate. That’s because the complexity of cases varies widely. And more complex cases take more of a lawyer’s time. That means more money.

dui in georgiaIt’s wise to select an experienced lawyer who specializes in DUI defense. The knowledge and experience of such a lawyer is invaluable. In fact, such a lawyer may take less time.

Its obvious that simply asking lawyers how much they charge per hour isn’t helpful. It’s like asking a car dealer how much it costs to buy a car.

Other Costs

There are a number of other costs. They may include fines, court costs, property damage, medical expenses, possible loss of employment, increased insurance rates, and other expenses. The total can be high. It can easily be more than lawyer fees and expenses. Therefore, the total cost of an DUI can easily be tens of thousands of dollars.

In addition, there are non-money costs as well. They may include pain and suffering, feelings of guilt, embarrassment, driving license suspension, loss of friendships, and many others.

Knowing the high costs of a DUI is very useful. It’s a great motivation. That can help us try to avoid getting one.

IV. Sobriety Tests

Chemical Tests

dui in georgiaAll states require drivers to submit to alcohol breath tests (estimators). That, in spite of their scientifically proven unreliability.

However, all drivers have a Constitutional right to decline taking a chemical BAC test. In spite of that, the state punishes those who use their right. Using the right to decline submitting to the test triggers an automatic license suspension for one year. Also the state will not issue any limited liucense for getting to work, school, a hospital, etc.

Unlike most states, Georgia denies drivers the right to a lawyer before deciding whether or not to take a chemical test.

Field Sobriety Tests

However, no state requires drivers to take a field sobriety test. And that’s good. Simply put, field sobriety tests lack validity. That’s why about one-third of completely sober people with a 0.00% BAC fail them. And they do so under ideal conditions.

dui in georgiaNaturally, taking a field sobriety test on an uneven highway shoulder after being pulled over by police and being very nervous is far from ideal. So the “real world” failure rate for completely sober people must be much higher.

Understandably, lawyers strongly urge drivers never to submit to any field sobriety test. On the other hand, police want suspects to take them. They often falsely insist the law requires it. It doesn’t. Or they say that passing it proves you’re innocent. It doesn’t.

An officer who pulls over a driver for suspected drinking and driving is conducting a criminal investigation. The officer may legally lie to you. Remember that if you are a suspect in a crime, the police officer is your adversary.

Discover much more about field sobriety tests. You won’t be happy about what you learn. But knowledge really is power. It can help protect you. Also, learn What to Do If You Are Pulled Over.

V. Avoid Arrest

Obviously, one way to avoid a DUI is by abstaining from alcohol. Another choice is to use a Designated Driver or use public transportation.

Most drivers enjoy drinking alcohol, at least on occasion. They may lack a Designated Driver or access to public transportation. And they may be unable to afford Uber or Lynks.

So how can drivers drink before driving, yet avoid arrest? The answer is simple and legal. Maintain a low BAC. These guidelines can help keep a low BAC.

  • dui in georgia

    Standard Drinks

    Remember that standard drinks of beer, wine and spirits have equivalent amounts of pure alcohol.

  • Have no more than one standard drink each hour. Preferably less.
  • Avoid non-standard drinks. This makes it easier to keep track of alcohol intake.
  • Eat and snack while drinking. This is very important!
  • Have a non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic ones.
  • Accept an alcoholic drink only when it fits your consumption schedule.
  • Never engage in any drinking game.
  • Don’t try to “keep up” with the drinking of others.
Arrested for DUI in Georgia?

This website strongly opposes impaired driving. But it also supports the U.S. Constitution and the rights it grants both the innocent and the guilty.

If you’re charged with an DUI in Georgia, contact a lawyer immediately. The attorney should specialize in drinking and driving cases. Better yet is one whose practice is limited to such cases.

The State Bar (lawyers’ organization) of Georgia does not provide a lawyer referral service. However, it does provide resources for finding a lawyer. The Martingale legal guide offers a free on-line database with lawyers by specialty and geographic location. In addition, it provides free client and peer evaluations of each lawyer.

Don’t rely on this or any other site for legal information.

Resources

Brezina, C. I’ve Gotten a DWI/DUI, Now What? NY: Rosen, 2016.

CDC. Teen Drinking and Driving. Atlanta: 2012. (website)

___. Impaired Driving. Washington: 2018. (website)

Gillespie, L. Police Encounters. Know Your Rights. Gillespie, 2014.

Hudson, T. The Drinker’s Guide to Driving: The Secrets of DUI, From One of America’s Top DUI Lawyers. Cork: BookBaby, 2013.

Keech, C. & Fairchild, C. Dude, What are My Rights? Kansas City, MO: Keechild, 2014.

Lauterjung, L. DUI law for Drivers. How to Avoid DUI Arrests and How to Handle a DUI Stop. Lauterjung, 2012.

Nevels, T. Avoid DWI and Marijuana Charges. Cork: BookBaby, 2015.

NHTSA. Drunk Driving. Washington: 2018. (website)

Sagsletter, R. Rights During a Police Stop / DUI in the United States. What Officers Can and Cannot Do. Denver, CO: Outskirts, 2012.