Understanding DUI in Georgia: First Offense

Facing a DUI in Georgia first offense? The Atlantic Law Firm, LLC, can help. Get guidance and aggressive representation to protect your rights. Contact us today!

What Is a DUI in Georgia?

Under Georgia DUI laws, it is a criminal offense for a person to drive a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance to the extent that you are a less safe and less proficient driver, due to the consumption of any intoxicating substance.

We don’t need to tell you- a DUI offense in Georgia is a serious issue, and the consequences for a first-time DUI offense can be significant. A first-time DUI charge in Georgia can pose a wide range of challenges, which we will explore in this article.

With Stacey M. Goad’s 15 years of experience in handling thousands of DUI cases, she can easily defend your rights if you or a loved one is facing a drunk driving charge. Call us for more information.

Types of DUI Offenses

Under the Georgia Code, the state can prosecute you with a DUI offense in six ways:

DUI Less Safe

The offense of DUI less safe for alcohol in Georgia occurs when a person is in physical control of a moving vehicle while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it impairs their ability to drive safely.

It’s important to note that this offense doesn’t hinge on someone committing a “less safe” act while driving. Instead, it’s about whether the person was impaired to the point that it was less safe for them to be behind the wheel.

DUI Less Safe

Like DUI less safe for alcohol, drug DUI less safe does not require an unsafe act or a blood/urine test. Instead, it involves showing that the person was unable to drive safely due to drug influence. The same kinds of evidence are used, such as behavior, appearance, or field sobriety tests. Despite what some may think, prescriptions for drugs do not constitute defenses.

DUI Inhalants

This is usually proven through a blood test unless there’s other evidence of inhaling toxic vapor. The prosecution must prove all elements beyond a reasonable doubt, including intentional inhalation, driving under the influence, and incapability of safe driving.

Combined Influence DUI Less Safe

This is known as “combined influence” DUI Less Safe. Like other DUI Less Safe provisions, it doesn’t need a test or an actual unsafe act.

DUI Per Se for Alcohol

This is the most common DUI charge. Usually, this requires a breath, blood, or urine test to confirm that the driver has alcohol in their system.

Metabolite DUI: Driving with Measurable Amounts of Marijuana or Controlled Substances

DUI charges can result from the presence of a controlled substance, its metabolites or derivatives, in your bloodstream or urine. This offense does not require actual impairment. Very few people understand the presence of THC metabolites alone does NOT prove a person was an unsafe, less safe, or less proficient driver. Unfortunately, prosecutors are among those who rarely understand non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites may be detected for several days after consumption.  

Georgia DUI Penalties for First-Time Offenders

When someone has a first DUI offense in Georgia, they may face the following potential DUI penalties:

  • One to ten days of jail time, which is frequently waivable.

  • A probation period of 12 months

  • A minimum of 40 hours of community service

  • Substance abuse treatment program

  • Driver’s license suspension, sometimes with a limited driving permit

  • Attendance at a Victim Impact Panel for Madd Mothers

  • Participation in the DUI Risk Reduction Program, more commonly known as “DUI School.”

  • A $300 minimum fine in addition to judicial costs and surcharges.

What Is the Legal Bac Limit in Georgia?

In Georgia, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for most drivers is 0.08 grams (0.08%). This means that if you are pulled over by law enforcement, and your BAC is at or above this limit, you can be charged with DUI.

However, it’s important to note that you have a different BAC limit if you are under 21 or have a commercial driver’s license ( CDL).

For drivers below 21, the BAC is 0.02g. This is because Georgia has a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drinking. So, any detectable amount of alcohol in your system can result in a DUI charge.

Commercial drivers in Georgia are also subject to stricter BAC limits. The legal BAC limit is lower for CDL holders, set at 0.04g. Suppose a CDL holder is found to have a BAC at or above this limit while operating a commercial vehicle. In that case, they can face serious consequences, including suspending or revoking their CDL.

Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

In Georgia, you have the right to refuse a Breathalyzer test. Breathalyzer tests are a breath test law enforcement uses to measure your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). However, refusing such tests can have serious consequences.

Very few motorists know, under Georgia’s implied consent law, you have already given your implied consent to chemical testing at any time as long as you operate a motor vehicle on the state’s roadways. Had no idea? Why would you..until you’re facing a DUI.

So, if an officer has reasonable grounds to believe you are driving under the influence, they have the right to test you?

Yes.

 Refusing a test can lead to the suspension of your driver’s license.

When you refuse a breathalyzer test in Georgia, your driver’s license may be suspended for one year for a first refusal. For a second or subsequent refusal within five years, the suspension period increases to three years.

If you are arrested for DUI, it is important to understand that license suspension is an administrative penalty that is separate from any criminal charge.

What does that mean?

It means this- when you are arrested for DUI, you suddenly have TWO cases pending.  You have a criminal case for DUI and a civil case relating to your drivers license. 

If you are uncertain whether to refuse or take the Breathalyzer test, it is crucial that you speak with a DUI lawyer. The decision can have significant legal and personal implications.

How Long Does a DUI Conviction Stay On My Criminal Record?

In Georgia, a DUI conviction remains on your record forever. Georgia DUI convictions are permanent and cannot be expunged. Anyone who conducts a background check, such as potential employers, landlords, or law enforcement, can see your DUI. This can have a devastating effect on your future opportunities, making it difficult to get the job or housing that you want.

It is essential to be aware of the implications of a DUI conviction in Georgia and to take the necessary steps to protect your future by vigorously defending yourself with the help of a Savannah criminal defense attorney.

Let Stacey M. Goad, Help You

Understanding the intricacies of DUI offenses, their associated penalties, and the specific blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits is crucial in comprehending Georgia’s DUI laws. It’s vital to remember that DUI convictions are a permanent part of your record.

Facing a first-time DUI or navigating the complexities of a prior DUI on your record can be daunting. Consulting an experienced attorney could be a pivotal step. 

As a highly acclaimed attorney, Stacey brings a wealth of experience and accolades to her practice. Avvo recognizes Stacey as a Top Attorney with a perfect 10 rating, hundreds of her clients have given her Five Star Reviews, and Martindale Hubbell has recognized Stacey M. Goad as having the highest level of professional excellence earning the distinguished “AV Preeminent” rating year after year.  

Stacey’s deep understanding of Georgia’s legal system, combined with her experience as a former prosecutor, enables her to offer nuanced insights into your rights, possible defenses, and strategies to potentially mitigate the impact of a DUI conviction in Georgia.

For guidance in DUI cases, don’t hesitate to contact Stacey M. Goad today to schedule a consultation with a Savannah DUI attorney.