Penalties for First DUI Offense in Georgia

The Consequences of a First-Time DUI

If you are facing a DUI offense for the first time, there are a few pieces of information that you should know about the road ahead. Generally, the penalties for drunk driving vary depending on a person's criminal history and the number of previous DUIs they have.

If you are facing a DUI charge for the first time, you may be subject to the following:

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Serving Time in a Jail Sentence

A first-time DUI conviction may result in a jail sentence from 24 hours to as much as 12 months. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is shown to be above 0.08% at the time of the arrest, the law requires a minimum sentence of 24 hours. However, if your BAC is shown to be below 0.08%, a jail sentence is not required by law (though a judge may still issue one). In addition, you may face a probation period of up to 12 months. Contesting BAC tests is an effective way of fighting to reduce potential jail sentences and other punishments.

Paying Monetary Fines

Georgia law requires that individuals convicted of drunk driving pay a minimum fine of $300, to a maximum of $1,000. This amount is usually determined by a judge in court. In addition, you are also expected to pay fees associated with court procedures and other assessments. A DUI offense can amount to several thousand dollars—fighting these charges effectively with guidance from a DUI attorney in Atlanta may significantly reduce the potential cost of the ordeal.

Required Community Service

Any driver over the age of 21, and drivers under the age of 21 who test for a BAC of 0.08% or more, are required to perform a minimum of 40 hours' community service. Drivers under the age of 21 who test for a BAC less than 0.08% are required to perform a minimum of 20 hours. This is another situation where contesting BAC evidence may protect you against a severe punishment.

Driver's License Suspension

If you are convicted of DUI, your license will be suspended for a period of 12 months. This could have serious consequences to your job and severely impact your financial stability. However, Georgia law allows for individuals to seek a limited driving permit in order to drive to and from a place of employment and other occupational duties.

Keep in mind that this driving permit comes with fees. When this permit expires (which is usually after 120 days), you may be able to petition for the restoration of your driving privileges. This includes attending driving school and paying a fee to reinstate your driver's license.

After an arrest, your license may be suspended by a court conviction or a DDS license suspension hearing. Ensure your rights are protected in both situations.

Attending DUI School & Clinical Evaluation

Sometimes known as "DUI school," a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program is another required punishment for a drunk driving conviction. The course must be completed before you are able to renew your driving privileges and re-obtain a driver's license. The cost of attending these programs is approximately $250.

You are also required to undergo an alcohol/drug dependency evaluation. If this evaluation determines that treatment may be warranted, you will then be required to complete a substance abuse treatment program. Like other DUI offense punishments, this must be completed before you may fully regain your driving privileges.

DUI "Look-Back" Period

The look-back period determines the severity of some drunk driving punishments, such as license suspension. If a person has more than one DUI conviction within five years of each other, the license suspension period may be more severe. If a person has more than one DUI conviction within ten years of each other, determinations of jail time, monetary fines, community service, and other punishments may be more severe.

Don't feel overwhelmed by the situation you face—get dedicated legal counsel from our DUI defense attorneys in Atlanta. Schedule a consultation with our firm today!