Wondering, what happens with your first DUI in Atlanta? Do you get 12 months of probation or jail time after your first driving under the influence charge?
Georgia DUI laws are strict, even for first-time offenders. If the state charged you with a DUI, you should be aware of the penalties you may face.
A DUI attorney can help you navigate the complicated state laws. The LaScala Firm will fight for reduced fines and sentences on your behalf. As a former prosecutor, Michael LaScala knows the local and state laws and how to handle DUI cases. Call (404) 881-8866 for a free consultation from The LaScala Firm.
What the State and Georgia Department of Driver Services Considers Impaired Driving
To drive in Georgia, you must have a valid license. A license gives you driving privileges to operate a vehicle on public roads.
However, Georgia drivers’ licenses come with the condition that you must submit to a breath test if a police officer suspects you of impaired driving. If you refuse to take the test, the State of Georgia can take your license away through the Administrative License Suspension (ALS) Process.
The state can charge you with a DUI if any alcohol, drug, or controlled substance impaired your ability to drive. The state will automatically suspend your license if:
- You have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.02 percent or higher and you are younger than 21.
- Your BAC is 0.08 percent or higher and you are age 21 or older.
- Your BAC is 0.04 percent or higher and you are a commercial driver older than 21.
- You refuse to take the DUI test.
An officer can also charge you with a DUI if legal drugs impair you. Prescription medication can interfere with your ability to drive. These DUI charges are often more difficult for the state to prove.
What Happens With Your First DUI in Atlanta?
A DUI arrest carries two separate penalties. The first one concerns your license with the Department of Driver Services (DDS). DDS may suspend or revoke your license up to a year for your first DUI offense. DSS may also require you to attend DUI school to get your license back.
The second involves criminal charges with the state. The Georgia court system judges on DUI cases and will rule on:
- Jail time – a minimum of 24 hours, and sentenced to 10 days to a year
- Probation – up to a year
- Fines – from $300 to $1,000
- Community service – up to 40 hours
- Possible alcohol and drug counseling or treatment
- DUI classes
A DUI conviction is expensive. In addition to fines, you may also need to pay for attendance for the Risk Reduction Program. You will also need to pay for your license’s reinstatement and any fees related to your probation.
As part of your limited driving permit, you may be able to install an ignition interlock device. You will be responsible for all costs associated with it.
More Serious Penalties for a First DUI
Several factors influence the penalties following your first DUI, including:
- Your blood alcohol concentration.
- Your age.
- Any damages you caused.
- Any minor passengers in your vehicle.
You will have harsher penalties if children were in the motor vehicle at the time of the arrest. The state will charge you with child endangerment, which is a separate offense. Even if it is your first DUI, the court will treat your conviction as a second offense.
If your BAC was 0.15 percent or higher, your penalties will be the same as a second DUI conviction. Penalties for second DUI convictions include:
- License suspension – up to 18 months
- Jail time – a minimum of 72 hours, and sentenced to 90 days to one year
- Probation – up to a year
- Fines – from $300 to $1,000
- Community service – a minimum of 30 days
- Mandatory alcohol and drug counseling or treatment
- Mandatory DUI classes
- Possible substance abuse treatment
You will also have higher fines and may be responsible for damages to the other parties in the event of a crash. This includes medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.
If your drunk driving causes a death, penalties can include up to 15 years in prison. Jail time for vehicular manslaughter or homicide increases if you killed multiple people. Awards from wrongful death cases can include funeral expenses, companionship loss, pain and suffering, etc.
First-time DUI Penalties for Commercial Drivers
Commercial drivers will lose their CDL for at least one year if driving a commercial vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other substances. A CDL holder may apply for a limited driving permit to drive a standard vehicle. However, the permit does not allow the operation of a commercial vehicle.
Difference Between Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol vs. Drugs
Penalties for driving under the influence of drugs are mostly the same for alcohol-related DUIs. However, if the court convicts you of driving under the influence of marijuana, you will not qualify for a limited license.
DUI cases involving illegal and legal drugs are tricky. Having a prescription for a medication does not automatically excuse you. The prosecution has to prove you were impaired.
How to Reduce DUI Penalties
Alternative sentences lessen punishments for DUI convictions. For example, in Cobb County, volunteering for a treatment-based program can reduce fines, jail time, and community service.
If you need to drive, you can fight your license suspension within 30 days of your arrest. You can file an appeal of your license suspension. You can also have an ignition interlock installed.
Your law firms’ attorney may try to reduce your DUI penalties by:
- Winning your DUI case.
- Seeking lesser charges, such as reckless driving.
- Asking for a diversion program, such as rehabilitation treatments.
It is important to know what your legal options are following a DUI arrest. Acting quickly can mean lesser penalties. Georgia has a limited time frame to apply for a limited driver’s license. Review common questions to ask an Atlanta DUI lawyer to find out more about DUI charges in Georgia. Call The LaScala Firm for a free consultation at (404) 881-8866.