While Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated are considered misdemeanors in Georgia, unless there is; an accident, reckless driving, or injury to another person — the punishment often drags out, and leaves you with; community service, fines totaling in the thousands and numerous demands on your time. You may also lose your license for a year or more. All while holding down a job and finding transportation to and from your court ordered duties and meeting your assigned parole officer. If you take your case to trial and lose, you can also get time in jail added to your punishment. If you want a jury trial, a verdict can take years to be rendered.
An attorney can help you change venue, if a court has a reputation of being harsher on defendants who are proven guilty.
Things to Know
The cost of fighting a DUI can run in the thousands, while entering a plea can in some circumstances, give you a good resolution and speed up the process. The alternative is enduring penalties of the DUI which can include the following:
- License suspension or revocation
- Fines and varying court costs.
- Possible jail time.
- DUI school and associated costs.
- Meeting with a probation officer once a month and paying a fee.
- Points that will likely increase the cost of car insurance.
- A record that stays with you and often is required to list on job applications.
- Ignition interlock devices and limited driving permits (which at least, can help you keep driving).
First DUI Offense
- License suspension for 6 months (if your BAC is under 0.08%) or 12 months (if your BAC is 0.08% or higher; this is with or without an administrative license suspension).
- Automatic suspension of license if you refuse on the BAC test or ask for a different test than the officer requests you take.
- $210 fee for license reinstatement.
- DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program and all associated costs.
- A $300 – $1,000 fine.
- Mandatory 40 hours of community service.
- Possible limited driving permit. This depends on your BAC, implied consent, and whether you have an administrative suspended license.
The officer has discretion on what test to give a suspect, and refusing it or adamantly requesting a different test is considered a refusal. They can choose breathalyzer (breath test), blood test or urine test. Most of the time the officer will choose a breathalyzer for alcohol, and may choose the others for identifying other drugs or narcotics. Certain prescription drugs can also get you in trouble if they have warnings against driving. Refusing a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) test falls under ‘Implied Consent’ which you signed when you received or renewed your driver’s license, and means you will immediately lose your license for a year or more. Insisting on another test the officer is not providing is also seen as a refusal.
If you refuse a chemical test like a breathalyzer, the officer can arrest you and subpoena for the results. If you are under 21, or on probation, they have the right to make you take chemical tests. If you refuse these tests, you are likely to have your driver’s license revoked for at least a year.
You can file for a hearing, within ten business days or delivering your payment to GA DDS headquarters at 2206 East View Parkway, Conyers, Georgia 30013. Call 678-413-8400 for information about the status of your license.
There are flaws in the law supporting BAC tests which can prevent it from being used as evidence in a courtroom. The officer is not allowed to coerce you to take it. However, you risk being in a “he-said, she-said” argument with a police officer who’s likely been to court more than you.
The Sobriety Test
The sobriety tests were created based on a group of college students, in the middle of the day and have not been corroborated by an independent testing. They will only be used as circumstantial evidence against you. Unlike the BAC test, you are not required to take them. If you do, and you fail the test, then you may have to hire an expert witness to refute. Use your best judgement; are you well rested, it isn’t 3 am, you don’t have allergies or contacts annoying your eyes and you have reasonably good coordination? You might be fine. However, if the officer has you taking the sobriety test, they likely already think you are drunk, so can you depend on their impartiality when conducting a Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nystagmus), when it measures how smoothly your eye tracks a light?
DISCLAIMER: The information herein is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For any legal matters, you are urged to take the advice of an attorney familiar with your case.
DISCLAIMER: The information herein is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For any legal matters, we urge you to take the advice of an attorney familiar with your case.