As leading DUI lawyers in Georgia, we know that just because you were arrested doesn’t mean you’re guilty. If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence, you need to launch an aggressive defense—and we can help. Contact us online to schedule a consultation.
Maybe you were tired after a long day of work and fell asleep at the wheel. Or maybe you were sobering up in a parked car after one too many drinks. Whatever circumstances precipitated your DUI charge, one thing’s for sure—your future is on the line.
Now, you have to make a critical decision: How should you plead? Although it’s tempting to just cooperate with police and plead guilty, you need to understand that doing so can incur steep penalties in Georgia. Even if you’re not totally blameless, you still have rights—and exercising them may be the best way to protect your future.
At Joseph Williams Law, we believe that every Georgian who’s been charged with a crime deserves a robust defense. Before you waive your rights, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to get a better understanding of what you’re up against.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Georgia, you may be feeling embarrassed, isolated and afraid. However, your situation is far from hopeless. This article will explain everything you need to know about DUI charges in Georgia, possible defenses and how our law firm may be able to help you wipe the slate clean.
Has a DUI charge turned your life upside down? Don’t let an accusation jeopardize everything you’ve worked for. A Georgia DUI lawyer can explain your rights and chart a way forward. Get in touch with us online to set up a case evaluation or give us a call at (912) 259-6548 today.
Why Hire a Georgia DUI Lawyer?
Sometimes you don’t realize everything you have to lose until you’re on the verge of losing it. That’s certainly the case when it comes to DUI convictions in Georgia.
Make no mistake: A DUI conviction is much more than a slap on the wrist. If you’re found guilty of driving under the influence (or plead guilty to a DUI) in Georgia, you could be facing jail time, fines and the suspension of your driver’s license for up to a year. You may even lose your job and have your professional license revoked.
Even after you’ve paid the price for your actions, a DUI conviction can continue to haunt your life and do untold damage to your reputation. It can negatively affect your marriage, family ties, business connections and friendships, as well as sully your image in the eyes of your community.
That’s a high price to pay for any mistake, especially one you didn’t mean to make or didn’t make at all. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be your future when you partner with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Driving under the Influence in Georgia
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense that can result in a variety of penalties. According to Georgia’s DUI laws, it is illegal to drive or be in physical control of a vehicle in the the following circumstances:
- You’re the driver of a personal vehicle who is 21 or older and has a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.
- You’re the driver of a commercial vehicle who is 21 or older and has a BAC of 0.04% or higher.
- You’re a driver who is under the age of 21 and has a BAC of 0.02% or higher.
- You’re a driver who is under the influence of any alcohol, drug or controlled substance.
- You’re a driver who has any amount of marijuana or illegal drugs in their blood or urine.
Any driver who is less safe to drive due to the use of drugs or alcohol is considered to be under the influence. It’s important to note that if a person’s driving isn’t technically impaired, they can still be charged with a DUI if their BAC is 0.08% or higher.
Georgia’s DUI Penalties
If you’re convicted of a DUI in Georgia, a judge will order your fines and jail time based on statutory guidelines. While some penalties apply to every DUI conviction, others are established according to how many DUI convictions you’ve had in the last 10 years.
Here’s a breakdown of possible penalties, based on your conviction history:
- First-time offenses can incur 10 days to one year in jail, $300 to $1,000 in fines and a minimum of 20 hours of community service (or 40 hours for drivers whose BACs tested at 0.08% or higher).
- Second-time offenses can incur 90 days to one year in jail, $600 to $1,000 in fines and a minimum of 30 days of community service.
- Third-time offenses result in 120 days to one year in jail, $1,000 to $5,000 in fines and a minimum of 30 days of community service.
All DUI offenders, regardless of conviction history, will be placed on one year of probation. They will also be required to complete an alcohol and drug clinical evaluation and follow any recommended treatment programs. Additionally, any driver convicted of a DUI while transporting a minor can also be charged with child endangerment.
Second-time DUI offenders are required to complete a DUI alcohol or drug use risk reduction program and must surrender their license plates until their driver’s license is reinstated. Lastly, drivers facing a third-time conviction, may be forced to forfeit their vehicle to be sold.
Felony DUI Charges in Georgia
Most DUIs are considered misdemeanors in Georgia. However, the following scenarios can elevate DUIs to felony status:
- The current offense is the driver’s fourth or subsequent DUI conviction in 10 years.
- The driver attempts to evade the police while driving under the influence.
- The driver seriously injures or kills another person while driving under the influence.
Felonies are considered more serious than misdemeanors, and as a result, their punishments tend to be more severe. If convicted of a felony DUI, you will be sentenced to a minimum of one year in prison.
DUI Defense Lawyer in Georgia
The penalties for various DUIs are not arbitrary; they are severe because the crime is serious. People who drive while under the influence may end up causing property damage, as well as injury and death to themselves and others. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone who’s charged with a DUI offense deserves to be convicted.
Possible DUI Defenses
After reviewing your situation, a DUI lawyer will select the best strategy to defend your future. Your defense could include any of the following arguments:
- You were pulled over without probable cause or reasonable articulable suspicion.
- The results of your field sobriety test were inaccurate or inconclusive.
- You have a medical condition that makes passing a field sobriety test especially difficult.
- The results of your breathalyzer test were skewed because you had recently used an oral hygiene product, or because of a test malfunction.
- You were arrested for a DUI without probable cause of impairment.
- The arresting officer wasn’t certified, had a prior disciplinary record or displayed problematic behavior during your stop.
Once in court, your Georgia DUI lawyer will provide the necessary evidence to support your defense and make compelling arguments on your behalf. In many cases, a DUI attorney can get your charges reduced, and in some cases, they can get them dismissed altogether.
Georgia DUI Defense FAQs
If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence, you probably have a lot of questions. The best way to get answers is by speaking with a Georgia DUI defense attorney. In the meantime, read through the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.
• What does it mean to be in “actual physical control” of a vehicle?
Although driving under the influence is illegal in every state, only some states consider being drunk behind the wheel of a parked car as grounds for a DUI, and Georgia is one of them.
However, determining whether an intoxicated person is in “actual physical control” of the vehicle isn’t necessarily straightforward. It will depend on a number of factors, including the location of the driver, their car and their keys, as well as whether the engine was running and whether the driver was awake or asleep.
• Can I refuse a breathalyzer test?
Most people don’t realize that the breathalyzer test and the breath test are two different things. Georgia drivers are not required to take a roadside breathalyzer test (which has the potential to provide inaccurate results).
However, Georgia law says that a driver gives their implied consent to taking an approved chemical or physical breath test and urine test simply by exercising their privilege to drive. Although you can refuse this test, it will result in the immediate suspension of your license.
• Can I be charged with a DUI in Georgia for drugs?
Yes, you can be charged with a DUI for drugs in Georgia. Contrary to popular belief, the drugs in question do not have to be illegal in order for you to be charged with a DUI. They can also be prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs—anything that impairs your ability to drive.
• What is a 30-day letter?
If you are arrested for a DUI in Georgia, you will have 30 days to appeal the automatic suspension of your driver’s license. The 30-day letter is your official request for an Administrative License Suspension (ALS) hearing to prevent this suspension.
Joseph Williams Law: Trusted DUI Defense Lawyers in Georgia
If you’re on the fence about hiring a Georgia DUI lawyer, remember: It’s much easier to fight a charge than it is to expunge a conviction—or to endure a lifetime of penalties for a conviction you didn’t deserve. When you’re ready to face your legal situation head-on and protect your future, the smartest thing you can do is contact an experienced DUI lawyer in Georgia.
Fortunately, Joseph Williams Law is right around the corner. When you’re ready to take control of the situation and fight for your rights, we’re here to lead the way. Contact us online to schedule an initial consultation or give us a call at (912) 259-6548 to speak with one of our criminal defense experts today.
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