In Georgia, DUI Consequences Can Be Serious

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If this is the first time you've been arrested for a DUI in Georgia, you are facing a range of consequences. Initially, it can be difficult to get a handle on what those consequences are likely to be when you first start researching because the law is written in a way that can be challenging to decipher. For example, it is possible to serve 12 months in jail on a first arrest. However, the reality is that many people never have to return to jail as a result of their first DUI arrest.
How can this be? The reason for the range of possible jail time is that the law permits a judge to choose between the minimum (one day) and the maximum allowable jail sentence. And while most courts do not require lengthy jail sentences on a first DUI, every court has a unique way of handling DUIs and as a result, it can be tricky trying to find out exactly which consequences you will be facing when you first start doing research.
Although the specific outcomes will vary, as a general rule, the most common consequences for a first DUI or a reduced charge of Reckless Driving include:
  • At least 12 months probation (visit probation officer once per month)
  • Fine of $300-$1000 plus surcharges (note that surcharges may nearly double the fine amount)
  • 40-100 hours of community service at a non-profit (501(c)(3)) of your choosing
  • DUI School
  • MADD Victim Impact Panel
  • Drug and Alcohol Evaluation plus any additional recommended treatment
  • License suspension for a DUI (will vary depending on age, whether the test was refused, and other circumstances)

As you get ready to talk about your case with lawyers, you should prepare a list of questions that you are most concerned about so that you can get helpful advice about what to expect in your case.

Some frequent questions and concerns are:

  • How much jail time can I expect in this court if I enter a plea to DUI or Reckless Driving?
  • What are the immediate license consequences while this case is pending?
  • What are the license consequences if I am convicted of DUI or Reckless Driving?
  • What if my license is from another state other than Georgia?
  • Am I eligible for the Ignition Interlock Device to avoid a license suspension, and if so is it a good idea?
  • Do I have to tell my employer about the arrest?
  • Will my professional licensing board (e.g. nurse, doctor, lawyer, pharmacist) take action against me as a result of this arrest?
  • Can I travel outside the state or country while my case is pending?
  • What are the insurance consequences of this arrest?
  • If I am already on probation, what can I expect to happen as a result of this new arrest?
  • Can I drive rental vehicle?
  • How long will this case take to resolve?
  • What are the challenges or advantages of my case given the circumstances surrounding my arrest?
  • Should I attend DUI School and start community service now or wait until later?


To Speak With Attorney Erin Gerstenzang

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Often, in Georgia, when you are arrested for DUI, you will receive a DUI "less safe" ticket along with a DUI "per se" ticket. Sometimes it will simply state 40-6-391(a)(1-5). This can be quite confusing and unsettling because upon initial inspection it would appear as if you now are charged with more than one crime. It is highly unlikely you have been charged with more than one DUI; rather, the multiple tickets merely refer to the multiple ways the prosecutor may attempt to prove the single act of impaired driving.
For instance, the prosecutor can go forward with a charge even without a breath, blood or urine test. In the absence of a chemical test (blood, breath or urine), the prosecutor would likely pursue a "less safe" DUI.
In Georgia, you may be convicted of DUI if the prosecutor can prove that, as a result of alcohol or drug consumption, you were rendered a "less safe" driver. A person is DUI "less safe" when he or she is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs to a degree which renders the driver incapable of driving safely.
In a typical "less safe" case, prosecutors will attempt to prove their cases by pointing to the initial driving (weaving, speeding, failure to maintain lane); manner of speech (slurring, mumbled); odor of alcohol; balance issues; and field sobriety tests.


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If you took a breathalyzer,  blood, or urine test then the prosecutor will often attempt to prove the DUI in two separate ways. First, the DUI "less safe” evidence which is usually a collection of general observations like speech and balance along wit performance on the field sobriety tests. Second, the prosecutor will offer proof that in addition to being “less safe” the driver was also over the legal limit.
In Georgia, you may be convicted of a "per se" DUI if the prosecutor successfully proves you were over the limit within three hours after driving stopped (from alcohol consumed previously). If you’re in Atlanta, you should have received a copy of your breath test result from your arresting officer.


10.2015 Web Images Updates.005Often people get very nervous when they see that they are charged with a drug-related DUI. Just because the officer wrote you a ticket for DUI drugs, or the prosecutor added a drug charge to your accusation, does not mean there is any evidence of drugs.

Rather, this is a manner of charging every possible type of DUI so that their case isn't later dismissed on a technicality because they forgot to charge you in a manner appropriate to the facts of your case.

As a matter of general practice, some prosecutors and officers charge every person arrested for DUI in Atlanta with every type of related offense to avoid such a mistake.

While it may protect the prosecutor or police officer, it can often be very awkward to explain to an employer why your background check has revealed a pending DUI drug charge.

Talk to Attorney Gerstenzang to see if she can provide your employer with the materials necessary to explain why this has happened in your case.

What Will Happen to My License After Being Arrested for DUI and What is a 30-day Letter?

10.2015 Web Images Updates.001For most individuals subjected to a first DUI arrest, the length of a potential suspension will depend on whether you refused to take the officer’s test. In all likelihood, the officer issued you a 1205 form, which may serve as your license for the next 30 days.

When you are arrested in Atlanta, two simultaneous legal actions are initiated against you. The first is that you are formally charged with a crime. The DUI ticket(s) will be filed in the criminal court and you will be ordered to appear on a specified date for your arraignment.

The second legal consequence occurs when the officer issues you a 1205 form initiating a license suspension action against you. If we do not take any steps to oppose the suspension, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended after those initial 30 days.

That notice also includes fine print putting you on notice that you have 30 days to appeal the suspension. It is normally imperative that we act quickly to send in this letter with the required $150.00 fine. Otherwise, your license may be suspended after the 30 days.

If you refused the officer’s test at the time of arrest, then you face a much more serious suspension than had you submitted. If this is your first time being arrested, you could be subjected to a 1-year “hard” suspension. There is no work permit available for this type of suspension.

Atlanta Lawyer Erin Gerstenzang

Some drivers who are facing a lengthy suspension may elect to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle and avoid the suspension altogether. The 30-day time limit applies as well

If you took the officer’s test, and this is your first arrest, then you may only be facing a 30-day suspension, with eligibility for a work permit.