Facing your first DUI offense

If this is the first time you've been arrested for a DUI in Georgia, you are facing a range of consequences, but variables including your age, type of license and the circumstances of your arrest can all impact your case.

Atlanta DUI Lawyer Erin Gerstenzang

Understanding Georgia DUI laws

Although the specific outcomes may 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)

It’s also important to note that 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., including going forward with a charge even without a breath, blood or urine test.

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In the absence of a chemical test (blood, breath or urine), the prosecutor can 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.

If you took a breathalyzer, blood or urine test then the prosecutor will often attempt to prove the DUI in two separate ways: first with DUI “less safe” evidence referred to above, and second, with proof that in addition to being “less safe” the driver was also over the legal limit. For drivers of legal drinking age (21 or older) it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration at or above .08 percent. Lower BAC limits apply to commercial vehicles, and in the state of Georgia, the legal limit for those under 21 is .02 percent. 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.

Laws against driving under the influence aren’t limited to alcohol; you can also be charged with a DUI due to illegal, prescribed and even over-the-counter drugs. But just because the officer wrote you a ticket for DUI drugs, or the prosecutor added a drug charge to your accusation, does not always mean there is any evidence of drugs. This can be another 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. 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. An attorney may be able to provide your employer with the materials necessary to explain why this has happened in your case.

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Attorney Erin H. Gerstenzang

Criminal defense for first DUI in Georgia

Initially it can be difficult to get a handle on what exactly you’re being charged with, and thus what the consequences are likely to be 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 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.

You can rely on Attorney Erin Gerstenzang for the defense you deserve. She has successfully handled a wide variety of DUI charges in all areas, and now shares her expertise by teaching other DUI defense attorneys. While you may not fully appreciate or know an attorney’s level of skill until you see them in the courtroom, finding that they teach other attorneys is a reliable way to measure an attorney’s experience.

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What it's like to work with Erin

Absolutely the best, kindest, most upfront and caring attorney I have come across!

I called Erin for a simple consultation, and WOW, the wealth of knowledge the gave me was enough for me to go into court and represent myself effectively! She is not a crook or a scam artist out to take advantage of you, she genuinely cares about you and wants you to come out victorious, whether you do or do not use her. I highly recommend her, because not only is she sweet, kind and caring, she is upfront, honesty and to the point – exactly what a lawyer should be! She is definitely an asset to the Atlanta area attorneys and to any client who should choose to use her! There is no better option.

Best Attorney – who can empathize, understand your problems & finds best way to get you out of it – got all my charges dismissed

I was looking for an attorney who could understand my case, who will be able to effectively fight for me and get the best outcome. That’s exactly what Ms. Erin did. She got to drop all the charges including reckless driving and also got my arrest to be restricted. I highly Recommend Ms. Erin.

Pleasant, effective and efficient – thanks Erin!

I wanted the best possible legal outcome and Erin also came highly recommended through another lawyer. She was 100% worth it. Without getting into specifics, I would not have managed the same outcome if I appeared in court on my own. She knew the system, the judges, the court, etc and was extremely timely in her communications and follow-up in the lead up to my court date. Hiring was simple (electronic documents and payment); we communicated over calls and texts, without me having to meet her till the morning of my court date. She was patient in answering all of our questions and explained the legal scenarios clearly. So glad we hired her given the peace of mind and result. Thank you Erin!


If you are definitely looking for a lawyer that would represent you because they have your best interest at heart, Erin is the right person for the task. Not only would she explore and exhaust all options for your case, but she would guide you and give you feedback. She is excellent , knowledgeable, experienced and friendly. I was facing DUI and I had priors before, Erin was able to fight on my behalf and secure a favorable outcome in my case.

Great Lawyer!

Erin was amazing to deal with from start to finish. She really knew what she was doing and knew her way around the courthouse and prosecutors so that we could get the best result possible. She was very professional and communicated things to me very quickly and easily. She helped me out of a somewhat major traffic violation with only a fine. I would highly recommend her to anyone.

Stellar Lawyer

I hired Attorney Erin regarding traffic; I was so impressed with her thoroughness engagement and professionalism. She was able to get the largest charge dismissed and I paid a fine for the lesser charge. She was engaged and caring. I always knew what was going on and her prices were very reasonable. This is the lawyer to trust!

Highly recommended!

Erin is confident, competent, knowledgeable, responsive and proactive. These are the key qualities I was looking for in an attorney. She was able to answer all of my questions and managed my expectations – while I was weighing my options. I ultimately decided to take my DUI case to trial and the ruling was in my favor, icing on the cake! If you are looking for legal representation, I strongly recommend consulting/hiring Erin.

Erin saved me time, money and a whole lotta tears

Erin is top notch and made everything easy + seamless when I was feeling very frustrated and upset. I got a speeding ticket in Brookhaven and was not only thrilled with the result she achieved, but also how quickly she helped me.

As an attorney myself, I thought about handling the ticket on my own. I’m so glad I didn’t! She got me a better result than I ever could have imagined in no time. Get off the fence and contact her if you want this weight lifted off your shoulders.

Really Really Great Attorney

Let’s start by saying I was charged with D.U.I ; Marijuana possession; Single car accident on a major highway here in Atlanta; & Refused sobriety test. It didn’t matter Mrs.Gerstenzang went to work had charges reduced to Wreckless Driving with a reduced fine. No headaches of D.U.I classes, no drug evaluation; no probation.

She was Awesome! I would recommend her to represent you. Trust me.

Great Traffic Lawyer

I’ve been a lawyer long enough to know that traffic court, especially in the City of Atlanta, is a very specialized practice. Accordingly, when our son was involved in a minor traffic accident, and we did not want to have to submit to the Atlanta Traffic Court’s “Pre-Trial Intervention-Traffic” scam, we reached out to Erin to handle it. Through her knowledge of the system, the solicitors, and the judges, she got us a great result, which was certainly much better than we could have achieved on our own.

I highly recommend her.

Fantastic lawyer, best possible outcome for the case

Erin was hired for a DUI case involving prescription medication. What made the case difficult was because of certain medical issues the client was not able to participate in his own defense. Erin had to think outside the box in representing the client, which she did with great compassion and success. She did a wonderful job of keeping us informed of her plans for representation and was always available to speak to us when necessary.

In our experience Erin really went to bat for her client. If you need legal representation in this area she is the best.

The best call I ever made

I found myself in a bit of a bind and needed someone that knew the system and could respond quickly. Erin turned on a dime to get me out of the immediate situation I was in and then worked with me to resolve the larger issues with in a month. I have her number in my cell phone and gave it to my family and friends so they know who to call if something goes wrong.

Erin Saved My License!!!

I was arrested for DUI in July, and it was a very scary and stressful time. Erin was able to turn all of that around for me.

The video of my arrest was terrible…after watching what I could stomach, it was apparent that Erin had her work cut out for her. My case was very complicated, and there were several factors that made it difficult to win. In court, it was very clear that Erin is highly respected among her peers. Erin was able to guide me through this tough time, while keeping my driving status in tact, not to mention avoiding jail time! I appreciate Erin’s hard work and dedication.

Amazing Lawyer Hands Down!

Erin deserves nothing less than five stars for her intelligence, commitment, passion, and success as a lawyer. With such an abundance of passion for her practice, Erin is one of the best lawyers in town. She is caring, and can move mountains for clients. Whether I needed help day or night, she was always there for me. Law is not just a job for Erin, but it is a passion and a part of her life. Her success in her cases shows her dedication to her clients. I would recommend Erin in a heart beat to anyone who is looking for a lawyer who not only cares about winning a case, but cares about the clients future. I don’t know what I would of done without Erin by my side supporting and representing me.

Very Impressed

I was referred to Erin through my older cousin who had used her in the past for a DUI case. This was my second DUI so he recommended her as one of the best in Dekalb county. My case was a very peculiar one and there were a lot of factors involved because it involved DUI, Hit and Run and Equipment violation. Erin was able to get all my charges dropped and only have the Equipment violation. I am THOROUGHLY pleased with the gracefulness and professionalism that Erin upheld throughout the entire process. She never seemed defeated or became flustered no matter what new evidence presented itself. She was very knowledgable and I Would definitely recommend her to anyone dealing with DUI or any other criminal offense.