William Long Whitesell, L.L.C.

Georgia DUI charges carry hefty penalties

Some people believe that first time offenders facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Georgia will be treated with leniency. After all, everyone makes mistakes. However, this misconception about the criminal law system could end up costing you a lot, even your job.

The state of Georgia takes all DUI offenses very seriously, and so should the people who are facing DUI charges. If you or someone that you love is facing a DUI charge, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands Georgia state laws regarding driving while under the influence.

There are a number of reasons why a person who wasn't drinking could face criminal penalties. Some people have a condition called auto-brewery syndrome, where bacteria in the digestive tract turn sugars into ethanol. Others could have as-of-yet undiagnosed diabetes, which could result in acetone present in the breath. This could create a false positive on a breathalyzer.

Your attorney can help you by reviewing the details of your case and determining if an outside medical opinion could improve your chances of a positive outcome in court. An attorney's help is invaluable, particularly without a medical defense.

Georgia penalizes DUI offenders to deter future offenses

First time offenders shouldn't expect leniency. The courts take a dim view of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Harsh sentences, often the legal maximum penalty, are intended to deter offenders and others from getting behind the wheel while under the influence.

With your first offense, you could end up in jail for as much as a year, owe a fine of between $300 and $1,000 lose your license for a year and need to complete at least 40 hours of community service. When you want your license back, you'll be required to pay a $210 fee to have it reinstated.

For those with a second offense within five years of the first, the penalties include at least 48 hours in jail, with future incarceration of 90 days to a year possible. The fine increases to between $600 and $1,000. You're also expected to perform 30 days of community service, and you could lose your license for up to three years.

For those with a third offense within five years of the second, penalties increase to at least 15 days in jail, a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000, loss of your license for five years, the publication of your picture in the paper (at your expense) and mandatory clinical evaluation for substance abuse.

An attorney can help when you're facing a DUI

Whether it's your first offense or your third offense, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney when charged with a DUI. Your lawyer can review the details of the case and help you determine your best options for defense.

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