What should you know about drunk driving in Georgia?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2024 | DUI

Facing drunk driving charges is a serious matter in Georgia. The law provides strict criteria for what’s considered drunk driving and what penalties a person will face if they’re convicted of this offense.

For most drivers, the legal limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08%. For drivers under 21, that decreases to .02%. Commercial drivers also have a lower limit, .04%, than others. Chemical testing, including breath, blood and urine tests, are used to determine a driver’s BAC.

Criminal and administrative penalties

The penalties for a drunk driving conviction in Georgia vary depending on whether it is a first or subsequent offense. For a first-time DUI offense, penalties include:

  • Jail time of up to 12 months
  • Fines between $300 and $1,000
  • A mandatory minimum of 40 hours of community service
  • License suspension for up to one year

For second and subsequent offenses within a 10-year period, the penalties become increasingly severe. A second DUI conviction can lead to:

  • Jail time ranging from 90 days to 12 months with a 48-hour mandatory minimum
  • Fines between $600 and $1,000
  • A minimum of 30 days of community service
  • Mandatory clinical evaluation and possibly the completion of a substance abuse treatment program
  • License suspension for three years

Third and subsequent offenses are classified as high and aggravated misdemeanors, which can result in:

  • 15-day mandatory minimum in jail
  • Fines between $1,000 and $5,000
  • A minimum of 30 days of community service
  • Mandatory substance abuse treatment
  • License revocation for five years
  • Publication of the offender’s photo and details in the local newspaper

In addition to criminal penalties, drunk driving charges in Georgia result in administrative consequences. A person’s driver’s license may be suspended by the Department of Driver Services even before a criminal conviction. Drivers can request an administrative hearing to contest the suspension, but this must be done within 30 days of the arrest. Failing to request a hearing or losing the appeal means the suspension will take effect as stated.

Anyone charged with drunk driving should ensure they understand their rights. It may behoove them to work with a legal representative who can guide them through the process in pursuit of a favorable outcome.