Talk To A DUI Defense Lawyer About Penalties In Georgia

Talk To A DUI Defense Lawyer About Penalties In Georgia

Experienced Georgia DUI defense lawyer, Joshua J. Smith understands Georgia laws regarding DUI and explains the seriousness and life altering consequences of a conviction for DUI in today’s blog.

DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, is a serious charge that can have life-changing implications. A DUI is for both alcohol or substance abuse impairment. Georgia has severe penalties for a DUI conviction. Even just being arrested and charged can mean the immediate loss of your driving privileges. According to Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS), a DUI suspension, if the first offense in 5 years, will be a suspension for 12 months. At the end of 120 days of a suspended driver’s license, a person can apply for reinstatement if they have met certain requirements including successful completion of a DDS approved DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program.

A conviction for a DUI in the state of Georgia includes substantial penalties that include significant fines, jail time, substance abuse counseling, and community service. The penalties for a felony DUI conviction are much harsher than a misdemeanor conviction, including fines up to $5000, imprisonment for one to five years, and at least 60 days of community service unless sentenced to 3 years in prison.

Life Altering Effects

We haven’t even begun to talk about the consequences for having a criminal record and a DUI conviction specifically. A criminal record follows you around affecting your ability to obtain a loan, or qualify for housing, or get a job. Forget about becoming a commercial driver or obtaining any employment where driving may be required. A DUI conviction does not “fall off” your record, nor can you request an expungement (removal), so we highly recommend that you do not plead guilty and take the conviction even if it is a misdemeanor. The consequences are long-term and can impact you for the rest of your life.

A DUI is also considered by society as a mark of poor character and irresponsibility. Personal relationships may be affected as well as damage to your reputation and self esteem. You may suffer from depression or anxiety disorders as a result. You may find it hard to complete your education or excel in your career.

You only have one chance to get a successful outcome. That’s why you need a Georgia DUI defense lawyer with substantial experience with DUI cases to get the best possible outcome. The goal is to avoid conviction. While that is being accomplished, if you do have a substance abuse problem, then you can privately arrange to get the help you need through counseling, AA, or other support services.

Penalties in Georgia

Mandatory requirement for a Georgia DUI school: DUI school is a course in DDS approved DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program and is a minimum of 20 hours in person attendance, and will cost you approximately $360. If you do not finish, there is no refund, you must sign up again and pay again, and failure to complete the requirement comes with further penalties.

License suspension for a minimum of one year: You can apply for reinstatement of the license after 120 days provided that you have present a Certificate of Completion of a DDS approved DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program, and pay all reinstatement fees. If you are caught driving on a suspended license, additional punishment will be given.

Mandatory Jail Time: Mandatory jail time is up to one year for first-time offenses. Felony DUI offenses up to five years jail time.

Mandatory Probation: Mandatory one-year probation minus the days in jail for misdemeanor offenses for the first DUI. Four or more DUI convictions in a ten-year period brings mandatory five years’ probation minus days spent in jail.


  • For the first DUI conviction, the fines are from $300 to $1,000 (2nd and 3rd DUI convictions are fined accordingly)
  • For a fourth DUI conviction, the fines are up to $5,000 plus additional surcharges

Required Community Service:

  • For the first DUI conviction, 40 hours of community service is required
  • For the second or subsequent DUI convictions, that number jumps to 240 hours of required community service

Ignition Interlock Device

For a second or subsequent DUI, an ignition interlock device is required for each vehicle you own once your driving privileges have been restored and you pay all related expenses for the device. If a judge sees fit, they may order an ignition interlock device for a first DUI offense.

Related Charges

Driving while under the influence can also bring about other crimes such as speeding, vandalism, or in the worst case scenario, if you cause an accident in which someone dies, vehicular manslaughter or other homicide charges. Poor decision making is often a part of being impaired by drugs or alcohol and you could take actions that get you charged with additional criminal offenses.

Your License and Driving Privileges

Once arrested for DUI, your license will be suspended under the Georgia Administrative License Suspension (ALS) law. You can file an appeal within 10 days to have the suspension rescinded, and your DUI defense lawyer may be able to negotiate the termination of the suspension. If you are caught driving on a suspended license, your vehicle will be impounded, and additional criminal charges filed against you with mandatory jail time if convicted.

Commercial Drivers License (CDL) holders face a one-year suspension for the first DUI and a lifetime suspension for the second.

Other Consequences

Insurance: A DUI changes the way insurance companies see you. Now, you’re a “high-risk,” so you’ll have trouble finding insurance of all kinds—including life and health insurance. Your auto insurance carrier has the choice of raising your rates considerably or canceling your policy altogether.

Employment: If you are currently employed, chances are you must disclose the DUI conviction to your employer. Depending on what you do for a living, you may be disqualified from your job or lose your professional license. Alternatively, your company may terminate your employment for having a DUI, or for any kind of arrest.

Finding employment may be challenging. You need to disclose a criminal record and that may cause a prospective employer from hiring you. Also if you can’t drive to work, you must rely on your feet, public transportation, paying for taxis or rideshares, or friends or family to drive you. The inability to get to work on time or reliably is often grounds for dismissal. Additionally you will be ineligible for many vocations after a DUI, such as teaching. Members of the military may have promotions delayed and other disciplinary actions.

You Have Rights

If you are pulled over for suspicion of a DUI, do not make any explanations or statements to the officer about your situation. You are likely not going to be able to “talk your way out of this” so the less said, the better. Be courteous and provide necessary identification, registration, and proof of insurance but do not offer excuses. They are already suspicious and will be looking for you to make any possible incriminating statements. After the arrest, just be patient and wait till you get your attorney. Let your attorney handle any statements or questioning on your behalf. The Sixth Amendment guarantees the rights of criminal defendants, including the right to a lawyer.

Contact Joshua J. Smith, DUI Defense Lawyer In Dalton, GA

As you can see the consequences you face with a DUI conviction are plentiful and frankly frightening. You need to fight any charge of a DUI rigorously and to do that you need the services of an experienced and reliable DUI defense lawyer. That’s where our office comes in if you are charged in our neck of the woods.

As a DUI defense lawyer serving Dalton and the surrounding communities and counties, attorney Joshua Smith has the knowledge, experience, and skill to help you fight your DUI charges and protect your rights. With your reputation and freedom on the line, you need Joshua Smith in your corner. Our winning law firm does the right things first in the pursuit of justice for our clients. Smith proudly states of his work ethic, “I work seven days a week. I don’t work Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. I don’t play golf. I don’t goof off. I work.” Let him and our staff work for you.

Contact the offices of Joshua J. Smith, Attorney at Law by calling us at (706) 217-2095 or filling out our contact form.


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