Like other states, Georgia relies on a variety of laws to discourage motorists from driving while drunk or high. These laws allow for penalties that can be difficult for drivers to pay. They also can lead to lengthy jail terms for repeat DUI offenders.
Avoiding a DUI in Georgia requires drivers to know what the legal blood alcohol content limits are in the state. They also can benefit from knowing about the legal punishments allowed for this crime.
DUI in Georgia
The standard definition for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Georgia is having a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent or higher. This definition applies to drivers of privately owned vehicles like passenger cars, motorcycles, and mopeds.
A separate DUI law applies to drivers of commercial vehicles because of the vehicle sizes and risk to the public. Commercial drivers must have BACs of 0.04 percent or lower to avoid this offense.
Drivers under the age of 21 also are held to a different legal standard for DUI. They can be arrested for and charged with this offense if they have BACs of 0.02 percent or higher. The underage DUI driving laws fall under Florida’s zero-tolerance for underage drinking and driving.
The state likewise uses separate criteria for aggravated driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. To be charged with an aggravated or enhanced DUI, a person must have a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher. Other circumstances that qualify for aggravated DUI in Florida include leaving the scene of an accident, having prior DUI offenses on one’s record or having a passenger under the age of 14 at the time of the DUI.
DUI Penalties in Georgia
Georgia uses a variety of penalties to address driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the state. First-time DUI convictions result in a jail term of up to one year as well as a fine of $300 to $1000. Offenders also have to perform 40 hours of community service and pay a $210 fee to get their licenses reinstated.
A second-time DUI offender can face harsher penalties if the first DUI was committed within five years of the current charge. The jail term is at least a mandatory 48 hours but can be as long as 90 days to one year.
The offender can also pay a fine of $600 to $1000 and have his or her license suspended for up to three years. He or she must perform a minimum of 30 days of community service and pay $210 to have his or her license reinstated. The offender must also complete a mandatory clinical evaluation as well as an alcohol abuse program, all of which come at the person’s own expense.
A third DUI conviction, if it occurs within five years of the last, requires a mandatory 15-day jail sentence. The fine can range from $1000 to $5000, and the person can have his or her license suspended for up to five years.
Other punishments for a third DUI conviction include:
- Mandatory 30 days of community service
- Photo and name in the offender’s local newspaper
- Declared a habitual DUI offender
- Seizure of the person’s vehicle license tag
- Mandatory clinical evaluation and completion of an alcohol treatment program
The publication of the photo in the newspaper as well as enrollment in the alcohol treatment program come at the offender’s own expense.
A fourth DUI arrest will be charged as a felony in Georgia and bring with it a five-year jail term in state prison. It also includes a fine of $5000 and a 10-year suspension of the person’s drivers’ license.
This conviction also includes many of the same penalties as a third DUI conviction including the publication of the offender’s name and address in the paper, being declared a habitual DUI offender and having to complete alcohol rehabilitation. However, a four-time DUI offender in Georgia has also labeled a lifelong felon.
Underage DUI in Georgia
Georgia has a lower BAC limit for underage drivers. They can be arrested for DUI if their BACs are 0.02 percent or higher.
If the BAC is lower than 0.08 but 0.02 percent or higher, the underage driver can have his or her license revoked for five months and be ordered to pay his or her own court costs. If the underage offender’s BAC is 0.08 percent or higher, he or she can face the same DUI penalties as an adult offender.
Implied Consent in Georgia
Drivers who operate motor vehicles and receive drivers’ licenses in Georgia give implied consent to be tested for DUI. If they are arrested for driving under the influence, they must by law provide a sample of their blood, urine, or breath to determine their blood alcohol content levels.
Implied consent applies to drivers of all ages including those who are younger than 21. Drivers must provide samples to prove that their BACs are at or under the allowable limit for their age category or classification of driver.
Refusal to provide samples of their blood, urine or breath can result in legal penalties. They cannot avoid a DUI charge by simply refusing to take the test.
In fact, they can lose their driving privileges for up to one year from the date of their refusal. They can also have their refusals to comply with the state’s implied consent law presented in court as evidence of their guilt.
Georgia strictly prohibits driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It relies on a variety of DUI laws to discourage drivers from engaging in this behavior.
Drivers who are arrested for and found guilty of DUI face a myriad of penalties. They can pay expensive fines, have their licenses suspended, perform community service and also serve lengthy jail terms.