Representing Clients Throughout Gwinnett County
Gwinnett County was established in 1818 on lands ceded by the Creek and Cherokee Indians through a signed treaty. The county is named after Button Gwinnett, one of the three Georgia residents who not only signed the Declaration of Independence but helped to draft the state constitution and filled the unexpired term of the governor of the state. As if to lay claim to the theatrical drama of his life, he died in a duel with General Lachlan McIntosh.
Besides its historical significance, there are many reasons visitors come to Gwinnett County: the natural beauty of Lake Lanier, the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center with all its intriguing displays and museums, including the History Museum, Hudgens Center for the Arts, the Children’s Arts Museum, and ArtWorks!, a center for artistic workshops, panels, mentoring programs, presentations and all kinds of opportunities for creative and professional development. No matter how lovely or interesting Gwinnett County is, however, it’s difficult to enjoy the countryside and points of interest if you become entangled in legal problems relating to a DUI arrest. Fortunately, if you are experiencing legal trouble in northern Georgia, the well-known, full-service drunk driving defense law firm of Carter Pilgrim, Attorneys at Law, conveniently located in Suwanee, has a highly capable team of attorneys ready to protect your rights and your freedom.
Types of DUI Offenses in Georgia
DUI is always illegal, but in Georgia, as in other states, there are many different charges that may apply in your particular case, among them:
Georgia, unlike other states, has a law on the books allowing law enforcement to charge you with DUI even when your blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the legal limit of 0.08 percent. As long as the arresting officers can attest to the fact that they observed you  driving erratically after having consumed alcohol and/or drugs and  demonstrating impairment during field sobriety tests, they have sufficient evidence to illustrate that you were unable to drive your vehicle safely and may charge you with “Less Safe” DUI.
DUI “Per Se”
If you are pulled over by law enforcement officials and found, through a chemical test of your breath, blood, or urine, to have a BAC over the legal limit, you can be legally arrested for DUI.
In Georgia, such an arrest carries with it two separate penalties: criminal prosecution and license suspension. While the former will be handled by the Georgia criminal court system, the latter will be enforced by The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS).
The legal restriction of license suspension occurs under the law of “implied consent,” a phrase that means everyone who drives has implicitly consented to be tested for alcohol and/or drug impairment. The decisions arrived at by Georgia’s criminal courts and by the DDS are entirely separate and are not affected by one another.
Variations in the BAC Limit
In addition to the exception to the BAC limit of 0.08 percent in cases of “Less Safe” DUI, there is another variation in the BAC limit made in regard to new drivers. In an attempt to protect young drivers from their own impulsivity and to keep them from getting into the potentially deadly habit of drinking and driving at an early age, Georgia’s “zero” tolerance policy sets the BAC limit for drivers under the age of 21 at 0.02 percent.
Commercial drivers also must adhere to a different standard than the drivers of automobiles. Because commercial drivers are on the road so much of the time, and because they drive much larger, heavier vehicles than the average driver, they are also held to a stricter standard. Since statistics show that truck accidents are much more likely to result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities, particularly to the drivers and passengers of cars involved in such collisions, the BAC for commercial drivers in Georgia has been set at 0.04 percent, half the typical legal limit.
DUI Charges Vary According to the Number of Offenses Committed
As one might expect, DUI, like other crimes, is considered more serious the more it is repeated. Therefore, the penalties become harsher with each offense you commit. There are increasingly higher fines and longer jail or prison sentences for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and subsequent offenses.
Penalties for DUI Offenses
You should be aware that DUI convictions stay on your driving record for the rest of your life and can lead to the following penalties:
- Court costs and attorneys’ fee
- DUI education or substance abuse treatment, including costs
- Increasingly high fines
- Ignition interlock devices
- Jail time
- License suspension or revocation
- Limited driver’s permits
DUI convictions carry with them the possibility of severe penalties that may affect your life for a long time to come in terms of schooling, employment, military service, and background checks of all kinds. This is why it is essential to have the knowledge, skill, and support of one of the experienced DUI defense attorneys at Carter Pilgrim on your team.
Driving Privileges Can Be Restricted by Other Offenses
Driving is a privilege that may be restricted or withheld from you, not only as a result of a DUI conviction, but because of a conviction for possessing, distributing, or using marijuana or any other illegal or controlled substance. A significant fact that you should be aware of is that you can be charged with DUI even if you are not driving at the time of arrest. This can happen if you are intoxicated or high and simply sitting behind the wheel of the car; you needn’t be actually driving to be found to be in control of the car. As long as the keys are in your possession, law enforcement may assume that you were driving while impaired, or that you are about to engage in this illegal activity.
When DUI Becomes a Felony
While DUI is usually considered to be a misdemeanor, certain circumstances can turn your DUI into a felony offense. If this happens, you are in serious trouble and the assistance of a sharp DUI lawyer is absolutely vital. DUI offenses become felonies when:
- DUI is your 4th offense
- DUI has resulted in “serious injury by vehicle”
- DUI has resulted in a fatality, known as “homicide by vehicle”
“Serious injury by vehicle” or “vehicular homicide” in the 1st degree have been considered felonies in Georgia since 2008. Injuries categorized as “serious” are those that: render part of the victim’s body useless (e.g. paralysis, blindness, serious disfigurement, brain damage). Other charges that result in felony charges for DUI offenses include those that involve:
- Failing to stop for police
- Fleeing from law enforcement
- Being a habitual offender
- Being involved in a hit-and-run accident
- Being in an accident with a school bus
Contact a 24-hour DUI Defense Lawyer in Gwinnett County
Being arrested for DUI can be frightening and confusing. Without a skilled legal professional at your side, the experience can be totally overwhelming. If you are arrested for DUI in Gwinnett County or the surrounding area, whether for a first offense or for a more complicated legal problem, you will find our services invaluable. Bear in mind that the consequences of your arrest may alter the course of your life. At Carter Pilgrim we are ready to help to extricate you from difficulties you face. Remember — the longer you wait to consult with us, the longer you remain in legal jeopardy. We are fully prepared to conduct in-depth investigations, confer with experts in related fields who may be helpful to your case, gather all pertinent evidence, interview any and all available witnesses, and construct a workable defense strategy. All you have to do is contact us by phone or by filling out a contact form on our website.