DUI FAQs

Q: What are the two ways in which Georgia law can consider you in violation of DUI laws?

One way is by having a police officer determine that you are in violation of DUI law through observation of your erratic driving and a field sobriety test. The other way, known as DUI “Per Se”, is determined by a chemical test of your breath (breathalyzer), blood, or urine that shows an elevated level of alcohol or the presence of drugs in your body.

Q: What is a field sobriety test?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has established three means of evaluating your sobriety, or lack thereof. These include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the Walk and Turn, and the One-Leg Stand. Though commonly used, these tests are fairly easy for your lawyer to question since imbalance or inability to hold a gaze may result from other causes.

Q: What does The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) have to do with DUI?

If you are arrested for DUI in Georgia, the DDS will handle your license suspension regarding implied consent laws. The criminal courts will handle your criminal penalties. These two agencies work separately and what happens in one will not impact the other.

Q: What is Implied Consent?

In Georgia, it is assumed that if you are driving and legally stopped by the police who suspect you of DUI, you have given “implied consent” to be chemically tested for the presence of alcohol or other impairing substances in your body through either a breathalyzer or a test of your blood or urine. However, it should be noted that you have a statutory and constitutional to refuse this testing.

Q: What happens if I refuse to submit to chemical testing for DUI?

If you refuse to submit to chemical testing, your license will be suspended for 1 year (Administrative License Suspension) unless your attorney files an appeal within 30 days of your arrest. This is known as the 30-Day Rule.

Q: Does the officer have to read me my Miranda Rights immediately?

No, not most of the time. Law enforcement officials have the right to give you a field sobriety test without reading you your Miranda Rights. Only after you have been taken into custody are they required to read you your Miranda Rights before asking you relevant questions.

Q: Is everyone held to the same standard of BAC?

No. For the average adult, the level at which DUI is established is 0.08 percent or more. For commercial drivers, however, the standard is stricter: 0.04 percent. Also, under Georgia’s Zero Tolerance policy, designed to discourage drinking and driving at a young age, anyone who is under the age of 21 and has a BAC of 0.02 is considered to be Driving Under the Influence.

Q: What does BAC mean?

BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Content.

Q: What are the penalties for DUI in Georgia?

Depending on the particular circumstances of your case, there are numerous possible penalties for DUI in Georgia, including: fines, imprisonment, license suspension or revocation, community service, DUI education or drug treatment (for which you must pay), required use of an ignition interlock device, probation or parole, publication of your name, address, and photo in a local newspaper and surrender of the tag for your vehicle.

Q: What circumstances will make my case harder to defend?

Not only will the following result in other charges besides DUI, but they will also likely lead to harsher punishments: multiple DUI convictions, a hit and run accident or one involving a school bus, driving with a child under the age of 14 in your car, fleeing from a police officer, or resisting arrest.

Q: If my BAC is above the acceptable limit will I automatically be found guilty of DUI?

Not necessarily. A sharp attorney may be able to mount a vigorous defense. For example, he or she may question the timing of the test, the method or precision of the equipment used to take it, and/or the handling of specimens once they were obtained.

Q: What if I am impaired by a substance other than alcohol?

The DUI laws of Georgia apply not only to alcohol, but to illegal drugs, prescribed medications, and over-the-counter substances, such as painkillers, inhalants, sleeping medications, and cough syrups. In addition to learning the signs of alcohol intoxication, Georgia police are trained to notice signs of drug abuse.

Q: Can I be arrested for DUI if I have only taken the medication my doctor prescribed?

Yes. The fact that you have taken only medication prescribed for you by a doctor does not mean you cannot be arrested for DUI. There is always the possibility that you have taken more than the prescribed dose, not to mention that certain medications carry warnings that you should not drive while taking them.

Q: What happens if I plead guilty to a DUI in a Georgia court?

A guilty plea has the same consequences as a conviction, meaning you will now have a criminal record. Even if this is your 1st offense, you may be sentenced to up to a year in jail, a heavy fine and a license suspension for a year.

Q: Can I be arrested for DUI if my car is not in motion?

Yes. Depending on where your vehicle is located, they can use circumstantial evidence to suggest that “your vehicle must have gotten there somehow”.

Q: Can a skilled attorney make a difference in the outcome of my DUI case?

Absolutely! The attorneys at Carter Pilgrim have not only handled thousands of DUI cases successfully, but they have also handled them from both sides, meaning they are acutely aware of how the prosecution works and how to defend against it. Our team has a proud record of trying cases to an acquittal, assisting clients in getting dismissals and in negotiating plea bargains and lesser sentences. Whatever your particular case involves, our practice will bring it to the best possible resolution.