DUI is always illegal, but in Georgia, as in other states, there are many different charges that may be applicable in your particular case.
Under Georgia law you can be charged with DUI if the prosecution can prove that you were driving after having consumed alcohol and/or drugs and were unable to drive your vehicle safely. In fact, you can be found guilty of this charge even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) registers at less than the legal limit of 0.08 percent as long as your driving was observed to be erratic or reckless or if your field sobriety tests demonstrate impairment. In Georgia, this is known as “Less Safe” DUI.
DUI “Per Se”
You can also be charged with DUI when you have been driving and, having been pulled over by law enforcement, are found to have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) over the legal limit of 0.08 percent. The level of alcohol in your body will be determined through a chemical test of your breath, blood, or urine.
DUIs Carry Two Separate Penalties in Georgia
When you are arrested for a DUI in Georgia, you will have to deal with both your criminal case and your separate license suspension. The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) will handle your license suspension pursuant to the implied consent laws. The Georgia criminal courts will take care of your criminal penalties. The decision in criminal court and the decision at the DDS are arrived at separately; one will not affect one another.
Variations in the BAC Limit
Although the BAC limit is 0.08 percent for most adults, in order to discourage young drivers from developing a habit of drinking and driving at an early age, Georgia has greatly lowered the acceptable limit for drivers under the age of 21. Under Georgia’s Zero Tolerance policy, the BAC limit for these young drivers is 0.02 percent.
Because commercial drivers are constantly on the road and drive larger, heavier vehicles than the average driver, they are also held to a stricter standard. The BAC for commercial drivers is 0.04 percent.
DUI Charges Vary According to the Number of Offenses Committed
Like most crimes, DUI is considered more serious when the offender repeatedly breaks the same law. Therefore, you can be charged with DUI as a:
- 1st Offense
- 2nd Offense
- 3rd Offense
- 4th Offense
With each subsequent conviction, the penalties increase. Also, DUI convictions stay on your driving record for the rest of your life. You should be aware that DUI convictions can lead to license suspension or revocation and/or limited driving permits, increasing high fines and court costs, DUI education or substance abuse treatment with associated costs, ignition interlock devices, jail time, and probation.
Other Offenses That Can Restrict Your Driving Privileges
Convictions for possessing, distributing, or using marijuana or any other illegal or controlled substance can lead to restriction of your driving privileges. You should also be aware that you can be charged with DUI if you are intoxicated or high and simply sitting behind the wheel of the car; you needn’t be actually driving to be found guilty of DUI if they can prove that you “were” driving at some point while impaired.
When DUI Becomes a Felony
Though usually a misdemeanor, certain circumstances can turn the DUI into a felony offense.
- When DUI is a 4th offense
- When your DUI results in serious injury of another, known as “Serious Injury by Vehicle”
- When your DUI results in the death of another, known as “Homicide by Vehicle”
As of 2008, Georgia law considers Serious Injury by Vehicle or Vehicular Homicide in the 1st degree to be felonies. Injuries categorized as “serious” include: rendering a part of another’s body useless (including causing paralysis, causing serious disfigurement or causing 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
- Habitual violators
- Hit and run accidents
- School buses
A Capable Attorney Can Make All the Difference
If you are arrested for DUI in this state, you absolutely require the services of a skilled attorney with comprehensive knowledge of DUI law in Georgia. DUI charges can be grave, and their consequences may be life-altering, particularly if this is not the first time you have been charged with this offense or if you have committed other traffic violations or crimes in conjunction with your DUI offense. If you are in this kind of a jam especially in Gwinnett or Forsyth, you should contact Carter Pilgrim where our highly qualified lawyers are eager to help you regain control of your life and resolve your dilemma in the best way possible.