What are the penalties for a first offense DUI in Georgia?
From the moment you spot the flashing lights in your rearview mirror, and you know you have had more than you should to drink, fear will likely set in. Being stopped for a potential DUI is stressful, and the tension will only mount as the police officer finds evidence of intoxication. Anyone facing their first DUI charge will likely have many questions and concerns. Below, our Atlanta, Georgia DUI lawyers explore some vital facts about first offense DUIs and the penalties you could face.
First DUI Offenses Are Usually Misdemeanors in Georgia
In the state of Georgia, a first offense DUI is generally a misdemeanor. While some people may think of a misdemeanor as a minor crime, this offense can in fact carry harsh penalties. For a first DUI, you could face up to a $1,000 fine and between 10 to 12 months in jail. You may also be required to complete 12 months of probation and at least 40 hours of community service. Your driver’s license will be suspended for several months or even a year.
There are several factors that could elevate your misdemeanor DUI offense in Georgia. For instance, if you are arrested with a passenger under the age of 14, you will be charged with endangering a child. Each child in the car will amount to one child endangerment offense. Child endangerment is a separate offense from the DUI in Georgia. As such, those arrested with a child will essentially be charged with two DUI offenses. This theoretically means that if you are arrested with multiple children in the car, you could become a habitual offender subject to felony penalties.
Defending Against Your First DUI Charge
It may be tempting to take a quick plea if you have been arrested for your first DUI. Doing so could cost you in the long run, however. Your one DUI will result in a criminal record, which could impact your career. Those with jobs that require driving are especially at risk of losing their job if convicted of a DUI. Further, should you ever be arrested for a DUI in the future, you will now be looking at even more severe penalties.
Given the seriousness of a DUI conviction, it is important that you consult with a DUI defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. Your lawyer will review the charges against you and assess your ability to vigorously defend against the charges you face.