Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is dangerous. To protect its citizens, Georgia laws take DUI very seriously. The state has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country.
The penalties for conviction are strict. Being convicted of drugged or drunk driving will cost you plenty of time and money and even your freedom. You can face civil penalties if you cause damage to property or injury to another person.
In Georgia, a first DUI conviction will earn you jail time. You face lengthy driver's license revocation, community service hours, fines, and court costs.
A DUI conviction stays with you and impacts your life for a long time. Below is a summary of Georgia DUI laws, including links to related resources.
Note: State laws are constantly changing through legislative, judicial, or other means. While FindLaw works hard to ensure the accuracy of its legal resources, it's a good idea to thoroughly research the law or check with an attorney to ensure you have the most recent information.
Georgia Driving While Ability Impaired
Georgia law prohibits anyone from driving or being in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while impaired by:
- Toxic vapor
- Controlled substances
- Any combination of these.
A toxic vapor is a glue, an aerosol, or something similar you might inhale to alter your mental state.
Georgia also recognizes a per se alcohol intoxication limit of 0.08% BAC level. This limit is only 0.04% for commercial drivers. A per se law is a blood alcohol content at which you are legally intoxicated. At or above this BAC level, a police officer arrests you on a DUI charge and needs no further evidence of impairment.
Georgia's DUI law is broad. You may face arrest for a DUI offense without meeting the 0.08% per se blood alcohol level. If you display impairment that makes driving unsafe, a police officer can arrest you.
Implied Consent Law
When stopped by law enforcement, they will ask you to submit to field sobriety tests and chemical tests. Under Georgia's implied consent law, law enforcement presumes you will cooperate with chemical tests. When you earn your driver's license, you have agreed to abide by the law.
Chemical tests can include a Breathalyzer or breath test, or they may ask for saliva, urine, and blood tests. These will look for other substances in your system besides alcohol.
The police officer will inform you that you have the right to refuse to submit to these tests. But there are consequences. You lose your driver's license for one year, regardless of the outcome of your DUI charge. Law enforcement can use your refusal as evidence in court. You also won't avoid a DUI charge by refusing chemical tests.
All motorists convicted of a DUI will need to undergo a clinical evaluation and possibly substance abuse treatment. Every conviction carries jail time.
A first conviction for DUI is a misdemeanor. You will serve at least 24 hours in jail, but you could receive up to one year of jail time plus probation. The judge will assess fines of $300 to $1,000. You must complete 40 hours of community service. The Department of Driver Services (DDS) will suspend your driving privileges for one year. You need to complete the DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program before you can get your license reinstated.
A second DUI conviction within a 10-year period will land you in jail for a minimum of 48 hours, with up to one year possible. Your fines will be at least $600 but may be up to $1,000. You will complete 30 days of community service. Your driver's license suspension period is three years.
A third offense and subsequent DUIs within 10 years will classify you as a habitual offender. You will need to pay to have your picture and conviction published in a county newspaper. Law enforcement will take your license plates and can confiscate your vehicle. You will serve 120 days in jail, with one year possible, and face up to $5,000 in fines. You will complete a minimum of 30 days of community service. Your driver's license suspension is for five years.
You may face an aggravated DUI under certain circumstances. These aggravating factors will increase your penalties. Other aggravating factors include:
- BAC of 0.15% or higher
- Accident causing serious injury or death
- Third or subsequent DUI convictions
Criminal penalties can include two to 20 years in jail, depending on the circumstances of your DUI case. You can expect to owe several thousand dollars in fines, plus you are liable for civil penalties for any harm or damages you cause.
Ignition Interlock Device
You may apply for a limited driving permit if you can show a need to drive. This can include a job, school, or substance abuse treatment. The DDS can limit when, where, and why you drive as a condition of the permit. You must serve some of your license suspension period, usually 120 days, before you're eligible.
You will need to install, at your own expense, an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. An IID attaches to your vehicle's ignition, and you must submit a breath test when you want to start your car. If the device detects any alcohol in your sample, it won't allow you to start your car.
As the IID can only detect alcohol, the limited permit is not available if you have a DUI drug conviction.
Under 21 DUI
Georgia has zero-tolerance laws for underage DUIs. If you're under 21 years old and caught with a BAC of 0.02% or any intoxicating substances in your system, you face arrest on a DUI charge.
It takes only a small amount of alcohol to reach a BAC of 0.02%. If your BAC is under 0.08%, you will lose your license for six months. You cannot get a limited driving permit.
As with an adult DUI, underage drivers still must serve 24 hours of jail time for a first offense, with up to 12 months possible. You face fines of $300 to $1,000. You'll need to complete at least 20 hours of community service. You will have to participate in either a DUI education course or substance abuse treatment.
If your BAC is 0.08% or more, you will face harsher punishment. You lose your driver's license for one year. You can get up to one year in jail. You will need to complete 40 hours of community service. The judge can add additional penalties and place you on probation.
Georgia DUI Resources
Charged With a Georgia DUI? Get Legal Help Today
Navigating a DUI charge is complicated. Georgia has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country, and the penalties are stiff. The effects of a conviction can last for years. A qualified defense attorney can give you legal advice and help you fight for the best outcome. Consider meeting with a Georgia DUI defense attorney today.