What You Need to Know About Your Georgia DUI
Driving under the influence of alcohol is an offense that the State of Georgia does not take lightly. Although DUIs are typically considered misdemeanors, there can be extenuating circumstances that advance it to be a felony charge.
Typically, the officer will first try to establish how much you have had to drink and then request you take field sobriety tests (“FST”). Often this will include (1) the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test; (2) the 9 step Walk and Turn and (3) the One Leg Stand. Most people believe they are required to take these tests; you are not. These tests serve to bolster an officer’s grounds to arrest and are of little benefit to the driver. Also, the officer may ask you to blow into a handheld machine on the side of the road. This is known as the preliminary breath test. This is not the state administered test, and there are no penalties for refusing to take this test.
When arrested for a DUI, Georgia law requires the driver to take a chemical test to measure their blood alcohol content (BAC). This must be taken as soon as possible from the time they were last driving, and the officer decides whether a breath, blood or urine test will be taken. The officer must explain that, if the motorist decides to take a test, then they have the option of asking for another test at their own expense and they can choose where to take it. The officer must read an implied consent notice explaining that refusal to take a chemical test results in license suspension for at least one year and that the refusal may be used against him or her in court.
If a person refuses this test, even on a first lifetime DUI, a person’s driver’s license may be suspended for one year without being eligible for a work permit.
Georgia’s laws make it illegal for drivers of all ages to operate motor vehicles if they have blood alcohol content (BAC) percentages of 0.08 percent or higher. The minimum percentage of alcohol needed for arrest drops to 0.04 percent if the suspect is operating a commercial vehicle and lower to 0.02 percent if they are below 21 years of age.
If the driver took a chemical test with a result of 0.08 percent or greater, or if they refuse to take it entirely, the driver has only 10 days to request a special hearing in order to save their right to drive. If this deadline is missed, the driver’s license will be suspended.
Specific DUI penalties depend on the motorist’s age, license type and previous DUI convictions. However, penalties usually consist of license suspension or revocation, possible jail time, alcohol and drug evaluations and recommended treatment if any, and increased car insurance rates in addition to varying fines and court costs.
DUI charges are serious, and the law is ever changing. When selecting your representation, it is imperative you hire someone who specializes in DUI law, has trial experience and is familiar with the prosecutors.
At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys, Patrick McDonough and Trinity Hundredmark, have combined experience of more than 30 years representing clients facing criminal charges in Georgia. For more information, or to request a case evaluation, contact our law office at 1-770-822-0900.