GEORGIA DUI: 1ST OFFENSE
Make no mistake; a first time Georgia DUI is a serious matter. The stakes are high when considering that jail time and lengthy license suspensions are possibilities from a DUI conviction, even if you get minimum penalties. It is not unusual for someone arrested for DUI to be facing the first offense they have ever committed. Having an officer seize your driver’s license and take you to jail is scary and confusing, but proper representation and navigation of your case can help minimize the impact a DUI case can have on your life.
1ST DUI: AUTOMATIC LICENSE SUSPENSION
The first and most urgent aspect of a DUI is to determine whether the arresting officer seized your license during the arrest. An individual whose license is seized during DUI investigation should also receive a Form-1205 notice if the officer did their job correctly. This form notifies the individual charged with DUI that the officer is petitioning against them to have their license automatically suspended for a period of 1 year. This is generally done when the individual accused of DUI refuses state administered testing of the blood, breath, or urine, or when the accused had a breath sample of .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or higher.
The good news is that this is not an automatic suspension and there are options to fight this suspension. You have 30 days to file an appeal of the suspension, or you may choose to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle in certain circumstances. The appeal process involves mailing the Department of Driver Services official notice that you intend to appeal the suspension. A hearing is scheduled through the Office of State Administrative Hearings to determine whether the officer’s case against you has grounds to automatically suspend your license. Failure to provide any response to the petition within 30 days, or failure to install an interlock device if eligible, will result in the one- year suspension of your privilege to drive in the State of Georgia being upheld automatically. Many other states will also honor this license suspension even though it is a Georgia specific suspension.
1st DUI: WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Mandatory minimums for a 1st time DUI conviction are an important consideration for anyone facing their first DUI. There is a minimum of 24 hours to serve in custody, but the jail time could range from 1-10 days depending on negotiations and results of a trial. It is also typical to receive 12 months of probation for a first DUI conviction. Fines generally range from $300 to $1,000 before fees and surcharges. You will also be required to do some community service with the most common amount set at 40 hours. License suspensions on top of Automatic License Suspensions (ALS) are also mandatory if convicted of DUI. The suspension penalty differs based on whether the DUI is for alcohol or drugs, so it is imperative that you consult with a DUI specialist as soon as possible to make sure your privilege to drive is protected. You can also expect to be required to complete a DUI risk reduction course, a drug and alcohol evaluation and any recommended treatment, and any other case- by- case treatments that may be required through your sentence.
Less considered, but no less important, is the long- term consequences of a DUI conviction. A DUI conviction is on your record permanently. Unlike many misdemeanor charges, a DUI is exempt to any sealing or expunging services and will always be visible on your record if convicted. A conviction for DUI also makes you ineligible for any commercial driver’s license. This makes the stakes especially high for those who drive as their livelihood. DUI convictions may result in limitations when applying for jobs and securing meaningful employment, as most employers will run a background check that will show the conviction.
1st DUI: FINAL THOUGHTS
There is no time to hesitate when it comes to facing a possible 1st DUI conviction. You have a strict 30- day limit to respond to a potential automatic one- year suspension of your license. As such, it is imperative that you consult with a DUI expert sooner than later. Proper representation of a DUI case starts with quick action. Evidence may be preserved, and responses issued before it is too late for either action. We look forward to handling your DUI case and encourage you to call us to get started today.