How will the state of Georgia view my previous DUI conviction?
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Georgia (Photo credit: FLC)"][/caption]
This is a valid concern. Every state has laws which allow past DUI convictions to be considered when the courts are determining the fines and penalties for a current DUI, but whether or not past DUI arrests are considered will depend on how much time has lapsed. This time is called the look back or wash out period, and it varies by state.
When is a second DUI considered a second DUI?
Georgia uses the term look back or wash-out period to determine when a prior drunk driving offense can be considered if the driver is arrested a second or third time for drunk driving in Georgia. If the second DUI conviction is within the look back period of a prior DUI offense the state of Georgia is allowed to enhance the DUI penalties.
This should be a simple process, but due to the variations in state laws, many drivers are left wondering how their state will handle a second or third DUI arrest. For instance, drivers in Arizona and North Dakota will have a seven year washout period. Drivers in Kansas and Michigan will have a lifetime look back period. This means in the states of Kansas and Michigan all previous DUI arrests are considered prior to awarding penalties in a current DUI case, even if the past drunk driving convictions were 10 years ago.
Look back Laws for Georgia
What about the state of Georgia? Georgia has a look back period of five years. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Georgia and your DUI arrest was more than 5 years ago your most recent DUI will be considered your first DUI for penalty assessment.
Keep in mind, in most states the look back period will begin on the date the driver was arrested, not convicted. For example, if your state has a ten year look back period, if you were arrested on January 9, 1995, and again on January 23, 2005, the second arrest would be treated as a first time offense.
We had a question from a driver on our forum who mentioned they had a previous DUI thirteen years ago and was questioning how the court would view their most recent DUI arrest. Under Georgias DUI laws the most recent arrest should be considered as a first DUI offense.
Drunk Driving Penalties for first DUI Conviction In Georgia
Assuming this is your first drunk driving charge in five years and you are charged with a first DUI offense you are facing fines of $300 to $1,000, ten days to one year in jail (which may be probated by the judge). If your blood alcohol content level was too high you may be required to spend at least 24 hours in jail. You will also have to perform community service: 20 hours if your BAC was under the legal limit and 40 hours if it was over the legal limit. You will have suspended drivers license for one year, but you may be able to get a workers permit after a specified time period. You can also expect to take an alcohol or drug education class.
Keep in mind, the look back laws simply identify whether or not your current DUI will be considered your first, second or third and allow the courts to enhance DUI penalties. Whether or not your DUI remains on your driving record is a separate issue. State laws will determine how to expunge or clear DUI convictions from driving records. Talk to a Georgia DUI lawyer if you have more questions about your DUI arrest.