The problem with drinking and driving is not regulated to alcoholics, nor is it only created by repeat offenders. It can occur after one person abuses alcohol and just one time makes the decision to get behind the wheel. In Georgia, this is driving under the influence (DUI), and is severally punished.
There are two ways to get arrested for a DUI in Georgia. There is the traditional DUI where you are driving incorrectly as a result of drinking. Signs officers look for are pretty obvious to everyone but the driver: passing between lanes, running red lights or stop signs, and driving too fast. If you’re pulled over, the officer may still give you a chemical sobriety test, but he or she can technically arrest you simply because of your driving.
The other form is called the “per se law” and relates to first giving the breathalyzer test to see your blood alcohol content (BAC) level. In all 50 states, if you’re .08% or higher, you will be arrested. In this case, the officer needs relevant reason to pull you over, but the basis of the arrest will be on the sobriety test. While other sobriety tests can be given, the breathalyzer and other BAC tests are the ones you always have to take.
What happens if you refuse or fail the BAC test?
Say you get pulled over driving from a party. The officer suspects you’ve been drinking, but you refuse the breathalyzer. Under Georgia law, your license is automatically suspended for one year. You have the right to appeal this in Georgia court, but these are rarely if ever stopped. If on the other hand you are asked, accept, and fail the BAC test, you are in no better territory. You will be charged with a Georgia DUI, and face all the penalties. So should you refuse any tests and take the penalty? Actually, you will run into many problems, because the penalties are automatic and rarely will you win an appeal. If the officer suspects you’ve been drinking, you may be charged anyways. If you actually pass the BAC, you can still be arrested but have a better chance.
The Penalties for a First Time Georgia DUI Offender
Your first DUI charge you ever receive or the first one in five years means you can expect to be fined, face jail time, have required community service, and have to go to a DUI school. The fines may seem small, from $300 to $1,000, but the jail time can be as much as 1 year. On the other hand, your license will be suspended for one year. If you continue to drive, and are pulled over, you face even more charges.
What happens if you get multiple DUI charges?
If you get two or more Georgia DUI violations, you can expect even stiffer penalties. This is where state laws are very similar: first time offenders face severe penalties, but if you get an aggravated DUI where you hurt or kill someone else, or if you simply get pulled over many times for drinking and driving, the fines, suspensions, jail time, and other penalties can literally ruin your life. You likely will face thousands in fines, many years of suspension, jail time in years, and face other problems.
What You Do
Yes, it can ruin your life, but there are ways to succeed after even multiple DUI violations. The first step is to hire an experienced Georgia DUI lawyer in your area. It’s a requirement almost for even first time offenders. It’s rare to defend a DUI and win a not guilty plea, but at the least you can lower penalties and get a second chance.