Georgia has strict laws against drunk driving. Being stopped and ultimately convicted on DUI charges can have long-term personal, professional, and financial consequences. Motorists should understand the law and their rights so that they can protect themselves as effectively as possible under the circumstances at hand.
There are a number of DUI laws in our state. Drivers who are at least 21 may not have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher. This drops to 0.04 percent for commercial vehicle drivers. Motorists under 21 face penalties if they have a BAC of 0.02 percent.
The penalties for drunk driving depend on the facts of each case. Contributing factors include age, license type, BAC level, and any earlier DUI convictions. A driver with a BAC of at least 0.15 percent faces more severe penalties than someone with a lower BAC. In some cases, penalties are mandatory, while in other instances courts may have discretion.
Some of these penalties can be quite strict, too. A motorist who is age 21 or older faces a license suspension of at least one year, a $300 to $500 fine, a $210 license reinstatement fee, 40 hours of community service, mandatory completion of an education program at their own expense, and possible one-year imprisonment. These drivers are subject to harsher penalties for any subsequent convictions.
Underage drivers who are 16 to 20 years old may be penalized with a six-month license suspension for having a BAC under 0.08 percent, a one-year suspension for a BAC of at least 0.08 percent, a $210 license reinstatement fee, and mandatory completion of a drug and alcohol education course at their own expense. Underage drivers also face more serious penalties for later convictions occurring within a certain time. Drivers who are younger than 16 face different punishments for drunk driving.
While drivers have a constitutional right to decline a chemical BAC test, they will have their license suspended for one year for doing so. A second refusalwill mandate a three-year license suspension.
However, Georgia drivers are not punished for refusal to take a field sobriety test. This is important because 30 percent of completely sober drivers fail these tests. Accordingly, drivers should be cautious when police try to convince them to take their tests and argue that this is required.
Drivers should seek prompt and informed advice from an experienced attorney when they are pulled over for suspected drunk driving. An attorney can help them protect their rights.