Georgia DUI FAQs
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Georgia. A night of bar hopping in Atlanta or a couple of drinks with co-workers can easily lead to serious consequences if a police officer pulls you over. Depending on the facts surrounding your case, penalties may range from the suspension of your license to imprisonment.
While no one plans to get arrested for DUI, it helps to have a better understanding of your rights and the DUI process. Below, we share answers to several frequently asked questions about driving while intoxicated in the State of Georgia.
Do I Have to Submit to Sobriety Testing?
In Georgia, the law of implied consent makes it mandatory for a driver who has been arrested to take a breath, blood, or urine test. Essentially, the implied consent law means that by virtue of having a driver's license, you have already agreed to chemical testing in the event you are arrested. Your refusal to take a blood alcohol test is an offense and if it is your first occurrence can result in the suspension of your license for one year.
However, before your arrest, there is no law compelling you to submit to sobriety testing. Accordingly, roadside sobriety testing is voluntary, and you cannot be forced to submit to it. So how do you know which test is optional and which is mandatory? If the arresting officer reads the implied consent law to you (the orange card) you are required to take the test.
What Should I Do If I Get Arrested for DUI?
An arrest, especially if it is your first time, can be very confusing. However, what you do following a DUI arrest is critical to your case and defense. Here are three things you should do if you are arrested for driving under the influence in Georgia:
- Remain silent – Individuals arrested for a crime are always quick to offer up an explanation or defense. Remember that the police cannot determine your innocence or guilt, but anything you say can be used against you in court. Accordingly, it's best to remain silent if you are arrested for DUI.
- Request a DMV hearing – Separate from your court proceeding; the DMV will carry out an administrative process that involves the suspension of your license. If you fail to request a hearing within 10 days of your arrest, the administrative process will proceed in your absence with an automatic suspension of your license even before a court determines your guilt or innocence. Consequently, if you do get arrested for driving under the influence, the second thing you should do is request a DMV hearing.
- Contact an attorney – A DUI offense carries severe consequences, and you will need an experienced DUI lawyer in Georgia to help prepare your case and represent you in court.
Keeping these three factors foremost in your mind after a DUI arrest can help you immensely.
How Much Alcohol is Too Much?
You can be arrested for driving under the influence in Georgia if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher if you are 21 years or older, 0.04% or higher if you are operating a commercial vehicle, and 0.02% or higher if you are under the age of 21.
How intoxicated you are at the time of your arrest will depend on the rate of alcohol absorption in your blood. The absorption rate varies based on gender and other factors, such as the time between the last drink and your arrest, the frequency of beverages, and food consumption before drinking. On average a person eliminates 0.015% of alcohol per hour from their body; this is the equivalent of a 12-oz. beer or a 5-oz. glass of wine.
Often individuals assume that drunkenness is the standard of proof in a DUI case. If there is evidence that you were under the influence while driving to the extent that being under the influence made it unsafe to drive, then that is sufficient to make a case for driving under the influence. Accordingly, it is better to proceed on the side of caution and avoid driving after drinking alcohol.
Can I Lose My License If It's My First DUI Offense?
If you are found guilty of DUI, and it is your first conviction, you can face a license suspension of up to 12 months (more on types of DUI penalties). However, your license may be reinstated after 120 days if you successfully complete DUI school and pay the license reinstatement fee. If you qualify, you may apply for a driving permit with limited use, such as driving to school, work, or DUI school during the suspension period.
Losing driving privileges is often one of the biggest concerns of individuals who are arrested for DUI in Georgia. So, it is important that you have an experienced DUI attorney on your side who knows the law and will work to get the best results for you.
A DUI charge is no small matter. It is a criminal offense that carries severe penalties. Whether it is your first time or you are a repeat offender, it is best to hire a DUI lawyer. At the Dickerson Firm, our mission is to provide aggressive and efficient legal representation to those accused of DUI in the Metro Atlanta area. Our team of attorneys includes former prosecutors with a wealth of experience in the criminal judicial system. If you or a loved one is facing DUI charges, schedule a consultation today.