Getting arrested for a second offense DUI is a very serious matter. If you have been convicted or entered a plea of nolo contendre to drunk driving charges within the last 10 years, a second arrest will be treated as a second offense, and the penalties become much greater than first offense penalties.

What Criminal Penalties Will I Face For a Second Offense DUI in Atlanta?

The penalty ranges for second offense (for drivers over the age of 21) are as follows:

  • A period of imprisonment of 90 days - 12 months in prison. A judge can waive the requirement of prison time to an extent, but you must serve at least 72 hours (3 days) in jail
  • At least 30 days (240 hours) of community service
  • Completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program 
  • A clinical evaluation for drug and/or alcohol abuse, followed by a treatment program if necessary
  • A period of 12 months of probation, which will follow the period of incarceration
  • The publication of your name, photograph, residential address, and details of your arrest and conviction will be published in your local newspaper

As you can tell, for most of these penalties include a standard minimum up to a maximum penalty. How do the courts apply this range? Drivers present mitigating circumstances usually end up closer to the minimum penalties, while cases in which the state presents significant aggravating circumstances could face maximum penalties. 

Mitigating circumstances are all of the factors that go in favor of the driver. These can include a blood alcohol level that was not exorbitantly high, if a driver voluntarily sought alcohol and/or drug treatment, the lack of any additional charges, lack of significant criminal history, and other factors. Many times a defendant is given the opportunity to make a statement to the court, during which they may highlight their family responsibilities, involvement in a community of faith or other nonprofit organizations, stable employment and/or education, or any other factors which demonstrate how he or she makes a meaningful contribution to society. 

Aggravating circumstances are all of the factors that go against the driver. These can include an extremely high blood alcohol level, if additional charges accompanied a DUI (such as child endangerment or open container violations), altercations with police at the time of arrest, a significant criminal history, or other negative factors.  

What Driver's License Consequences Will I Face For a Second Offense DUI in Atlanta?

The penalties to your driver's license are completely separate from the criminal penalties you are charged with. The Municipal Court of Atlanta will determine the penalties discussed above, while the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) will determine the consequences to your driver's license. For a second DUI offense within 10 years, you will face:

  • The requirement that you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle 
  • Suspension of your driver's license for up to 18 months

An ignition interlock device is installed in a machine that is installed directly into your vehicle and contains a breathalyzer machine. Before you are able to start the vehicle, you will be required to submit a breath sample. If any trace of alcohol is detected on your breath, the vehicle will not start. You are required to have this machine installed by a DDS approved mechanic, and you are required to pay for all installation costs. The installation of an ignition interlock device can reduce the total amount of time that your driver's license is suspended. Also, to end your license suspension, you will have to pay additional fees to the DDS. 

No two cases are the same. If you are facing charges for your second DUI, please call me. We will discuss the details of your arrest and your history. After I have a clear picture of your personal and professional background, we can begin to identify the mitigating factors of your case, and build a legal strategy around emphasizing these to the court so that you have the best possible chance at getting a minimum penalty so that you can move forward in a positive direction.