There are several types of penalties a driver charged with DUI could face in Atlanta Municipal Court. If you have been charged with DUI, the penalties you may face will greatly depend upon your personal criminal and driving history, and the circumstances of your arrest. The following list is meant to serve as a general overview of all of the potential penalties. More detailed information on each specific penalty may be obtained elsewhere in this section.
All Georgia residents who have been convicted of driving under the influence are required to participate in a clinical evaluation. This will be conducted by a Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities approved Clinical Evaluator. This evaluation consists of a conversation and answering some questions about your alcohol and/or substance use. If the Evaluator determines that you do have dependency issues, he or she will recommend that you undergo a substance abuse treatment program. You are required to comply with all recommendations your clinician gives.
All Georgia residents who have been convicted of driving under the influence are required to complete community service. This is a certain amount of unpaid volunteer hours that you must perform within a time period set by the judge. Your service hours must meet the following requirements:
- The hours take place at an organization that is classified as a non-profit
- The organization has agreed to allow you to work as a court-mandated volunteer
- The organization where you perform your hours has been approved by the court
Driving Privileges Withdrawn
If you have been convicted of DUI, you could be subjected to the withdrawal of your driving privileges. There are two different ways this could happen:
- Suspension: when your license is suspended, your driving privilege is temporarily withdrawn for a specific period of time. When your suspension period is over, you may apply for a driver's license once you satisfy all Department of Driver Services requirements and pay any necessary fees. First time DUI offenders face a driver's license suspension of one year. Additionally, drivers who do not agree to undergo a chemical test during a vehicle stop for DUI suspicion will have their driver's license suspended.
- Revocation: when your license is revoked, your driving privileges are terminated and withdrawn until the end of specific time period. When your revocation period is over, you may apply for a new driver's license once you satisfy all Department of Driver Services requirements and pay any necessary fees. Repeat DUI offenders could face a revocation period of five years.
All Georgia residents who have been convicted of driving under the influence are required to participate in a risk reduction program, more commonly known as "DUI School". DUI School programs involve 20 hours of education and intervention regarding substance use and abuse and driving. You must attend a School that is been approved by the Georgia Department of Driver Services to fulfill this requirement.
Fines and Fees
If you are convicted of driving under the influence, you will be ordered by the court to pay a fine. DUI fines can range from $1,000 or less for a first offense and up to $10,000 for repeat offenders. In addition to these fines, you will have to pay fees (if applicable) for reinstating your drivers license, attending any required evaluation/treatment, and installing an ignition interlock device.
Ignition Interlock Device
Repeat offenders will be ordered by the court to install an ignition interlock device. This is a device that includes a breathalyzer machine in your car. Every time you wish to start your car, you must give a breath sample. If any alcohol is detected in your system, this device will prevent your car from igniting. You will need to visit a state approved mechanic and pay for the installation of this device.
One of the most distressing aspects of Georgia DUI law is that even for your first offense, you will face up to twelve months of jail time, with a minimum of twenty-four hours in jail. Repeat DUI offenders could face years in prison.
A judge may replace a portion of a jail term for DUI with probation, or add a term of probation to begin at the end of a jail term. If you are placed on probation, you will be subjected to many requirements, and if any of these are violated, you could face additional penalties.
Publication of Conviction in Local Newspaper
If you are convicted of two or more DUIs within a 10 year period, the clerk of courts will publish in your local newspaper a notice containing your name, photograph, city, county and zip code of your residential address and the details of your arrest (including date, time, place, and arresting agency).
Substance Abuse Treatment
If the clinician who conducts your mandated evaluation deems that you are in need of substance abuse treatment, you must comply with the recommendations. This includes successfully completing any recommended treatment curriculum (at your own expense).
Exactly which penalties you may face and the severity of the penalty will be greatly affected by the individual circumstances of your case. If you have been charged with DUI and would like a clear understanding of which penalties you face, please give me a call, so that we may examine the details of your case. This will give us a clear picture of what penalties you could possibly face, and decide on the most effective strategy to minimize the severity.