If you are arrested for a DUI (Driving Under the Influence), you are most likely worried about what’s to come. Believe it or not, 1 out of every 121 drivers are arrested for drunk driving, and all of them face serious charges.
If it’s your first DUI offense, you probably have no idea of what to expect from the court, the DMV, or your job. Well, we have some answers for you. Let’s talk about a first-time DUI in Georgia and what you should expect. Be sure to visit us to keep reading.
What Does A First Time DUI Mean?
Let’s get the scariest part out of the way. How likely is jail time? Well, if you are arrested for a DUI, you will more than likely be going to jail. However, jail is different from prison, and prison is certainly avoidable.
If you are found to be driving with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.8 or higher (0.2 if under 21), you will be handcuffed, taken to the police station, and placed in either the jail or the “drunk tank” with other people who were arrested for similar charges that night. This could be a couple of hours or a whole night.
From there, your bail will be set by a judge, which will typically be between $150 to $2500, depending on the nature of the charge. This process can usually be rather quick. If that bail is paid, you will be free to go until your court arraignment date.
If you are charged with DUI, the district attorney’s office will have to file a case against you. You will be given notice in the mail of the dates on which you need to attend court. It is critical that you have legal assistance before attending these dates, and that you’ve given yourself ample time to consult with an attorney.
This is the day where you will simply enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Before entering this arraignment, it’s crucial that you consult with an experienced DUI attorney to help make your decision. A guilty plea will immediately result in penalties, including a criminal record.
If you plead not guilty, you will have to go to trial. The risk of going to trial, especially alone, is that it can increase your penalties if you are found to be guilty. However, you and your attorney will also be given the opportunity to reduce or even expunge your charges.
Penalties If Convicted
If you are convicted, whether you pled guilty or went to trial, there are charges you should expect to face. For a first-time offense, there is a minimum of a 24-hour jail sentence, and often up to 10 days, which can be waived. However, the maximum sentence for a first offense is 12 months.
You will also face a minimum fine of $300, at least 40 hours of community service, and mandatory attendance at DUI Risk Reduction School. The judge may also have you evaluated to determine if you need substance abuse treatment like counseling or a 12-step program.
You will also have your license suspended, with the possibility of a limited driving permit for work or other essential purposes. After your license suspension, you can request a hearing with the DMV for a limited permit or figure out a date for license reinstatement.
Let’s say you pled guilty or went through the trial and got off with a $300 fine, no jail time, and a limited driving permit. That’s the best-case scenario. However, those aren’t the only complications that come with a DUI.
If you spend a couple of nights in jail or have to attend court, your job is definitely under no obligation to pay you or even keep you on their staff because of it. If you drive for a living or as an essential part of your work, they may even be legally obligated to terminate your employment.
Your job isn’t the only thing to worry about. You will now have a criminal record, making it much more difficult to find jobs in the future, and making future punishments for any convictions more severe. Even if they are unrelated to DUI charges.
In the event that you are caught with a second DUI charge within the next 5 years, you will be facing between 12 and 36 months of probation, fines between $600 and $1000, mandatory minimum of 3 days in jail (likely to be at least 90 days), a red stripe on your license, and a photo publication of yourself to the county. These are serious penalties that need to be avoided.
If you get a third charge, you will be facing habitual violator status, which is a felony charge that will last for your entire life.
If you are convicted for your first DUI, your license will be suspended for a minimum of 1 year. If you receive a limited driving permit, driving outside of the specified boundaries will have it revoked.
It will also not bode well for the overall standing of your driver’s license in the future. Another DUI offense, a speeding ticket, or any other issues could mean revoking your license, increasing fines, or even further criminal charges, depending on the severity of the situation.
How Serious Is A DUI?
For a first-time DUI, you could be facing some serious consequences including a criminal record and possible jail time. Any steps you can take to limit those risks will save you a lot of trouble in the future. Stay safe, get help, know the law, and find out why you should hire a DUI attorney!