First DUI in Georgia

Being arrested and charged with a DUI is a very scary situation.  In Georgia, a first DUI conviction can result in harsh fines, probation, completion of certain conditions, and even jail time.

CAUTION: Georgia’s 10-Day Rule regarding your license:

By law you have only 10 business days from the date of your arrest to save your license!  If you are charged with a DUI and refused to take a breath, blood or urine test, or if your test results indicated your blood-alcohol level was 0.08 or higher, you must request a special hearing with the Department of Public Safety in order to appeal your automatic license suspension.

If you have been arrested for a DUI, it is in your best interest to contact an Attorney who practices DUI Defense work – this will ensure that your rights are protected and your case is given the best evaluation possible.  After you are arrested, you will be typically granted a bond rather quickly – certain situations, such as other agency holds or other charges, may delay this process.

After you are released on bond, you will likely receive a court date for the near future.  This is known as your Arraignment date.  At that court date, you or your attorney will appear and typically enter a plea of Not Guilty to the charges.  Discovery – including the police reports, videos, test results, will then be served on your Attorney.

Based on the discovery produced, many Motions will be filed in your case to suppress the evidence and/or challenge the State’s evidence.

Your case will then be placed on a Trial calendar call or a Motions calendar for the Motions to be argued.  A knowledgable DUI attorney will be prepared to argue these Motions at the hearing.

First DUI Punishments

In Georgia, the minimum punishment on a 1st DUI Conviction is as follows:

  • Fines from $300 to $1,000 (not including court costs)
  • Jail time from 10 days to 1 year (A judge may suspend all but 24 hours.)
  • 40 hours of Community Service at a non-profit charity
  • Completion of an Alcohol and Drug evaluation with any recommended treatment
  • Loss of license for 1 year (Most drivers are eligible to drive on a 120-Day limited permit – see below for more information on license suspension)
  • One year probation
  • Misdemeanor Conviction

Currently, Georgia law does not allow for record restriction or expungement of DUI convictions – meaning this conviction will likely stay on your record forever.

First DUI License Suspension

“I’ve lost my driving privileges after getting a DUI. How can I have my license reinstated?”

When your license is suspended or revoked your driving privileges are withdrawn until the end of the period of time prescribed by the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS). At the end of the suspension or revocation period, you may apply for a new license once you satisfy certain requirements.

“What if this is my first DUI offense in 5 years? Am I eligible for a driving permit?”

A person who is sentenced on a 1st DUI offense in 5 years can receive a First Conviction Affidavit from the court at the time of sentencing. This, or a certified copy of the disposition of the case, and a completed copy of the ticket will allow you to immediately obtain a probationary license. Please note that the First Conviction Affidavit does not give you permission to drive from the courthouse to the License Service Branch. Be sure to make other arrangements after your court date. 

In addition to the First Conviction Affidavit (or a certified copy of the disposition) and a completed copy of the ticket, the following must also be presented to DDS:

  • One of the following:
    • A certified copy of your birth certificate
    • Certificate of birth registration
    • Valid passport
    • For non-citizens, valid passport with a valid I-94 card
  • Or two of the following:
    • Original social security card
    • Certified copy of marriage license
    • Previous year’s income tax return
    • Current auto registration
    • Voter registration card

After 120 days and once you have completed the Driver’s Risk Reduction School, you may have your license reinstated by:

  • Giving the DDS the white original of the Driver’s Risk Reduction completion certificate, and
  • Paying the reinstatement fee of:
    • $200.00 (money order or cashier’s check only) if by mail, or
    • $210.00 if done in person at a full-service licensing facility.

Restrictions of Driving Permits:

The DDS may specify places you may travel to with a limited driving permit, specific routes of travel, times of travel, specific vehicles, or other restrictions. Typically, Limited Driving Permits may be obtained for:

  • Going to your place of employment or performing the normal duties of your occupation
  • Acquiring prescribed medical attention or obtaining prescribed drugs
  • Attending classes at a college or other regularly attended school in which you are enrolled
  • Attending a driver education or court-ordered assessment and treatment program
  • Going to and from Ignition Interlock centers

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