Common Questions About DUI in Georgia
Paulding and Cobb County DUI Defense Attorney
Driving Under the Influence, commonly referred to as DUI or “drunk driving” is, as most people know, against Georgia law. However, the act of driving a car after having had one or two alcoholic drinks is NOT necessarily a crime. We can all agree that we do not want people making Atlanta area streets, roads and highways dangerous. However, overly aggressive police officers and highway patrol can often result in innocent drivers catching DUI cases. Questions about DUI law in Georgia are fairly common, so we have compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions and answers for your benefit.
While we hope that these DUI questions and answers are helpful for your general information, no website or article is a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney. If you have been charged with a DUI, contact our office as soon as possible to get your defense moving forward.
What Should I Do If I get Pulled Over and am Suspected of DUI?
If you are pulled over the most important things you can do are stay safe and make sure none of your behavior contributes to the officer’s suspicion (this can be much easier said than done). Try to remember these general guidelines:
- Remain as calm as possible. Be polite and speak clearly to the officer
- Provide your license, proof of insurance and registration when asked. If you need to open the glove box or go in your pocket to retrieve one of them, verbally say “I am going to reach into ____ to get my _____” and give the officer a moment to respond.
- DO NOT admit to drinking or drug use of any kind. You are NOT legally obligated to answer the officer’s questions. However, you do not want to get into a game of legal chicken with a police officer on the side of the road. The best approach is to answer questions as simply and briefly as possible.
Do I Have to Take the Breathalyzer Test?
If you are asked to take a breathalyzer test, be advised that it is a crime to refuse one. Police officer’s are not always clear about this. Technically (and again, it’s NOT advised) but you CAN refuse the PBT (preliminary breath test) which is the hand-held machine an officer will ask you to blow in. You will almost automatically be brought into police custody to go and take the stationary breath test. If you refuse this test, your license will be suspended for 12 months, which is a harsher suspension than MOST DUI outcomes.
What are the Consequences for a DUI Conviction in Georgia for My Drivers’ License?
One piece of the DUI puzzle that is often confusing to people who are charged is that there are actually two different sets of penalties coming from two different government agencies. First, you have to deal with the administrative penalties, or the suspension of your driver’s license. This involves sending a letter within 30 days of your DUI arrest to the Georgia Department of Driver Services or having an Ignition Interlock Device installed.
What are the Criminal Consequences for a DUI Conviction in Georgia?
Assuming it is your first conviction and there were not any aggravating circumstances, the maximum penalty fine is $1,000 and you can also be sentenced to up to a year in jail. The minimum sentence is 24 hours in jail and a $300 fine. With this huge range of both jail time and fines you can see why having an experienced DUI defense lawyer on your side is an excellent investment.
I was Drinking and Probably Over the Legal Limit – Should I Just Plead Guilty?
Often when people are arrested for DUI they assume they are guilty and that there is no purpose in hiring a lawyer. Going into court and admitting guilt and hoping for mercy is a terrible plan. It will likely result in your DUI fines and jail time approaching the maximum (365 days, $1,000) instead of the minimum (1 day, $300).
It’s also important to understand that having drank alcohol and then drove a car is not automatic grounds for a DUI conviction. A DUI is the result of either impaired driving or a BAC test over .08%. The burden of proof lies entirely on the prosecution so long as you do not admit to anything. This means that they need to show a perfect chain of custody for the evidence as well as show that law enforcement followed the law to the letter during each stop of the process. Having a lawyer on your side makes your DUI conviction much more difficult for the prosecution than simply showing up and admitting guilt.