First Time DUI Penalties in Georgia

The state of Georgia is particularly tough on DUI offenses. Even if you are a first time offender, it is important to take the charges seriously. A DUI conviction can be expensive, embarrassing, and cause major disruption to your daily life. If you are facing Driving Under the Influence charges in Georgia, prepare yourself with the facts about what a first time DUI offense will entail.


Georgia law states that any person in control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the point that it is “less than safe” for them to drive (or with a BAC of .08 or above or any amount of illegal drugs in their system) is guilty of Driving Under the Influence. Even if the drugs were legally prescribed or the person’s BAC is under .08, if the police have reason to believe you are a safety risk due to these substances, you can be charged with DUI. The police will generally perform field sobriety tests and administer a chemical breath, blood, or urine test to determine BAC. In the state of Georgia, there is a legal presumption that every person licensed to drive has already consented to a breath test. You can refuse to submit to a breath test, but the refusal of a test is often functionally the same as a test result of .08 or above. If you are convicted of a DUI after refusing a breath test, your license could be suspended for an additional year.


A first DUI offense is considered a misdemeanor. Sentencing for a first time DUI may include up to $1,000 fine and jail time of up to one year. If your BAC was .08 or over, there is a mandatory sentence of 24 hours in jail. First-time offenders are also sentenced to a minimum of 40 hours of community service and probation of up to one year. During your probation, you will most likely be required to complete additional conditions like attending AA or NA meetings, take random urinalysis tests, and to avoid alcohol or drugs. This means no drinking even while at home and avoiding social events where alcohol is present.

The Department of Driver’s Services will suspend your license for one year after a DUI conviction. You will have only ten days to request a hearing to appeal the suspension, otherwise, your license is automatically revoked. If you want to drive at all during the term of suspension, you will have to apply for a Limited Driving Permit and prove that it is necessary for you to drive. The Limited Driving Permit will allow you to drive to work, school, alcohol programs, and other limited locations. Once the suspension has passed, you do not automatically get your license back. You will need to apply to have your license reinstated by calling the Department of Driver’s Services, visiting a driver’s license office that offers reinstatement, or by requesting your reinstatement in writing.


You will also most likely need to complete a Risk Reduction Program as part of your sentence. This class is designed to help change your relationship to drugs or alcohol. The assessment portion of the course takes 30 minutes to an hour, and the intervention stage will take 20 hours broken up over multiple days. Attending the course is mandatory, and costs $280 on top of any other fines or court fees you are required to pay.


If five years have passed since a DUI offense, it will be treated as a first-time offense in the eyes of the law; however, it is important to remember that the judge will still take your driving record and any past DUIs into consideration. So while you may not be facing the more severe penalties of a repeat offender, you may still receive a tougher sentence due to a previous DUI conviction.


Many first time offenders make the mistake of assuming that there is nothing they can do after being arrested and charged, or that it would be best to handle the charges on their own. This is not true. Considering the impact that a DUI conviction can have on your life, it is important to seek the counsel of a professional. An experienced DUI lawyer in Cumming can help you argue your case, negotiate a plea agreement, and perhaps even get the charges dismissed.