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Frequently Asked Questions About a DUI

 

What qualifies as a DUI?

A DUI stands for Driving under the Influence. It means you are driving while your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit or to the point alcohol has impaired your ability to be a safe driver.

 

What is the legal limit?

The legal limit in Georgia, like in all other states is 0.08. See below for more information.

 

What will the cop do to tell if I am sober or drunk?

The cop will administer numerous field sobriety tests. This includes putting you through a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, standing on one leg test, and walk and turn test.  If after you fail to show adequate sobriety during these tests, you will be charged.  The cop is trying to determine if you are impaired do to alcohol consumption to the point you are a less safe driver.

 

Do I have a right to refuse?

Yes, with consequences. When you are stopped by an officer who believes that you are driving under the influence you have given “implied consent” for him to test your sobriety. You can refuse, but there will be consequences. The simplest way to look at this choice is, if you refuse you are more likely to win your criminal case but also more likely to have serious driving license consequences while awaiting court and if you consent to the test you are less likely to lose your license but will also be less likely to be successful in defending your criminal case.

 

What is “Implied Consent” ?

When you have a driver’s license in Georgia, it is an unwritten contract that you are consenting to a breathalyzer if arrested for certain alcohol related offenses.  Part of getting the driver’s license and driving on the roads is”impliedly consenting” or agreeing to take breathalyzer, blood test, or urine test  when correctly asked by a police officer after being arrested.

 

Can you get a DUI if you blow below 0.8?

In particular circumstances, such as being under the age of 21, you will be charged with DUI if you blow a 0.02. For someone who is a professional driver (CDL), the BAC is 0.04.  In some cases the state will go forward on someone 21 years of age or older as a less safe driver even when they submit to a breath test that documents they were under the legal limit of 0.08.

 

What if I refuse to comply?

If you refuse to comply your license will be confiscated by the officer, the officer will apply to have your license administratively suspended for twelve months,  and you will be given a thirty-day driving permit. You have ten business days to appeal the suspension of your license, if you do not appeal whatever the officer files on your driving history will become final.

 

What if my kids are in the car with me?

If you are charged with DUI while children are in the car with you you may be prosecuted for child endangerment charges. This charge is never taken lightly. Child endangerment is considered a separate and distinct DUI offense, meaning when you go to court it is like you are being prosecuted for multiple DUIs at one time.

 

Can the officer just give me a ticket?

DUI is not one of those charges where you can get a ticket, or court summons, and then drive home. You  generally will be arrested for the  DUI.  It is part of the officer’s duty to remove unsafe drivers from the road.  There are rare exceptions, but generally the officer will arrest you and take you to jail.

 

What will happen to my car?

Your car will be impounded and brought to a storage lot. Typically you are rent for each day that it is kept there and if it is not picked up in six months these lots can sell your car and keep the proceeds.  Impounding is a very expensive process.

 

When will I get out of jail?

You will get out of jail when bail is posted.  This will have to be done by a friend, relative, or bonding company that you call from jail.  The one exception is if you are released “on your own recognizance”. This occurs if the court has reason to believe you are a responsible citizen.

 

I am under 21. Will the charge be more severe?

The charges will indeed be more serious than if you were 21 and above. The legal drinking limit for people under age 21 is 0.02 in Georgia, not 0.08.  If convicted for DUI per se, your license is automatically suspended for six months with no limited driving permit available.  Jail, pronation and fines will also be a part of the resolution of the case.

 

What will happen to my license?

Your license will be suspended unless you act fast.  You have ten days to schedule an Administrative License Hearing, which can prevent your license from being automatically suspended.  If you do not schedule this, your license will be suspended.

 

I drive for work! Will there be consequences?

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) will indeed suffer.  If convicted of a DUI, the CDL will be suspended for an entire year on a first offense.  For a second offense, the CDL will be suspended for life.

 

What happens if I plead guilty?

If you plea not guilty, you have been convicted of the charges. The penalties of a DUI conviction include license suspensions, jail time, probation, community service, and incredibly heavy fines.

 

Can I get my license back?

If you are convicted of a DUI, your license will be suspended for a year.  However, after three months for first lifetime offenders, you may be eligible to get your license back if you submitted to the arresting officer’s request for blood, breath, or urine. There is also a limited driving permit that is available in certain circumstances, which allows you to drive to work, school, and medical emergencies only.

 

Can I plead no contest?

No contest is only available in certain circumstances, even if the judge allows it.  In a DUI case a judge cannot even consider allowing you to enter a no contest plea if your blood alcohol content is above 0.15.  To be clear a no contest plea is a conviction, you are simply not contesting the case.

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