If you are charged with DUI in Georgia, you need to hire a skilled and experienced attorney to handle your case. DUI’s can be complex in nature and if convicted, will expose you to serious criminal liability. This article will discuss the criminal penalties to expect if you are convicted of DUI in Georgia for the second time within a five year period, measured by the dates of arrest for which a conviction was obtained.

Jail Time and Probation

Generally, a DUI is considered a misdemeanor offense. As such, the maximum penalty is up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Can a judge sentence to the maximum? Yes. Will the judge sentence to the maximum? Unlikely. For a second DUI in 5 (or 10) years, there is a minimum mandatory 72 hours in jail. The judge may give you credit for time already spent in custody when you were first arrested. The remainder of the 12 months will be “probated,” meaning you will be placed on probation.

Probation is like walking around with a rain cloud over your head. While on probation, you are required to “report” to probation, either in-person, or by mail or phone (usually permitted if you live out of county or out of state). You are required to pay a monthly probation supervision fee separate from the fine assessed as part of the conviction (usually $30-$40 per month). You are also prohibited from drinking alcohol or doing drugs while on probation. If you are arrested for a new crime while on probation, this could cause serious issues as well. Your current probation could be “revoked” and you could go back to jail for the time remaining on probation.

Fines and Fees

The minimum fine for a second DUI is $600, the maximum is $1,000. This base fine is accompanied by court costs which add a hefty tax to the overall fine. Interestingly, Georgia law allows for a judge to reduce the base fine up to one-half if you are currently enrolled in a substance abuse program at the time of sentencing. The sentencing judge may also reduce the fine if not doing so would impose “an economic hardship” on the defendant. There are additional costs and fees associated with the required classes and counseling, discussed below.

Classes and Counseling

Typical DUI punishment includes mandatory participation in a Risk Reduction class, also referred to as “DUI School.” This 20 hour class focuses on the dangers of DUI driving and costs roughly $350. The Risk Reduction class must be completed within 120 days of the conviction. You will also be required to complete a Victim Impact Panel. This 2 hour class discusses the “impact” DUI cases have on victims and their families.

Furthermore, those convicted of DUI must undergo a clinical evaluation for alcohol and drug dependency. You must meet with a state certified counselor for an assessment and complete any treatment if treatment is recommended.

Community Service

Those convicted of what’s called a “second-in-five” DUI will also have to complete 240 hours of community service. Generally, you can choose which organization to work for, so long as it is a federally recognized non-profit organization and is not a religious institution. Some jurisdictions, however, force you to choose from certain designated organizations. At the end of your community service, you will want a document on the organization’s letterhead stating you successfully completed community service.

Publication of Conviction

A second DUI within a five year period also causes your conviction to be published in the local newspaper in the county you live in, or in the county where the conviction took place (for non-residents).  The publication is one column wide by two inches long and contains the person’s booking photograph, the name of the convicted person, the city, county, and zip code of the convicted person’s residential address, and the date, time, place of arrest, and disposition of the case. The publication is made once in either the second week following the conviction or shortly after the conviction. Furthermore, the person is assessed a $25 publication.

License Suspension

O.C.G.A. § 40-5-63 governs the driver’s license suspension for any person convicted of DUI. For a second-in-five conviction, your full driving privileges will be suspended for eighteen months. After first serving a 120 day hard suspension of your license which means no driving at all in those first 120 days, you will be eligible for a twelve month ignition interlock device permit if you have completed the following requirements.

You must submit an original certificate of completion of a DDS (Department of Driver Services) approved alcohol or drug use risk reduction program. Complete a clinical evaluation with a counselor licensed by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities along with any treatment required by the counselor. Show proof of installation of an Ignition Interlock Device in your vehicle from a DDS approved vendor. Pay a $25 permit fee. If you cannot afford the cost to obtain an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, the court can exempt you from the requirements of the device, but you will still have to serve that additional twelve month suspension of your license. After serving the 120 day hard suspension and the additional twelve months with an ignition interlock device, you must still serve an additional two months without the interlock device for a total of eighteen months before you can reinstate your full license. For reinstatement you must pay the $210 reinstatement fee and show DDS proof that an ignition interlock device was maintained in your vehicle for twelve months or show an order from the court exempting you from the interlock device due to hardship.

A second-in-five DUI conviction will greatly impact your ability to drive. Therefore, it’s important to get out in front of a second DUI arrest by consulting with an attorney to discuss your options in fighting the case.

If you or someone you
know has been arrested for driving under the influence, contact the
law firm of W. Scott Smith at 404.581.0999
 today for a free
case evaluation
. You’ll find a local Atlanta DUI attorney ready to
aggressively fight on your behalf. You can also find out more detailed
information about Atlanta
laws here