What To Expect With A First Offense DUI Charge in Georgia


States around the country are getting tougher on DUI’s. Considering the thousands of lives that drunk driving claims every year, it is no wonder that the criminal justice system is cracking down on DUI offenders.

After being arrested on your first DUI charge, you should understand that your life will irrevocably change. Money will be spent, attorneys will be met, and your personal reputation will take a hit. Minimizing the damage from a DUI is only possible with an experienced criminal attorney by your side to guide you through the legal process.

So what now? You were just put in handcuffs on the side of the road for an alleged DUI. What should you expect?

Jail Time: in the entire State of Georgia, there is a mandatory 24-hour jail sentence. Depending on the outcome of the trial or conviction, you could face up to 1 year in jail.

Fines and Penalties: in addition to mandatory jail time, you will also be ordered to pay criminal fines. For a first offense, this fine will be at least $300 but no greater than $1,000.

License Suspension: your Georgia driver’s license will also automatically be suspended for up to 1 year. It is possible to have your license reinstated after only 3 months with court permission. You will have to pay a $210 license reinstatement fee to the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

Community Service: the court will mandate at least 40 hours of community service. In special scenarios, the court may only mandate 20 hours of service if your blood alcohol content was below .08 upon arrest. The court can order up to 240 hours of service depending on the nature of the arrest or involvement of drugs.

Probation: upon your first DUI offense, you should also expect 1 year of supervised probation. At least once a month, you must meet with a probation officer, which may involve periodic drug screenings.

Risk Reduction Program: to reinstate your license, you must complete a certified Risk Reduction Program (what we commonly call DUI schools). Prior to the course, you must also schedule a drug & alcohol assessment about your personal alcohol use. Then you must finish a 20-hour intervention program and receive a Certificate of Completion. The entire course costs a total of $355 at licensed schools.

Insurance: one of the largest financial drains of a DUI is the huge increase you will see in your monthly auto insurance. A first-time arrest can skyrocket your monthly bill by 2 to 3 times. To work your way back down to normal insurance payments, your provider may require 5 years of a clean record.

Paying For You Car To Be Towed: after a DUI arrest, law enforcement will usually call a local towing company to move your vehicle from the location (even if it is private property). The longer your car sits in the lot, the more you’ll pay to get it back.

Civil Liability: in the event that you are held responsible for bodily harm or property damage, then the victim can seek civil damages from you. If the court deems you responsible for these damages, then you must compensate the victim out of your pocket.

Time Frame: this can vary substantially depending on how far you want to take the case, but it usually takes between three and nine months to resolve completely. This does not include probation periods.

Cost: this is probably the biggest question on your mind – how much will a DUI cost? Well, in the bullet points above, we pointed out there are several charges you need to pay upfront that add up to about $1,200 including: car towing, criminal fines, license reinstatement, and DUI school. Other extemporaneous and long-term charges could include: thousands of dollars in insurance increases, civil damages, payment for a criminal defense attorney, and costly court fees. Altogether, you could lose up to $10,000 when you consider all of the costs that are associated with a single DUI offense.

This list is sobering reminder that drunk driving could cost you big bucks. In order to discourage and deter offenders from getting behind the wheel, Georgia has slapped some serious economic consequences on making this deadly mistake.

To protect yourself, minimize the charges as much as possible, and possibly dismiss the case altogether, call The Burnett Firm to discuss your legal options during a free legal consultation.