DUI laws across the nation—and in the state of Georgia—make it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at, or above 0.08. For those under the age of 21, Georgia has a near zero-tolerance policy, meaning it is illegal to drive with an alcohol concentration at, or above, 0.02 of in the driver’s system. While some states do not allow sobriety checkpoints, the state of Georgia does allow police officers to briefly stop vehicles at specific, highly visible locations to check for impairment. The police are allowed to stop every driver at the checkpoint, or just a portion of the drivers, and if it appears a driver is intoxicated, the police may request to administer field sobriety evaluations or a breathalyzer test.
DUI in the state of Georgia is a serious matter, with severe penalties for those who are convicted of driving under the influence. Each and every year, drivers of all ages, and from all walks of life are arrested for violating the DUI laws of the state of Georgia. Quite often, those arrested are normally law-abiding citizens who find themselves in a precarious situation. A DUI conviction can alter your life in many ways, for many years. If you find yourself charged with DUI in the state of Georgia, it is extremely important that you contact an experienced Georgia DUI attorney as soon as possible. Having a knowledgeable attorney by your side from start to finish will ensure the best outcome possible when charged with a Georgia DUI.
Georgia DUI—Misdemeanor or Felony?
One of your primary anxieties after a Georgia DUI arrest may be whether a Georgia DUI is a misdemeanor or a felony. In general, when you are arrested in Georgia for DUI, you are facing misdemeanor charges, and the vast majority of Georgia DUI arrests are misdemeanors. There are, however, certain situations in which a DUI charge could be a felony. Those situations include:
- If you are convicted of a 4th DUI since July 1, 2008, then you could face felony charges. DUI arrests made prior to July 1, 2008 do not count toward your total number of DUI arrests for this purpose. If you are facing your first, second or third DUI, then you should be charged with a misdemeanor, although you could be charge with an “high and aggravated misdemeanor.
- If you seriously injure another person while driving under the influence, you could be charged with a felony. Under the Official Code of Georgia 40-6-394, such a felony would be defined as a person who, with no malice involved, causes bodily harm to another. This bodily harm can include serious disfigurement, brain damage, or any injury which deprives or renders useless a body part. The terms used under Georgia Code are somewhat ambiguous as far as what is considered a serious injury, and this can be a defense to those charged with this crime. If you are convicted of DUI Serious Injury by Vehicle, you could be facing from one to fifteen years in prison.
- If you kill another person while driving under the influence, then you will be charged with DUI Homicide by Vehicle—a felony. If you are convicted of this felony, you could spend a minimum of three years in prison, and a maximum of fifteen years in prison—that is, if you, without malice, committed the offense of homicide by vehicle. You could face the same sentence if another person dies as a result of your impaired driving, and you leave the scene of the accident. If you have been deemed a habitual violator, under Code Section 40-5-58, and, while driving with a revoked license and while impaired, you (without malice) cause the death of another person, if convicted of the offense you could spend a minimum of five years in prison, and a maximum of twenty years in prison. Your sentence could potentially be suspended, deferred, probated or withheld, but only after you have served at least one year in prison.
Additionally, if you are caught driving under the influence while transporting minors, you could potentially face felony charges, and if you are considered a high-risk operator—such as a school bus driver—you could potentially face felony DUI charges even if it is your first DUI offense. Remember, even if you are charged with a felony DUI in the state of Georgia, your Georgia DUI attorney may be able to reach a deal with the prosecutor to have your charges reduced, although there are certainly no guarantees.
The Stakes are High for a Felony DUI
As you can see, there are serious consequences for a Georgia felony DUI conviction. Your very best chance of a more positive outcome is to work with a Georgia DUI attorney who has experience, as well as a solid history of obtaining the best results for DUI clients. Melanie Ellwanger will defend your Georgia DUI charges aggressively, bringing her experience as a prosecutor, defense attorney and judicial candidate to the table. For a dedicated, knowledgeable Georgia DUI attorney who will work hard on your behalf, and who will consistently ensure your rights and your future are protected, call Melanie Ellwanger at 404-803-3105 today.