DUI Sentencing and Sentencing Alternatives in Atlanta, Georgia

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When a person is charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Atlanta, Georgia, that person faces very harsh penalties that may be imposed from a conviction. Understanding the penalties you may face, and how any previous convictions may affect you, is an important part of protecting your rights. In many cases, there are alternatives to jail or prison. 

With the help of an experienced Atlanta DUI attorney, you can know what you face, work towards sentencing alternatives, and defend your case.  No case is hopeless, and it is worth protecting yourself from the worst of the possible penalties.

Penalties of a DUI Conviction in Georgia

A person who is found guilty of a DUI charge faces severe penalties under Georgia law. While the first two DUI convictions are considered misdemeanors, the third or more can be considered a high and aggravated misdemeanor. In some cases, your DUI may even become a felony level charge.

First DUI conviction:

  • Jail sentence of 1 day to 12 months. Actual sentence imposed will depend on the facts of your case.
  • Possible fine of $300 to $1,000, plus court fees
  • 40 hours of community service
  • DUI Risk Reduction course (often known as "DUI School")
  • Maximum of 12 months of probation, that may include random alcohol and drug testing
  • Driver's license suspension of 120 days up to 12 months

Second DUI conviction :

  • Jail sentence of 72 hours to 12 months
  • Fine of $600 to $1,000, plus court fees
  • 30 days (240 hours) of community service
  • Mandatory DUI school
  • Up to 12 months of probation
  • Possible mandatory substance abuse treatment and clinical evaluation  
  • If convicted twice within five years:
    • Mandatory $25.00 fee to publish a notice of your conviction and your photograph in your county newspaper
    • The required surrender of the license plates to any vehicle registered in your name
    • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device in each of your vehicles for a minimum period of 6 months

Third DUI conviction :

  • Jail sentence of 15 days to 12 months
  • Fine of $1000 to $5,000, plus court fees (Judge can waive half of the fine if you agree to undergo a court-approved treatment program)
  • 30 days (240 hours) of community service
  • Mandatory DUI school
  • Up to 12 months of probation
  • Possible mandatory substance abuse treatment and clinical evaluation
  • If convicted three times within five years:
    • Mandatory $25.00 fee to publish a notice of your conviction and your photograph in your county newspaper
    • The required surrender of the license plates to any vehicle registered in your name
    • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device in each of your vehicles for a minimum period of 6 months
    • Declaration as a habitual violator, which requires the driver to forfeit their vehicle to the state
    • License revocation for up to five years; if convicted of a qualifying offense during the revocation period, you could be charged with a felony crime

As you can see, these penalties can greatly affect your life, your finances, and your freedom. You need an effective and aggressive DUI firm to defend your case in court. You deserve to have your rights protected.

Ignition Interlock Devices

The use of an ignition interlock device is often an alternative to a driver's license suspension and is often part of the conditions of probation for a person convicted of DUI in Atlanta. 

The device itself is a breathalyzer that is connected to the ignition of a vehicle. If any amount of alcohol is detected in the breath sample, the vehicle will not start. This is to make sure that the driver has not consumed alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel. The device can also log any failures, and create a report for your probation officer and the judge in your case.

Use as a Sentencing Alternative

Every state has some form of law that permits the use of ignition interlock devices as a sentencing alternative in DUI cases. Georgia is no exception. While these devices permit you to drive, rather than face a suspension, there are some drawbacks of which you need to be aware.

The driver is responsible for the costs associated with the IID. The devices are typically rented out to the driver, rather than purchased. This is because an IID is only necessary for a certain amount of time. The exact amount of time varies on the person's offense. The cost is typically an initial payment between $100 to $200 to the device provider, as well as a monthly rental fee of around $70.  (This cost will vary). The driver is also responsible for paying for the installation and maintenance of the device.

How the Device Works

IID's are equipped with features that ensure you do not tamper with the device undetected. You should never tamper with your device. Doing so could result in an extremely severe result from the judge, and you will likely have your driver's license revoked without privileges.

Records of the sensor results are typically printed out at 30-, 60-, or 90-day intervals, and are reviewed by your probation officer or the judge. Any amount of alcohol on your breath will result in a failure. It is important not to drink even a drop and get behind the wheel.  

False positives can be a potential problem as well with these devices. The device is not able to tell the difference between different types of alcohol, such as isopropyl alcohol. Isopropyl alcohol is found in hand sanitizers, hand wipes, soaps, mouthwash, and gels. One of the biggest culprits is mouthwash. Many types of mouthwash have alcohol in them as an ingredient. You may rinse out your mouth after brushing your teeth and get in the car to go to work and blow a false positive. This could lead to punishment from the court when you did not attempt to drink and drive.

With the help of an experienced Georgia DUI defense attorney, you can request the use of an IID, and avoid problems related to false positives.

Consult an Experienced Atlanta DUI Attorney

Understanding the possible penalties and sentencing alternatives can help you protect yourself from the worst possible penalties.

With the help of an experienced Atlanta DUI attorney at your side, you can defend your case and protect your constitutional rights. Contact us today for a free consultation of your case.

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