Every day people get behind the wheel after having one too many. This choice can result in serious consequences, as each day a number of these individuals are charged with a DUI. Even one DUI conviction can lead to fines, jail time, and a period of license suspension. Many drivers who are convicted of driving under the influence will face the consequences of their actions, then move on and avoid repeating the same mistake again. However, a number of individuals will become repeat offenders.
Each year, people are arrested and charged a with their second, third, or even fourth DUI. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, around a third of those who are arrested or convicted for drunk driving are repeat DUI offenders. The penalties for each subsequent DUI are more severe and can include things like larger fines or more time in jail. One additional consequence that an individual with multiple DUI convictions can face is being declared a 'habitual violator.' This page will discuss what the consequences of being a habitual violator are in Georgia. You can always contact your Atlanta DUI Lawyer for more information.
What Is A Habitual Violator?
In Georgia a habitual violator is:
"[A]ny person who has been arrested and convicted within the United States three or more times within a five-year period of time, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained to the date of the most recent arrest for which a conviction was obtained, of:
(1) Committing any offense covered under Code Section 40-5-54 or Code Sections 40-6-391 through 40-6-395 or violating a federal law or regulation or the law of any state or a valid municipal or county ordinance substantially conforming to any offense covered under Code Section 40-5-54 or Code Sections 40-6-391 through 40-6-395; or
(2) Singularly or in combination, any of the offenses described in paragraph (1) of this subsection."
Ga. Code Ann. § 40-5-58(a)(1)-(2) (2015). A conviction for driving under the influence is a violation of Code Section 40-6-391. This section applies to both DUI offenses involving alcohol as well as DUI offenses involving other controlled substances.
What Happens When I Am Found To Be A Habitual Violator?
An individual can be declared a habitual violator after getting three DUI convictions in a five year period. Being declared a habitual violator is not a crime, but rather a status. A habitual violator will have his or her license revoked for a period of five years. If an individual decides to drive without a license then he or she can face additional criminal penalties.
A driver can get a probationary license after two years. This license can be valid for a period of three years. There are several things a habitual violator needs to show in order to obtain this temporary license including:
- A refusal of the temporary license request would cause the driver an extreme hardship, including preventing him or her from going to work, attending school, etc.
- The applicant has to have completed any driving or alcohol/drug programs that he or she was assigned.
- The person applying for a temporary license cannot have been convicted or plead nolo contendere to certain types of offenses.
- The applicant must submit proof of insurance
- The applicant must submit a sworn affidavit that states he or she does not use illegal substances and does not use alcohol in excess. § 40-5-58(e)(1).
A probationary license allows a habitual violator to drive again, but there may be restrictions placed on the license that limit where he or she can go. The restrictions may include things like what time of day a driver can be on the roads, what locations a driver can travel to, and what routes a driver is allowed to take.
Not every driver may have the option of getting a temporary license. For example, an individual who was convicted of a DUI will not be eligible for a probationary license if someone died in a motor vehicle crash because of that individual. § 40-5-58(f).
What If I Drive While My License Is Revoked?
If a driver chooses to get behind the wheel while he or she has a suspended license, that driver can face significant consequences. These consequences can include fines, time behind in bars, and the revocation of a probationary license, if the individual has one. It is important to be aware that if a person's probationary license is revoked, that person will not be able to apply for another probationary license for a period of five years. § 40-5-58(e)(6)(D).
What penalties an individual may be subject to for driving without a license will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. A few possible scenarios are listed below.
- Violating The Terms Of The Probationary License: If person violates the terms that were placed on his or her probationary license, that person may be found guilty of a misdemeanor offense and could have the probationary license revoked. In addition, he or he may face other penalties. § 40-5-58(e)(6)(A)(i).
- Driving Without A License After Five Year Revocation: If a person drives without a license after the five year revocation period is over, but prior to being issued a new license, that individual can be found guilty of a misdemeanor. The penalties for this offense can include a $1000 fine and up to a year in prison.
- Driving Without A License During Five Year Revocation: If an individual who has three DUI convictions is found driving without a license during the period of time his or her license is revoked, that person can charged with a felony offense. The penalties can include a $1000 fine and between one and five years in prison.
- Getting Another DUI While A Habitual Violator: An individual who is arrested for another DUI after he or she has already been declared a habitual violator can face a number of consequences. First, a fourth DUI charge is considered a felony in Georgia. Additionally, that person will face whatever penalties are applicable under the habitual violator statute. For example, if the individual was issued a probationary license and was arrested for driving under the influence with this license, he or she could face a $1000 fine and between one and five years in prison.
Contact A DUI Attorney
Being declared a habitual violator can have a significant impact on your life. If you have been charged with a DUI in Atlanta, contact the Law Offices of Richard Lawson today. Atlanta DUI Attorney Richard Lawson has worked as a criminal defense attorney in Georgia for more than twenty years and he has represented thousands of clients in DUI cases. Let his extensive experience and knowledge work for you. Please do not hesitate to contact his office today at (404) 816-4440, or click here to fill out an online form.