When an officer pulls a driver over on suspicion of drunk driving, it is a jarring and unpleasant experience that can get worse. The penalties on conviction for DUI are already severe in Georgia, but there are additional charges that can result in license revocation, high fines and jail time.
People will often try to keep law enforcement from gathering evidence by refusing to take a chemical test, thinking that by avoiding the test they will be able to keep the officer from making the charges stick. After all, the thinking goes, the results of the chemical test will be the basis for conviction, without realizing that the refusal will also add on charges.
Georgia also has an open container law, and if the driver is alone in the vehicle with an open alcoholic beverage container he can be charged with the violation of being in possession. The officer may at his discretion add on disorderly conduct, aggressive driving or child endangerment if there is a minor in the car.
DUI penalties in Georgia
The penalties for DUI in Georgia, even for a first offense, can include a jail sentence of 10 days to 12 months, fines of $300 to $1,000, 40 hours of community service and a $210 license reinstatement fee. If there was a minor in the car, a child endangerment conviction can add up to a year in jail and as much as $1,000 in fines.
If a driver refuses to submit to a state administered chemical test to determine if they are under the influence under Georgia’s implied consent law, they face driver’s license suspension for a minimum of one year, making them also ineligible for a limited driving permit, even if it is a first-time DUI.
Building a defense against DUI and other charges
When law enforcement initially pulls a driver over, they may suspect that the driver is drunk or under the influence based on an observation of unusual behavior or appearance, such as bloodshot eyes or slurred speech. Everything the officer does from that point on is with the intention of gathering enough evidence to make an arrest, which the prosecution will use along with the officer’s testimony to press for a conviction.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, it is possible to find discrepancies with the officer’s statements, the evidence gathered, or to question their arresting procedures, which can result in many charges being dropped or penalties minimized. For Savannah residents, it is essential to fight for your rights when facing charges in order to be able to get on with your life.