Atlanta Third DUI/Habitual Violator Defense Lawyer
Have you been convicted on DUI charges at least twice in the past decade? The third time you’re arrested for driving under the influence, you’ll face aggravated charges and penalties. A third conviction can lead to the loss of your license and a lot of time behind bars. You may also be designated as a “habitual violator,” which will have serious implications of its own.
Protect your future. Contact Atlanta DUI lawyer Jim Yeargan and the experienced legal team at Yeargan & Kert, LLC for help defending your third DUI charges. Your first consultation is free, so call to discuss your DUI case today.
Is a Third DUI A Felony?
The first and second time you’re arrested for DUI in Georgia, you’ll face misdemeanor charges. Your third DUI will also be a misdemeanor, but a “high and aggravated” misdemeanor. It’s basically one small step away from being a felony. If you’re convicted of a “high and aggravated” misdemeanor, you’ll face the toughest penalties the state can impose for a non-felony offense.
What Are the Criminal Penalties For a Third DUI in Georgia?
Georgia has what are called “look back” periods. When you’re arrested for DUI, the state “looks back” to see how many other DUIs you’ve gotten in a particular period of time. When considering criminal penalties and charges, the state looks back over the past decade.
The third time you’re convicted of a DUI within a 10-year period, you’ll be required to spend a minimum of 15 days in jail. You might be able to get credit for some of this minimum period for time served after your arrest. You’ll also have to complete a minimum of 12 months of supervised probation.
The court also has the discretion to impose any or all of the following penalties after your third DUI:
- Between $1,000 and $5,000 in fines
- 120 days to 12 months in jail
- 30 days of community service
- DUI School
- Attend regularly scheduled sessions for substance abuse counseling and treatment, and
- License suspension.
The extent of your criminal sentence will depend largely on the circumstances surrounding your DUI. Factors that might influence the penalties include your blood alcohol concentration (BAC); an accident causing property damage, injury or death; or the presence of a minor in the motor vehicle.
What Can Happen to My License After a Third DUI?
There are two ways you can potentially lose your license after your third DUI.
Criminal License Suspension
The state will look at the five-year period preceding your most recent DUI. If this is your third DUI conviction in that five-year span, you’ll be declared a “habitual violator.”
As a habitual violator, your driving privileges will be revoked for a minimum of five years. After your license has been revoked for two years you may qualify for a probationary license. However, a court will only grant one if you can prove that you’re experiencing an “extreme hardship” by not having a license.
You may be awarded a probationary driver’s license if you can show a court that you rely on a car to get to work, school, meetings of support organizations, or the doctor’s office. If an when you get a probationary license, the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) can put certain restrictions on your driving privileges. You can be told when, where, and why you can drive your car, and for how long.
Administrative License Suspension
You can also lose your driver’s license before you’re ever convicted of a third DUI in Georgia. If you fail or refuse to take a breathalyzer, the arresting officer can seize your license. Then you’ll only have 30 days to formally request an Administrative License Suspension Hearing. If you do nothing, you’ll lose your license for at least one year.
Administrative proceedings are separate and distinct from your criminal DUI case. In fact, it’s possible to face administrative penalties – and the loss of your license – before you’ve set foot in the courtroom to defend your third DUI arrest.
What Happens If I Drive After I’m Categorized as a Habitual Violator?
Once you’ve been declared a habitual violator and your license has been revoked, you’re prohibited from getting behind the wheel. If you drive, you can face serious criminal consequences.
Driving While a Habitual Violator
If you’re a habitual violator and drive during the revocation period, you can be charged with a felony. You might face the following penalties:
- Driver’s license suspension between two and five years
- Up to five years in prison
- 30 days of community service
- DUI School
- Mandatory clinical evaluation, followed by completion of a treatment program
- Five years of probation, and
- Ignition interlock device requirement.
DUI as a Habitual Violator
You will be charged with a felony if you get your fourth DUI if you’re driving as a habitual violator. This can carry harsh penalties, including:
- A minimum of 90 days in jail
- Five years in prison
- 12 months of probation
- Up to $8,000 in fines
- License suspension for up to 10 years
- Ignition interlock device requirement
- 60 days of community service
- 17 weeks of drug and alcohol counseling, and
- Surrender license plates.
You’ll also have a felony conviction on your criminal record, which can have consequences on its own.
What If I Have a Probationary License?
The only way you’ll be allowed to drive is if, after your license has been revoked for at least two years, you’ve convinced a judge that you need a probationary license. However, just because you have this probationary license doesn’t mean that your full driving privileges are restored. If you deviate from the strict terms of your probationary permit, you can get into a lot of trouble.
If you are a habitual violator with a probationary license and violate your strict requirements, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. You can be sent back to jail, lose your permit, and face additional consequences.
How Can I Defend Myself Against a Third DUI in Georgia?
Your future is on the line. Don’t trust just any attorney with your criminal DUI case. You deserve someone who has experience and a track record of success handling challenging DUI matters.
At Yeargan & Kert, our attorneys are former prosecutors. We’ve trained the police officers who investigate DUIs in Atlanta. We’ve defended clients like you against serious DUI charges across the state for decades. We will help you assert the best defense possible and fight to protect your future.
Our DUI defense lawyers carefully review all of the details surrounding your DUI arrest and criminal charges. We’ll determine which defenses are best suited for your particular case. These might include:
- The initial traffic stop was unlawful
- Evidence has been obtained in violation of your rights, due to an illegal search and seizure
- Chain of custody issues concerning evidence in your case
- Evidence obtained through blood tests and/or breath tests is unreliable, or
- Issues with how your field sobriety test was administered.
We’ll challenge all of the evidence the state has gathered. We’ll do whatever we can to undercut the state’s and prevent them from building a solid case against you. When you’re facing charges for your third DUI, the best defense is an aggressive offense.
You Deserve an Experienced DUI Attorney
Every time you’re convicted of DUI in Georgia, you’ll face more serious criminal charges and penalties. If you have two prior DUI offenses in the last five years, you risk being labeled as a habitual violator, losing many of your rights and privileges, and spending a long time behind bars.
You need to defend yourself against these charges as tenaciously as you can. That’s where DUI Jim and the legal team at Yeargan & Kert can help.
Contact our Atlanta law office to schedule a free consultation. We’ll review your case and explain your legal rights. Remember, you risk losing your license if you don’t act quickly. Call us so that we can get started on your case today.