Is There A Difference Between DUI And DWI In Georgia?

Driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal in all 50 states. However, some states also have a criminal statute for driving while intoxicated (DWI). In some states, it could also mean driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Georgia does not have a separate DWI statute for driving while intoxicated. All charges for impaired driving due to alcohol or drugs fall under the state’s DUI laws.

Georgia DUI Laws

Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher is illegal in Georgia, as it is in all 50 states. However, you can also be charged with a drunk driving offense if your BAC is below 0.08 at the time of your arrest.

Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs is also against the law. If alcohol or drugs impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle, you may also face penalties for a DUI conviction.

There are numerous DUI charges a person can face in Georgia. Some of the common DUI charges you might face include:

Being charged with driving under the influence offense can carry severe penalties for a conviction. Contact an attorney immediately to discuss potential DUI defenses following a DUI arrest.

DUI vs. DUI Per Se – What is the Difference?

You can be arrested for DUI under two different circumstances. An officer may arrest you for DUI after a traffic stop if the officer has a probable cause to believe that you are intoxicated. Officers often use the smell of alcohol, the appearance of the driver, and the driver’s actions as “evidence” that the driver is intoxicated.

A DUI Per Se is an arrest after a chemical test shows that the driver’s BAC is 0.08 or higher. By driving a vehicle in Georgia, you consent to a chemical test for alcohol or drugs if a police officer requests you to take a test. You can refuse a chemical test, but you risk losing your driver’s license for one year for refusing the test.

Even if you refuse a chemical test, the police officer may obtain a search warrant to force you to comply. If you took a chemical test after being arrested for DUI, contact an attorney to discuss ways to fight the results of a chemical test.

DUI Penalties in Georgia

The penalties that you face for a drunk driving conviction depend on the charge and the circumstances involved in your case. For example, the potential penalties for a first-time DUI conviction include:

  •   24-hours mandatory jail time if your BAC was above 0.08
  •   Jail time between 10 days and 12 months
  •   12 months of probation
  •   $300 in fines
  •   40 hours of community service
  •   DUI Risk Reduction School
  •   Substance abuse counseling and treatment
  •   Suspended driver’s license

The punishment for driving under the influence increases if you have prior DUI convictions or there are mitigating factors involved, including DUI with a child in the vehicle or a DUI accident.

For instance, the potential penalties for a Third DUI conviction include 120 days to 12 months in jail, up to $5,000 in files, and 30 days community service. If you have two previous DUI convictions within the past year, your driver’s license could be suspended for a minimum of five years for a third DUI conviction.

In addition to the above penalties, there could be additional consequences of a DUI conviction. Your car insurance premiums increase, your job could be negatively impacted, you may not qualify for college scholarships, and you could lose certain professional licenses. The potential of negative consequences depends on the factors of your case.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for a DUI Charge?

Because you can face harsh penalties and negative consequences for a DUI conviction, it is a smart move to consult an experienced DUI lawyer. Regardless of whether this is your Third DUI charge or if you have a spotless record before your DUI arrest, an attorney can help ensure that your legal rights were not violated during the DUI stop or arrest.

A DUI charge is not a guilty verdict. The state must prove its case in court to obtain a guilty verdict. However, do not underestimate prosecutors.

Georgia prosecutors are highly trained, skilled, and successful trial attorneys. If you attempt to represent yourself, you will be at a disadvantage. You need a lawyer who has a successful record of handling DUI cases similar to your case.