When you have been charged with drunk driving, you may want to understand the Georgia drunk driving laws so that you can determine your legal options.
This article discusses how you can get compensation for personal injury caused by a drunk driver in Georgia.
How Old do Drivers have to be in Georgia to Drink Legally?
Throughout the past 35 years, Georgia’s alcohol-driving limit has changed. After falling to 0.15 percent in 2001, it has remained at 0.08 percent since.
- Underage drivers who have a blood-alcohol level of .08 or more are considered legally drunk.
- Having a blood-alcohol level over .04 percent is considered legally drunk for a driver of a commercial vehicle. Georgia classifies school buses as commercial vehicles.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal if your blood alcohol content exceeds .02.
Georgia DUI Penalties: What are they?
- A first-time offender who commits a crime faces a prison term between 10 days and 12 months. A fine of $300 to $1,000 is also imposed on their first offense. A DUI program, as well as 40 hours of community service, are required of first-time offenders. A 12-month suspension is imposed on their licenses. Licenses can be reinstated after 120 days.
- The penalty for a second conviction within five years is 90 days to 12 months in prison and a fine of $600-$1000. As part of the DUI program, they must also attend a clinical consultation and complete 30 days of community service. During your probationary period, you must serve fewer days than you normally would. A license can be revoked after three years. The offender can regain their license after 18 months.
- Third or subsequent convictions within ten years are punishable by a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 as well as a prison sentence of 120 days to twelve months. Also required are a DUI program, a clinical consultation, and community service. A habitual DUI offender’s vehicle is forfeited when he or she is arrested and charged with DUI. He or she also has to serve 12 months of probation. An eight-year suspension of the driver’s license is also imposed on the offender. If a substance abuse program is recommended by the consultation, the offender can then regain his/her license.
- The fine ranges from $1,000 to $5,000 (excluding 90 days in jail) in the event of a fourth conviction. The applicant is also required to complete community service and to possibly participate in a drug treatment program, as well as receive clinical consultation.
- Additional penalties for drunk driving.
DUI Penalties for Children Under 14 While in the Car
Among the separate offenses of driving under the influence while transporting a child under 14 is endangering a child by driving under the influence. It carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail or a $1,000 fine, whichever is greater. An individual who commits a third or subsequent offense faces a prison sentence of one to three years or a fine of $1,000 to $5,000.
Ignition Interlock Device
When a person is convicted of a second or subsequent DUI within five years, he or she is required to use an ignition interlock device for one year. After the one-year period of license revocation ends, this one-year period begins. If the offender has fully restored their driving privileges after one year, they can apply.
In order to provide a breath sample, drivers blow into the mouthpiece of the car breathalyzer once it is installed. Breath alcohol content (BrAC) is measured within the legal limit by the device. When it’s below the limit (usually .02), the driver can turn the key in the ignition and start the vehicle.
Drivers of Commercial Vehicles
If a driver holds a commercial driver’s license for the first time, Georgia’s DUI laws may also impose other penalties. For example, disqualification from driving a commercial vehicle for one year. When drivers transport hazardous materials, they are disqualified for at least three years. A commercial driver who commits a second DUI while operating a commercial vehicle will be disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle for the rest of their lives, with the possibility of a reduction to ten years or more.
Drivers of School Buses
School bus drivers who are convicted of DUI while operating a school bus will receive prison sentences ranging from ten days to twelve months, followed by probation. The sentences of people sentenced to less than the maximum term may also include fines between $300 and $1,000; 40 hours of community service; a DUI program; and clinical consultation. In the first ten years, the penalty increases for a second, third, and fourth offense.
Under 21-year-old drivers
Underage drivers who have a BAC of 0.02 or higher who are convicted of the offense are considered misdemeanors, punishable by up to $1,000 and up to 12 months in a state probation detention center or diversion center. If they commit a third or subsequent offense that is punishable as an adult crime, underage offenders may serve their prison terms on weekends. If they commit their third or subsequent offense, however, underage offenders may be subject to the same punishment as adults. A person must also complete his/her community service within six months of being sentenced.
What is Georgia’s Dram Shop Act?
The Georgia Dram Shop Act holds licensed establishments liable for injuries caused by intoxicated individuals in two situations. After serving alcohol, the establishment knew the customer was underage and that he would drive shortly thereafter. Another example is when a bar or restaurant serves alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated and knows the person will soon get behind the wheel. Alcohol-indulged people cannot sue a drinking establishment for damages if they are injured by their own intoxication.
How does Georgia’s “Furnishing Alcoholic Beverages to Minor Children” statute work?
Upon receiving alcohol without the consent of the parents, parents can sue the person who sold or gave the child the alcohol. So long as damages are sought for harm to peace, happiness, or feelings, Georgia’s Dram Shop Act does not preclude such a lawsuit.
Providing Alcohol to an Underage Person is a Criminal Offense
Underage drinking is prohibited in all states. The laws punish such activity regardless of whether it is sold, given, provided, or supplied. Although state laws differ in language, all states prohibit providing alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 18.
Georgia gives you the choice of serving six months in prison or paying up to $300 in fines if you furnish alcohol to a minor for the first time.
Because of Georgia’s strict penalties and harsh penalties that accompany drunk driving, you should take precautions to avoid being involved in such a situation. You could be jailed and lose your license if you’re caught driving under the influence of alcohol. You may also have difficulty finding a job and your insurance rates may increase.