Most people know that the penalties for a second DUI in Georgia are worse than they are for a first offense. Likewise, a third DUI is worse than a second, and so on. But not everyone is aware of just how much worse the penalties can be. Nor do they realize how far back the courts will go when determining what qualifies as a repeat offense.
It’s important to know what you’re up against before you go to court. This is why you should call an experienced DUI lawyer in Atlanta as soon as you’re arrested and charged with DUI. You’ll have to attend your first hearing just a week or so after your arrest. You want to give your lawyer as much time as possible to prepare your defense.
Even if it’s your first DUI offense, you’ll be facing jail time. You’ll also be facing serious fines and other penalties. Your Atlanta DUI defense lawyer will do their best to get the charges reduced or dismissed. But there’s a chance you will convicted. It really depends on how strong the State’s case is.
When you get arrested, you will be taken to the county jail. You’ll be given the chance to make one phone call. That phone call should be to a skilled DUI lawyer in Georgia. And, if not, then it should be to your family who can then call a lawyer for you.
The Court Will Use a Look Back Period to Determine the Level of Your Offense
If you’re arrested for DUI in Georgia, you’ll be formally charged and required to attend an initial appearance. This is a court hearing where the charges against you will be read. You’ll also have to let the court know whether you plead guilty or innocent.
Whether or not you agree to plead guilty should depend on the gravity of the offense. If the charges are for a second or third offense, the consequences will be quite severe. The court is going to use something called a “look back” period to determine whether you’ll be charged with a first offense or something more serious.
Basically, the court is going to go back ten (10) years. If you were arrested for DUI at any point within ten (10) years from the date of your current arrest, it could be a problem. For example, if you were arrested on December 1, 2019, the court will go back to December 1, 2009. If you were arrested for DUI at any point between these two dates, your arrest will be deemed a second offense. (If you had been arrested twice during that period, this will be your third offense.)
Keep in mind, there is a difference between a criminal look back period and the look back period for your driver’s license. The Georgia DDS will go back five years when determining how your current arrest will impact your driver’s license.
Your Atlanta DUI Lawyer Knows that the Penalties for Repeated Offense are Severe
If you’re arrested for a second or third offense, you’ll be facing some pretty stiff penalties. With a first offense, while it will impact your life, it won’t be nearly as bad as a second or third offense.
The penalties for a first offense DUI in Atlanta are as follows:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Up to 1-year license suspension
- Fines of up to $1,000
- 40 hours community service
- Driver’s education course
For a second and third offense, the penalties increase. They are as follows:
- Anywhere from 1 to 5 years in jail
- Fines of up to $5,000
- A license suspension from 1-5 years
- At least 40 hours of community service
- Ignition Interlock Device
- Substance Abuse Treatment
While a third offense is considered a misdemeanor, a fourth offense is a felony. With felony charges, you risk 5 years in jail, fines of $5,000 and all the other penalties associated with a 3rd offense.
Contact a Lawyer Who Handles DUI in Georgia
If you’ve been arrested and charged with a DUI in Atlanta, you’re going to need an experienced DUI lawyer. You’ll be facing consequences that can affect the rest of your life. This is why you won’t want to handle this matter yourself.
Call Howard & Arca today and schedule your initial consultation. You’ll have to attend your first hearing in no time at all. You don’t want to be there alone. Your best chances at getting your charges reduced or dismissed are with a skilled DUI lawyer.