In the state of Georgia, even a first offense DUI can have a pretty serious impact on your life- penalties are strict so that our state officials can show they take a tough stance against drinking and driving. If you are facing charges for DUI for the second time, you should be aware of the serious nature of the punishments you could face.
When is a Subsequent Offense Considered a 2nd DUI in Atlanta?
A subsequent arrest for driving under the influence will be considered a second offense for purposes of determining penalties if not more than 10 years has passed between the date you were arrested for a DUI that you eventually were convicted of and the date you were arrested for DUI the second time. You must be convicted of the offense- if you are arrested but not ultimately convicted of driving under the influence, this will not count against you for purposes of sentencing for a later DUI charge. The clock starts the day you were arrested, not the day you entered a plea or were found guilty. For purposes of determining a second offense, the court will treat a plea of nolo contendre the same as a guilty plea.
What are the Punishments for a 2nd DUI in Atlanta?
The penalties for a second offense DUI include:
- 90 days - 12 months in jail
- A term of probation of up to 12 months (following the minimum period of incarceration)
- $600 - $1,000 in fines
- Minimum of 30 days (240 hours) of community service
- Completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program
- Clinical evaluation by a state-approved clinician for alcohol and/or drug dependency issues, and the successful completion of a treatment program if deemed necessary
- The installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, if you own one (this includes all the costs associated with installation by a state-approved mechanic)
- Suspension of your driver's license for 18 months
- The details of your arrest and conviction along with your photograph, name, and residential zip code published in your local newspaper
What is the Minimum Punishment for a 2nd DUI in Atlanta?
If you are convicted of a second offense DUI, a judge can reduce many aspects of your sentence at his or her discretion. However, there are minimum punishments a judge will be required to include in your sentence. A judge may commute a portion of the jail time to probation, but you are required to serve a minimum of 72 hours in jail. You are also required to pay a minimum of $600 in fines, a Risk Reduction Program (DUI School), and a clinical evaluation.
The Georgia Department of Driver Services will handle your driver's license suspension. The period of suspension for a second offense DUI is 18 months. However, if you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, you will be eligible for an ignition interlock driving permit from the DDS after 12 months of suspension.
Who Decides If I Get a Minimum or Maximum Penalty for 2nd DUI in Atlanta?
There are two different ways that your penalty can be decided for a second DUI charge. You and your attorney can work with the District Attorney in developing a plea agreement. The terms of plea agreements vary from case to case, and they can range from pleading guilty to a lesser charge (such as Reckless Driving) to pleading guilty and receiving the minimum punishment. If you do not chose to pursue a plea agreement, proceed to trial, and are ultimately found guilty, your sentence will be determined by the judge presiding over your case.
When imposing a sentence, the judge will look closely at the specific facts of your case, as well as your personal history. The factors that courts often examine include the circumstances of the arrest. Were there multiple charges (such as DUI in addition to endangering the welfare of children because the driver was traveling with minors)? Did the driver have a contentious interaction with the police? They can also include the personal circumstances of the driver. Is there a lengthy criminal history which includes driving offenses? Factors such as these can be used by the District Attorney to argue for a harsher sentence. However, there are also facts that you and your attorney can present that can support an argument that you deserve the minimum punishment. These can also include the circumstances of the arrest (such as pointing out the lack of additional charges and the fact that you were cooperative with the police) and your history (such as a lack of significant criminal history).
If you would like a good understanding of the penalties you could face for a second offense DUI, please call us. A discussion of your personal history and exactly what happened during your arrest will give us a clear picture of what you will be facing if convicted, and then develop the best strategy for fighting the charges and lessening the impact this arrest has on you and your family.