Getting a DUI in Atlanta is not the same as getting a DUI in Los Angeles or New Orleans. Each state treats a drunk driving arrest a little differently, from the alcohol limits to the penalties involved. Some states even have different terms for driving under the influence (DUI), such as operating while intoxicated (OWI), operating under the influence (OUI), or driving while intoxicated (DWI).
DUI Laws in Fifty States
Georgia treats a DUI similarly to many other states, but each state has distinctions, which is why it is important to speak to a local DUI attorney who exclusively handles DUI defense. DUI laws are changing all the time, and it can be tough for a non-DUI defense criminal lawyer to keep up. Different states can have different blood alcohol limits for drunk driving, different suspension periods, vehicle impound, open container violations, and even laws that affect whether your insurance company can deny coverage in cases of DUI.
How Much Is Too Much?
The police test a person's blood or breath after a DUI arrest to determine how much alcohol they have in their system. These chemical tests are measured in BAC, or blood alcohol content. In every state, the per se limit for a DUI charge is 0.08 percent BAC. For commercial driver's, the limit is lower. All states also have a zero tolerance limit for underage drivers. Zero tolerance means anything 0.02 percent BAC or higher. In other states, the limit is 0.01 percent, while in some states zero really does mean zero.
Many states, including Georgia, also have additional penalties when a driver has an especially high BAC. In Georgia, an enhanced DUI is triggered after a DUI of 0.15 percent or higher. Most states, including Alabama and North Carolina have a similar 0.15 BAC enhanced limit. However, other states including Florida and Tennessee have a higher enhanced DUI limit of 0.20 percent BAC.
Automatic License Suspension
After an arrest for a DUI in Georgia, the Georgia Department of Driver Services will automatically suspend a driver's license for one year. In order to stop an automatic suspension, you will need to request an ALS hearing within 30 days of the arrest. Contact your Atlanta DUI defense lawyer, to make sure your driver's license won't be taken away.
Most states also have an administrative license suspension for a first time DUI, although in most cases it is less than a year. Some states only have 30 or 90 day suspensions, and other suspensions can be six months long. Some states, such as Florida, have different suspension periods depending on whether the driver refused to consent to a chemical test (6 months for a DUI, 1 year for refusal).
Alcohol Insurance Exclusions
Alcohol exclusions allow insurance companies to deny coverage for people injured while under the influence of alcohol. The exclusion is intended to discourage drinking, but is a very controversial policy. Georgia is in the majority of states that have laws explicitly allowing insurance companies to deny coverage to people injured in drunk driving accidents. Other states, such as North Carolina and Washington have laws prohibiting insurance companies from using alcohol exclusions.
Local DUI Defense
A DUI in any state can mean serious consequences, both in the state you are driving, and in your home state. You need a local DUI defense lawyer, who understands the local laws and how they will impact your life. As an Atlanta DUI defense lawyers, we understand what a DUI arrest and conviction can mean to your future, including your right to drive, and your freedom. Call our office anytime day or night, and we will fight for you, to get your charges reduced or dropped.