Georgia has one of the best ways of making sure that our top high school graduates continue their education: The HOPE Scholarship program. The HOPE program stands for Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally, and the program does this by taking revenue from the Georgia Lottery and creating scholarships for the best and brightest in the state's high schools. Unfortunately, if you get pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI), then your HOPE funding, or your ability to get it, may be impacted.
The HOPE Scholarship program provides a good amount of financial assistance to legal residents of Georgia, and can be used to attend eligible public, private, and technical schools throughout the state. To be eligible for HOPE funding, you need to have at least a 3.0 GPA in one of Georgia's HOPE-eligible high schools, or perform well enough on the ACT or SAT, if you did not attend one of these schools. Additionally, anyone can get HOPE Scholarship money if they do well enough at an eligible college.
However, one of the eligibility requirements for getting, and maintaining, a HOPE Scholarship is to comply with the Georgia Drug-Free Postsecondary Education Act of 1990. Compliance with this law requires that you not be convicted of a felony drug offense. Non-compliance with the law results in revocation of your HOPE funding for a period of time.
Fortunately, a typical DUI charge is a misdemeanor if it's your first, second, or third offense, so the only way for a DUI to impact your HOPE Scholarship directly is for it to be a fourth offense, and you were arrested for drugged driving, not drunk driving. Unfortunately, a traffic stop for DUI can quickly turn into other criminal charges, as police often use a DUI stop to find probably cause to search your car. If this search results in finding drugs, you'll be facing drug possession charges. The only drug possession charge that is not a felony is possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. All other drug possession charges are felonies, in the state of Georgia. These are the felony drug charges that can hurt your HOPE Scholarship, and also end in fines, jail time, and a blemish on your criminal record that will not go away.
If you end up being convicted of a felony drug offense, your HOPE Scholarship will be revoked for both that semester, as well as the next one. Additionally, if you receive a jail sentence, you'll be ineligible for HOPE funding, even if you do manage to take classes while behind bars. Once your jail sentence is over, though, you may still be eligible for HOPE funding, if you still satisfy their eligibility requirements.
HOPE Scholarships and financial aid are a huge opportunity to get the best education that money can buy, without digging too deeply into your own pockets. Don't let a DUI stop lead to a conviction for drug possession that can take this opportunity away. Call Lawson and Berry at (404) 816-4440. We will do everything that we can possibly do to make sure that the DUI charges you're facing doesn't touch your HOPE Scholarship.