Fourth DUI Should Be Felony in Georgia

During debate on Georgia’s drunken driving laws, state Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) pointed out that if caught shoplifting four times in Georgia, the offender is eligible to be punished as a felon.

“But,” he said, “if you get caught six times with a DUI, you are not a felon.”

Georgia remains one of the few states without a felony DUI statute. House Bill 336, sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Levitas (D-Atlanta), would change that.

It creates a felony-level DUI for repeat offenders who rack up four convictions within 10 years and mandates that repeat offenders serve at least 90 days in jail. Current law treats a fourth DUI as a misdemeanor.

As a former prosecutor, Levitas says he worried more about the dangers to the general public posed by drunken drivers than by murderers. “Sadly, in murders the people often knew each other, but there is a randomness to a DUI where a car suddenly comes across the lane of a highway and hits someone going to church or school.”

Levitas cites research that on average, people drive drunk 87 times before being caught in a DUI. “It’s appropriate for the fourth conviction to be a felony,” he says.

HB 336 not only increases fines and jail time, it requires a clinical evaluation and any necessary treatment upon a first conviction, which law does not now demand.

“My goal is that no one ever gets to a fourth offense,” says Levitas. “But after three times where you have been convicted and received treatment and evaluation, if there is a fourth time, we have to have public safety foremost in our minds.”

The legislation is endorsed by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the state District Attorney’s Association.

“If you have someone who is going to drive drunk and you’ve had them in state court three times already, it’s time to get their attention,” says Lowndes County District Attorney David Miller, on behalf of the association.

“We can actually change people’s lives with a bill like this.”

Maureen Downey, AJC.com (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Georgia DUI Laws

Twiggs County GA Deputies Bust Imparied Drivers

A local sheriff’s department worked to make central Georgia’s highways safer this holiday weekend, but they used some tricky tactics.

The Twiggs County Sheriff’s Department spent Friday and Saturday busting impaired drivers on Interstate 16. Sheriff Darren Mitchum says he sees more drivers drunk or on drugs on holiday weekends.

“We’re just trying to do all that we can to save lives and to make the highways safe for everybody to travel,” he said.

The sheriff’s department put up a sign around mile marker 26, to warn people of a D.U.I. checkpoint ahead. But they know that people who are drunk or on drugs will get off on the next exit, to try to avoid the checkpoint. That’s why they actually put the checkpoint off of exit 27.

Exit 27 has no restaurants or gas stations, so if someone can’t explain why they got off there, deputies get suspicious. They may give a field sobriety test or have a drug dog sniff around the car.

Deputy Josh Hasty is on the K-9 unit with Twiggs County.

“It makes the job a lot more easy. These dogs can get us inside a vehicle a lot of the time and find stuff that we may not be able to find that’s hidden in a car,” he said about his dog Creo.

On Friday, deputies made 32 arrests, 11 of them involving drugs. They found five wanted people and busted others for D.U.I. and open containers. Deputy Hasty says he doesn’t feel bad for people who were trying to avoid a checkpoint.

“If we can take more drunk drivers off the highway and impaired drivers and get narcotics off of the streets that’s the less things we have to worry about,” he said.

People who weren’t driving under the influence got to drive away. Those who got citations or even arrested learned if they hadn’t pulled off the highway, they’d have one less thing on their record.

The Twiggs County Sheriff’s Department worked with the Middle Georgia Traffic Enforcement Network at this checkpoint. They ran the checkpoint all afternoon and evening Friday and Saturday. Sheriff Mitchum says they run that same checkpoint annually on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
Carly Flynn Morgan – 13wmaz.com

Georgia DUI Information

Don’t Depend On Dumb Luck This St. Patrick’s Day…Designate A Sober Driver

ATLANTA (March 2008) – Let’s face it. If you drink and drive, not even your lucky four leaf clover can save you from a DUI this St. Patrick’s Day, but a (.08) could definitely cost you a pot of gold.. or your life. Yet many Americans will test their luck this weekend if they ride with an impaired driver or climb behind the wheel under the influence of too many green beers.

Lurking behind this all-American tradition when everyone merrily claims to be Irish for a day is a startling statistic that no one wants to share for even a moment: Last year on St. Patrick’s Day nearly half of all drivers involved in fatal crashes nationwide had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of (:08) or above. In Georgia, on average, a dozen people will die as a result of alcohol related crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

“Unfortunately, St. Patrick’s Day is no longer just about shamrocks and bagpipe bands,” says Director Bob Dallas of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “Just like on Cinco de Mayo and Halloween, about half the fatal crashes on our nation’s highways are now alcohol-related this holiday. Impaired adults behaving badly have turned the St. Patrick’s Day celebration into another deadly drinking and driving weekend on the Atlanta social calendar.”

It’s tragic. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can already predict who will be the most likely DUI crash fatalities because the history of this holiday tells the tale. NHTSA reports show that young males, ages 21-to-34, are most likely to be involved in DUI car crashes. Why? Because they’re the one demographic most likely to drive while impaired AND among the least likely to wear safety belts. Incidentally, research also shows this same age group is the core crowd participating in major party events like St. Patrick’s Day.

“If our law enforcement and trauma centers really had three wishes in keeping with this holiday, we’d use them all keeping impaired drivers off the roads, protecting innocent motorists from drunk drivers, and taking back all the harm caused by DUI’s in the past,” said GOHS Director Dallas.

But making time to plan ahead before you party is guaranteed to accomplish far more than a pot of empty wishes afterward. Don’t push your luck. Here are three proven tips to help anyone keep the luck of the Irish working for them this St. Patrick’s Day.

1. Plan for a Designated Driver.

2. Don’t drink and drive.

3. Always buckle your safety belt. (It’s still your best protection against an unexpected encounter with an impaired driver.)

If you have a St. Patrick’s Day party, make these safety tips part of your guide to being a great host! (Remember, hosts can be held liable and prosecuted too if someone they over-serve ends up in an impaired driving crash.)

Make sure your guests have Designated sober Drivers.
Never serve alcohol to guests under 21-years-of-age.
Serve plenty of food.. And include soft drinks, juice, and water.
Stop serving alcohol before the party ends. Start serving coffee and dessert instead.
Take car keys from anyone who even thinks about driving impaired.

If you attend a St. Patrick’s Day party at your favorite pub or restaurant, have an exit strategy before you leave for home:

Designate your sober driver before the party begins and give them your car keys.
Volunteer to be the Designated Driver or offer to be one next time out.
Before you party, program local cab company numbers in your cell phone so a safe ride is just a call away.
Pace yourself. Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast. Eat enough food, take breaks, and alternate with non-alcoholic drinks.
Never let a friend out of sight if you think they’re about to drive impaired.

OVER THE LIMIT. UNDER ARREST

St. Patrick’s Day has become one of America’s biggest adult celebrations as friends gather to socialize at parties and pubs. But remember, Georgia enforces DUI laws for those who drive drunk. The message is simple. You drive impaired, you WILL go to jail. It’s Operation Zero-Tolerance.

According to GOHS Director Bob Dallas, one-of-every-three crash fatalities in Georgia all year long is alcohol-related.. and every one of those alcohol-related deaths could have been prevented.

FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS DRIVE DRUNK
“Be responsible about your own limits,” says GOHS Director Dallas. “If you plan to party this St. Patrick’s Day celebration, remember impaired driving is no accident – nor is it a victimless crime. Don’t let your St. Patrick’s Day weekend end in an arrest, a tragic crash or death. Georgia supports Mothers Against Drunk Driving in their reminder that the perfect end to a perfect St. Patrick’s Day parade is a safe and sober ride home.”

From TheWeekyOnline

Georgia DUI Legal Help & Information