Georgia’s DUI Laws -Don’t Drink and Drive

By the Georgia Department of Human Resources, From “The Daily Citizen”

ATLANTA – As the New Year approaches, this year’s toast to 2010 could cost you approximately $10,000 for driving under the influence (DUI). In Georgia a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 grams or more promises jail time, bail, fines, fees and insurance-rate increases even if your actions did not harm anyone.

Each year, Georgia has more than 200,000 DUI arrests with the 5 Atlanta metropolitan counties accounting for more than 20,000 arrests each. According to Century Council, approximately 11,773 people were killed in drunk driving crashes. The penalties are intended to be discouraging and law enforcement officials are cracking down on driving while intoxicated.

Below are just some of the costs associated with DUI arrests:

Bail: Cost: $150 – $2,500. Cost of DUI arrests depends on how many offenses you’ve had and your blood alcohol level.

Towing: Cost: $50 – $200. The cost of towing and impounding a car can add up daily. Some cities even auction your car if you can not afford to get your car after 30 days.

Insurance: Cost: $4,500 or more. One of the biggest hits a drunken driver takes is in insurance premiums, which can likely affect insurance rates for three to five years. Rates can likely double, triple or ever quadruple and companies will classify the policy as “high-risk”.

Fines: Cost $300 – $5,000. Depending on your offense and if there have been any other arrests in the past.

Alcohol evaluation: Cost $95 – $300. An evaluation is required of anyone who is sentenced by court for drunken driving.

Alcohol education and treatment: Cost $500 – $4,000 for basic treatment. If you are convicted, you must usually go through an education or treatment program, especially if your license has been suspended.

License reinstatement fees: Cost $210 – $410. If you are convicted of a DUI in Georgia (or any other state), you can expect to face several fees to secure the reinstatement of your driver’s license. After you have completed a state-certified risk reduction program, which costs $287, you can reinstate your Georgia driver’s license for a fee of $210 – $410.

In addition to the “standard” costs of a DUI conviction, there are some consequences that are more difficult to place a number value upon but can be more devastating to many people. DUI arrests and convictions costs money, time, and can lead to job loss or prevent future employment opportunities.

If you plan to drink, plan for a designated driver. If you have had too much to drink and don’t have a designated driver, take a cab or get a sober friend to drive you home. The consequences are sobering!

Contact a Georgia DUI Lawyer if you are in need of DUI defense.

GA DUI Defendants Often Allowed to Drive After Arrest

As state Rep. Ben Harbin heads to an Atlanta court later this month to answer to charges related to his May 2007 DUI arrest, some might speculate that he used political clout or unethical means to retain his driving privileges in the 15-month interim.

Legal and law-enforcement officials say that isn’t the case.

“I don’t think Ben Harbin did anything sneaky,” Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Scott Gay said. “I think that is just somebody looking for something that isn’t there.”

Harbin requested an Administrative License Suspension hearing that nearly 12,000 other people charged with driving under the influence also asked for last year, said Lois Oakley, the chief judge of the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings, which oversees and holds the monthly hearings statewide.

“So he’s in good company,” Oakley said.

An average of 15 Columbia County drivers request the hearings each month.

“This is a case type that we see a great deal of, and my review of the case file would indicate it looks just like every other case file,” she said.

When a driver is stopped by police on suspicion of driving under the influence, police ask the driver to take a breath or blood test.

Police send a notice to the Department of Driver Services requesting a license suspension for drivers who refuse the tests or test higher than a .08 blood alcohol content, the state legal limit.

Those drivers have 10 days to request a suspension hearing to retain driving rights until the criminal charges are resolved in the court system.

“Most people who are intoxicated, you hand them that piece of paper and they don’t read it,” said Gay, a former member of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office DUI Task Force.

“They have 10 days to request a hearing. If they don’t do it within that time line, then they are not entitled to that hearing, so it is an automatic suspension.”

At the hearings, an administrative judge decides who receives their driving privileges until the DUI charge is handled.

Drivers can request that the officer withdraw the request for suspension. The suspension is usually upheld if the driver does not attend, and the suspension is typically rescinded if the arresting officer doesn’t attend.

Harbin’s license suspension was reversed because the arresting officer was not at the hearing.

There were 70 cases scheduled for the most recent session of such hearings in the area. During those hearings, which included DUI cases in Columbia, Richmond and six other counties, 13 drivers regained their driving privileges because the arresting officer did not attend.

More than 30 drivers retained their driving privileges because the officer withdrew the request for suspension.

Oakley said her office doesn’t keep track of case data, including the specific result of each case or the number of officers who show up for the hearings.

“One size does not fit all. Every case has its own nuance,” Oakley said. “It is very difficult and, in fact, inaccurate to try to categorize disposition types and case types. For that reason, we don’t keep data on how many cases are decided in this manner versus another manner.”

Columbia County sheriff’s deputies are urged to take the hearing notices seriously and attend.

“They are treated in much the same way as subpoenas,” Capt. Steve Morris said.

Columbia County deputies are required to appear at the hearings unless a conflict prevents it. In that case, deputies must notify the court and other appropriate parties. Morris said there hasn’t been a problem of deputies missing hearings.

If deputies “refuse to attend, then disciplinary action will be taken,” Morris said.

Gay said the majority of ALS hearings are attended by members of the Richmond County sheriff’s DUI Task Force, but notices also are treated like subpoenas.

“It is a working day. That’s why we have so many people there,” Gay said of the reliable attendance by deputies.

Gay said his department is working to ensure that deputies get paid while attending the hearings, even if they are on vacation or otherwise off duty.

As in Columbia County, Gay said Richmond County deputies who simply do not show up for the hearings face disciplinary action.

Valerie Rowell

Columbia County GA Times

Georgia DUI Lawyers

Cherokee County Georgia -Police Arrest Man for Fifth DUI Offense

WOODSTOCK, Ga. — A Cobb County man faces his fifth arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol.

According to Cherokee County Police, 37-year-old Mark Douglas registered a blood alcohol content of point-47 – five times the legal limit. In Georgia, a driver is considered intoxicated if the individual exceeds the limit of point-oh-eight.

Douglas was arrested Tuesday in a parking lot. An officer said he was amazed Douglas was “still conscious.”

Police said Douglas was first arrested for DUI 18 years ago. He was placed in jail and awaits a Sept. 23 court date.

Article form FortMillsTimes.com

Driving Under the Influence in GA, Need Legal Help?

Officers On Lookout For Impaired Drivers in GA

Area law enforcement officers and the Georgia State Patrol will be out during the Fourth of July holiday weekend to keep impaired drivers off the road.

The holiday traveling period began at 6 p.m. Thursday and ends at midnight Sunday. Despite higher gasoline prices, which could mean fewer vehicles on the road, the Georgia State Patrol is preparing for a busy holiday weekend.

“The warmer weather and holiday parties tend to increase the number of impaired drivers on our roads,” said Col. Bill Hitchens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “If you will be traveling this holiday period, designate a sober driver before the party begins, give your car keys to the host or make other arrangements to get you home, but by all means don’t drive if you have been consuming alcohol.”

Since Tuesday, any person who receives a fourth driving under the influence charge is considered a felon. The old DUI law allowed the courts a five-year window to capture DUI offenses before handing down tougher punishments. Under the new law, courts get a 10-year window to count up a drunken driver’s convictions.

Georgia’s new DUI law also requires first time offenders to undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation. If the evaluation deems it necessary, the offender must participate in a court-supervised substance abuse treatment program to decrease the likelihood of recurring offenses.

State troopers will be not only maintaining a presence on the interstates, but also concentrating on the secondary roads where the majority of traffic crashes occur, according to the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

Carmen Scarborough of the LaGrange post of the Georgia State Patrol said it couldn’t tell people if troopers will have sobriety checkpoints, but it will have extra patrol units out during the weekend.

“Roads are already starting to get more crowded and backed up, so we will have double crews patrolling the roadways this weekend” she said.

Lt. Lon Russell of the Russell County Sheriff’s Department said deputies will not have sobriety checkpoints, but they will have increased patrols throughout the area.

“If the state troopers set up checkpoints, we have permission to assist with that, and I would be surprised if they didn’t set up any checkpoints,” he said.

In Georgia and Alabama, a driver is considered DUI with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher.

If a person is caught for DUI, getting arrested is not the only step in the process.

After a person is taken into custody, their car is towed, said Chief Deputy Steve Osteen of the Russell County Sheriff’s Department.

Osteen said if a person refuses to take the Breathalyzer test after thearrest, the person has to spend 24 hours in jail. Even if a person wins the case in court, their license is automatically suspended for refusing to take the test.

“Once a person is booked in, their bond starts out at $1,000,” he said. “It depends on how many offenses the person has had.”

Osteen said a person usually has to hire an attorney because they will have to go to court for a DUI case. Even if it is the person’s first offense, their license is suspended.

“It doesn’t matter what offense it is, your license will be taken away,” he said. “In Alabama the third offense is a felony, and in Georgia the fourth offense is a felony.”

Story By Tess Hollis – Ledger-Enquirer.com

Geeorgia DUI Lawyers

New DUI Laws Top List of July 1 Changes

Drivers on Georgia roads will want to take note of changes in laws that make getting certain traffic citations become a felony charge after July 1.

According to Dublin Police Sgt. James Champion, the laws put more “teeth” into the consequences of some traffic violations.

“This is a major change to the DUI law,” said Champion. “The first and second DUIs are misdemeanors but on the third DUI it becomes a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature and on the fourth DUI it is a felony with a fine of up to $2,000 and jail time.”

House Bill 336 also has another clause that will make driving records for DUIs count as far back as 10 years instead of five. This means those who have DUIs older than five years that under the current law would not have been counted, will find themselves with a driving record again.

Champion said the seriousness of DUI becomes more severe if the driver has a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle.

“That’s a separate DUI charge,” he said, explaining that there’s a separate charge for every child in the car under the age of 14 and the law will not allow the tickets to count as one. For example, a driver with three children under the age of 14 in the vehicle could face a felony DUI charge punishable by fines and jail time as well as a permanent record.

Senate Bill 55 leaves no room for a person to drive with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle. The only exception to this law is wine. Champion said if a bottle of wine was opened at a restaurant it must be resealed by the restaurant and the dated receipt attached to it in order to transport it home. This does not apply to beer or liquor.

“If you do not meet those requirements then you will be charged with open container,” he said.

Driving without a license will be costly under any circumstances.

“If you get caught driving without a license normally the fine was $115. Now it’s over $600,” he said.

A citation for driving without a license under the new law requires the person to be fingerprinted and that information kept by the National Criminal Information Center. He said the only exception is if a person is driving on an expired license. In that case the driver will be cited and required to get the license renewed.

Leaving the scene of an accident is never a good idea, especially since the new laws will add stiffer charges to those who do.

“They must do everything possible to get aid if somebody is hurt,” said Champion of those who are involved in an accident. “If they leave the scene and a person dies they can be charged with vehicular homicide which has a prison sentence of no less than three years and no more than 15 years.”

He said even if a driver may think a person is not injured he is obligated to stop and make sure.

“How do you know if somebody is hurt unless you get out and check,” he said.

Don’t even think of telling a judge an appearance wasn’t made in court because there was no notice of a court date.

“When you get that traffic citation that is your service notice,” said Champion, adding all City of Dublin tickets have a date the ticket has to be paid or the person has to appear in court.

“If you fail to take care of that ticket on or before the court date your license will be suspended, and when you get caught driving on a suspended license you’ll be cited for driving with a suspended license,” he said.

Champion said the new laws leave no room for drivers to play around when it comes to not showing up in court.

“You don’t need any note. You know your license could be suspended,” he said, adding the laws are “putting some teeth back into” the consequences for violators.

Story by Stephanie Miller

Dublin Courier Herald Online

Georgia DUI Laws

Top Priority Is Making Sure Fayette County GA Is A Safe

One of the issues I hear about most frequently from citizens in our community is concern about crime and public safety.

One of the primary reasons Fayette County Georgia has such a prosperous past and present is our low crime rate. Parents feel secure raising their children in this community, which has led to us having an extraordinarily family-oriented citizenry in Fayette County.

I was raised in Fayette County and I am now raising my own children in Fayette County. As a legislator, one of my top priorities is ensuring our community continues to be a safe place to live.

The growth of our county has certainly brought challenges that have made the jobs of our local law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges more challenging. It is vital these individuals have every tool possible to continue keeping our community safe from crime.

When I was elected in December I requested the House leadership place me on the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, as this is the committee that authors all of the criminal justice legislation in the House.

I was excited when this request was granted because it put me in a position to have a very hands-on role in shaping public safety legislation during this session of the General Assembly.
With the session just having wrapped up, I am pleased to report we passed several pieces of legislation now awaiting the Governor’s signature that will enhance the safety and security of our children and community.

There is nothing more frightening as a parent than the thought of a criminal targeting your child. Our Committee passed and the General Assembly adopted several pieces of legislation aimed at providing our children additional protections from predators. First, we enacted legislation that will make it unlawful for convicted sex offenders to photograph minors without the explicit consent of the minor’s parents.

The same legislation included a provision that would further prohibit any convicted sex offender from living or working within 1000 feet of places where minors congregate, such as schools and day care centers.

This session we also passed legislation to provide additional protections for children from predators that would seek out victims via the internet. SB 474 requires the Department of Education to develop and implement a program to teach internet safety to children.

The same legislation includes a provision that requires internet providers to make available to parents commercially available technology to monitor their children’s internet activity and block access to undesirable internet sites. These new laws will provide parents and law enforcement officials assistance in the effort to protect our children from those that would do them harm.
Georgia is one of the only states in the country that does not have a felony statute for multiple DUI offenders.

Under current law, an individual can get multiple DUI convictions without the crime ever being elevated above a misdemeanor. House Bill 336, which was authored in my committee and was passed by the House and Senate, provides that fourth and all subsequent DUI convictions will be felonies in the State of Georgia. This will ensure these multiple offenders will be punished in a manner that is appropriate for the crime of repeatedly endangering the lives of Georgia’s driving public.
The arrest and guilty plea of former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has brought attention to the barbaric practice of dog fighting.

I do not think anyone could have imagined that such a horrific activity was still prevalent in our society.

This session the General Assembly passed legislation that will bring tough new penalties for not only individuals engage in dog fighting, but also the spectators that attend such events. Civilized society cannot include such a brutal and corrupt practice as dog fighting and this new law sends a strong message that it will not be tolerated in Georgia.

This is just a sampling of the criminal justice legislation enacted this session by the General Assembly in an effort to enhance the safety of the citizens of Georgia. We are blessed in Fayette County to have dedicated and vigilant public safety officers. As long as I am in the state legislature, I will work to provide those on the front line of law enforcement with every possible tool in the effort to keep our community a safe and wonderful place to live and raise our children.

Matt Ramsey, Fayette County News, Today in Peachtree City

Fayette County GA DUI