Explaining Georgia DUI Laws


Over the last decade Georgia has understandably gotten tough on DUIs. The results have been higher arrest rates and lower alcohol impaired driving fatalities. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, alcohol related fatalities in Georgia dropped from a high of 454 in 2007 to 277 in 2011. With local police and highway patrol putting such an emphasis on seeking out impaired drivers, it’s important to understand DUI/DWI laws in Georgia.

What is a DUI/DWI in Georgia? The definition depends on the driver. If a driver is 21 years old or older operating a regular passenger vehicle, a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher is considered driving under the influence. If a driver is 21 years old or older driving a commercial vehicle, a BAC of .04% or higher will get you arrested for DUI. Georgia has “Zero Tolerance” laws for drivers under the age of 21. A driver under 21 years old will be arrested with as little as .02% BAC.

What are the penalties for DUI in Georgia? Georgia classifies a first-offense DUI/DWI as a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison. Lesser penalties include a $300- $1000 fine, suspension or restriction of ones driver’s license up to a year, $210 reinstatement fee, DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program, and mandatory 40 hours of community service. A second offense within 5 years brings with it severe consequences including: 18 month – 3 year license suspension, $600-$1000 fine, clinical evaluation, minimum 30 days community service, minimum 48 hours in jail and possible sentence of 90 days to 1 year, among other penalties. On your third DUI offense, the Georgia DMV gives you Habitual Violator (HV) status and revokes your license for 5 years and confiscates your license plate. You will be forced to spend at least 15 days in jail and do at least 30 days of community service. Georgia law doesn’t look kindly to habitual violators and the penalties are severe.

Georgia DUI Penalties:

Up to one year in prison
$300- $1000 fine
License suspension of up to a year
$210 license reinstatement fee
DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program
Mandatory 40 hours of community service
Second Offense in 5 years:
Minimum 48 hours in jail
90 day – 1 year prison sentence
$600-$1000 fine
Minimum 30 days community service
DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program
Third Offense in 5 years:
Habitual Violator (HV) status and revokes your license for 5 years and confiscates your license plate
$1000-$5000 fine
At least 15 days in jail
Minimum 30 days of community service
Ignition interlock device and habitual violator probationary license with court permission (usually after 2 years)
Your name, address, and photo published in your local newspaper
What is Georgia’s “Implied Consent” law? If you are arrested for driving under the influence, Georgia law requires you to take a breath, blood, or urine test. The “implied consent” law states that if you are arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you have been driving under the influence, then, by driving on Georgia roadways, you consent to taking a chemical test of your breath, blood, or urine to determine your blood alcohol level. If you refuse to take the test, you license will automatically be suspended for one year and your refusal can be used against you in court. You can request a hearing to challenge the suspension within 30 days of the refusal. Even if your license is suspended, you can get it reinstated one month after suspension begins if you complete an alcohol and drug-use reduction program and pay a fine.

What effects will a DUI have on my car insurance? Unfortunately, a DUI conviction will most likely cause your insurance premium to greatly increase and your policy may even be canceled in some cases. Some insurance companies will consider you a high risk driver and refuse to insure you.

The best way to avoid the ramifications of a DUI is to NEVER DRIVE DRUNK.

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