Georgia may be nicknamed after a stone fruit, but there's nothing "peachy" about getting a DUI conviction in this state. This is especially the case in Augusta. If you or someone you know has been arrested by the Richmond County Sheriff or the Georgia State Patrol for driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both, you're probably wondering what will happen next.
Here are some things to know if you've been arrested and charged with a DUI in Augusta.
Georgia DUI Charges
In Augusta, there are two ways a driver can be in violation of DUI laws:
Tell Me More about Georgia's DUI Laws
You can be in violation of the DUI laws if you are considered "under the influence." Here, the Office of the Solicitor General for Richmond County would need to prove that you were driving a vehicle after having consumed alcohol or drugs, or a combination of those, and that this made you unable to safely operate your vehicle with the care and caution of a sober person. You can be found guilty of DUI even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is less than 0.08. This often happens if field sobriety tests show you are mentally or physically impaired.
The second way you can be in violation of the law is if your blood or breath alcohol content registers as 0.08 or more on a test. When that happens, it gives rise to a fancy legal phrase called a "rebuttable presumption." Basically, this boils down to the idea that if a defendant's BAC is .08 or higher, it may mean the defense has a tougher case on its hands.
Georgia DUIs Carry Two Separate Penalties
If you are arrested for a DUI, you'll likely have to deal with both a criminal case and a license suspension. The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) will handle your license suspension pursuant to the implied consent laws and Augusta criminal courts will administer your criminal penalties. These are two separate and distinct processes that don't rely on each other.
Potential DUI Consequences
The courts impose criminal penalties including:
The DDS imposes administrative penalties including suspension or revocation of your license.
Here's a look at some of the penalties. Remember, the higher your BAC, the more severe your penalties may be. Multiple convictions will also result in harsher sentences. Here are a couple of examples illustrating the wide differences in possible penalties:
What If I Refuse the Blood or Breath Test?
If someone refuses the required test, their driving privileges may be revoked for one year. However, if it is their first DUI, they can apply for a hardship license after 30 days. They'll have to complete alcohol and drug-use risk reduction program and pay a fee, however.
Underage DUI in Georgia
If you are under 21 and arrested for DUI, you're in for some stiff penalties. Georgia has zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving.
Your driver's license will be revoked for 6 months if any trace of alcohol is found in your system. If your BAC is more than 0.08, you'll receive administrative and criminal penalties as an adult driver.
An Augusta DUI conviction will go on your Georgia driving and criminal record. You may be able to get your DUI arrest restricted from your criminal record after a period of time, but only under specific and narrow circumstances. Contact the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to learn more.
The Bottom Line on Augusta DUIs
Remember, it's best to never drink or use drugs and drive. If you are impaired and don't have a designated driver, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation. If you do find yourself facing a DUI, you may wish to contact an Augusta criminal defense lawyer.
Contact a qualified attorney.