You might be surprised to learn how many people get multiple DUIs, then again, you might not. If you're in the former category then this article may serve some novel purpose and as a warning to just get an Uber. If you're in the latter category then this may be some good information to reference. That said, this is not specific legal advice for your situation and is not a complete guide to the law. The laws change (frequently) and there are many nuances that are gleaned over in this article. It is best to talk directly to an attorney about your specific situation in order to get proper advice about your case.
This article will look at Georgia's laws that punish DUI's ranging from a first DUI to a fourth DUI (or more). There's two important time-frames that you need to think about when counting your DUIs for this. How many DUI convictions you have had in the last 10 years (for sentencing in court) and how many DUI convictions you have had in the last 5 years (for the Ignition Interlock requirement). The final point that this article will address is the option of DUI Court in Cobb County – an alternative to the strict statute that allows you to exchange some of normal fines and community service for an intensive treatment-oriented probation program.
By law, a DUI sentence from a judge will include:
Jail – time spent incarcerated, usually in county lockup. The time you spent in the drunk-tank or until you bonded-out counts toward this. The judge can allow some of the jail sentence to be served on probation.
Fine – a range of monetary amounts that the court orders you to pay.
Community Service – hours working for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity.
Probation – even after jail-time, statute requires a term of probation where you answer to the court through the probation office and your assigned probation officer (PO). Your PO will make sure that you abide by the terms of the probation or else they will put you in jail for some time.
Risk reduction course and drug and alcohol evaluation (RR+DA) – The risk reduction courses are the “DUI school”s you see around the city, they cost about $250 or more. The drug and alcohol evaluation is an interview with a clinical psychiatrist to see if you have any potential dependency issues and then he/she may recommend some treatment, the evaluation costs between $100 and $300 and you'll usually have to pay for any treatment. The treatment is reported to your PO and wrapped into the terms of probation.
Ignition interlock device (IID) – an apparatus that attaches to the electrical systems of your car that prevents you from starting your car if you've had any alcohol. The device tests your breath via a tube that you blow into prior to starting your car. Some will take your picture, some will have you blow a few times over the course of your drive. The device can then send a report (and sometimes a picture) to the company that installed the device for an employee to review and report to the courts if there are any irregularities. If you have more than one DUI in 5 years then the court will require an IID. The IID requirement attaches to your license through the Department of Drivers Services (DDS). Because this requirement is enforced through the DDS it will not end with your probation. An IID hold on your license from Georgia can last indefinitely. Ignition interlock waivers are not the subject of this article and you should talk to an attorney directly about clearing any DDS holds (especially IIDs) on your license.
Cobb County DUI Court – an alternative to the strict statute that allows you to exchange some of normal fines and community service for an intensive treatment-oriented probation. There are a number of requirements to get into DUI court but you at least need to be facing your 2nd DUI in 10 years or 3rd DUI in your lifetime, and charges that could support a 2 year sentence.
“DUI Court is a voluntary, post-conviction, treatment-based program for those who have been convicted multiple times for driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The DUI Court program offers enhanced supervision, counseling, and treatment to help participants function in the community with continuing support. The program lasts a minimum of 12 months; however, most participants will require more than 12 months to complete the program, so a sentence of at least 24 months is mandatory.”
The program costs $75 a week ($3900 a year) and is divided into 5 phases. The goal is to move up the phases until you graduate, if you misbehave then the supervisors can send you back down the phases or even put you in jail. It lasts between one and two years depending on how quickly you can move up the phases, but it rarely (if ever) lasts the minimum amount of time. The program includes meetings multiple times a week and constant oversight. In exchange for this long and intensive program, it offers affordable treatment, potentially less jail time, fines cut in half, and 200 hours credit for community service.
Often it seems that officers will pull someone over, learn about a prior DUI, then just assume that the person is under the influence. This leads to the person getting arrested and facing significantly increased punishment and a much more aggressive prosecution than in the prior DUI(s). Further, certain rules of evidence and procedure will make new legal hurdles to overcome in order to win when a person has a prior DUI. It is extremely important that a person in this position get an attorney immediately who understands the complexities of defending someone with prior DUIs. Give me a call, I want to help.