Drunk Driving and Georgia DUI Laws
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), some of the leading causes of road accidents include drunk driving and drug-impaired driving.
Driving while drunk or intoxicated is dangerous because it can impair your vision and sense of judgment. It can also result in reduced muscle coordination making detecting and reacting to dangerous and emergency driving situations more difficult or even impossible.
At alcohol levels of 0.08% in the blood, vision, hearing and reaction time becomes poor, it’s harder to detect danger, and self-control becomes impaired. These effects can result in reduced response to emergency driving situations, difficulty steering, as well as reduced ability to track moving objects.
Driving in such circumstances or with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is dangerous because you put yourself and every other road user in danger. It is also a serious offense in Georgia, especially when it results in serious bodily injury or death to someone. If that happens, you could be faced with a felony conviction and the harsh penalties that go with it.
If you or your loved one is currently dealing with an Atlanta felony DUI charge, it is important to have the right information to know what you’re up against. You might need to consult with an Atlanta felony DUI lawyer to get specific answers to your question and help with your DUI defense. Keep reading to learn more about a felony DUI in Georgia and how a felony DUI attorney can help you.
When Does a DUI Become a Felony in Atlanta?
Felonies are severe offenses and usually attract the most severe penalties in the criminal justice system.
DUIs in Atlanta, Georgia, are generally classified as misdemeanor offenses depending on how frequently they occur. For instance, a first-time DUI is usually charged as a misdemeanor offense. Generally, the second DUI offense is also treated as a misdemeanor, while the third is considered a high and aggravated misdemeanor.
However, a fourth DUI conviction within ten years is a felony under the Georgia law.
DUI Child Endangerment
If there is a child under the age of 14 as a passenger in your vehicle at the time of the DUI arrest, you will be charged with two separate DUI offenses. In other words, you will be facing increased penalties for multiple DUI convictions. If there are two children younger than 14 in your vehicle, you may be declared a habitual violator, if convicted.
DUI child endangerment is taken very seriously, and the third or subsequent conviction of child endangerment will result in felony charges.
Serious Injury by Vehicle
A DUI charge also becomes a felony offense if the driver kills or severely injures someone while driving under the influence. The Georgia Code defines serious injury to mean any injury that:
- Causes the victim to lose a part of their body
- Renders the victim’s body useless
- Causes disfigurement of the victim’s body or body part
- Causes the victim to suffer brain damage
When serious injury or death occurs due to a DUI, whether the accused intended death or injury is irrelevant. The accused person would need to focus on establishing a suitable defense, usually with the help of a felony lawyer in Atlanta, or be exposed to the full wrath of the law if convicted.
Penalties for Felony DUI Convictions in Georgia
Felony DUI charges are subject to several life-changing penalties upon conviction, including:
- Payment of fines of not less than $1,000.00 and not more than $5,000.00
- Imprisonment of not less than one year and not more than five years
- Community service for not less than 60 days
- Completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program within 120 days following a DUI conviction
- Mandatory clinical evaluation for alcohol or drug dependency and completion of a substance abuse treatment program
- Probation for five years.
Additional DUI felony conviction penalties include 60 days or 480 hours of community service and attending a DUI school. However, all community service may be suspended if the driver is sentenced to serve at least 3 years in jail.
Felony DUI offenses often attract other penalties, including a mandatory license suspension and compulsory purchase and installation of an ignition interlock device on the offender’s car. The convicted driver will also be required to surrender license plates to all vehicles registered in their name.
If you’re facing a felony DUI charge, your mugshot may also be published in the newspaper, which could severely damage your reputation. Furthermore, a felony DUI conviction remains on your record. It could make it difficult for you to be hired for specific jobs, hold certain professional licenses, receive approval for a loan or mortgage, or enter college.
The only way to avoid these negative aftereffects of a felony DUI conviction apart from not driving under the influence is to successfully defend yourself in court. To achieve this, you might need the help of an Atlanta criminal lawyer to improve your chances in court.
How Can Atlanta Felony DUI Attorneys Help You?
An experienced Atlanta felony DUI attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your arrest, ensure your rights are protected and defend you against drunk driving charges.
With their knowledge of Georgia DUI law, they may be able to reduce your drunk driving charges and, in some cases, even have them dismissed outrightly. Your attorney can also represent you in every stage of the trial and even on appeal if necessary.
If you need an attorney for your felony DUI in Atlanta, we at Chehimi Law would love to help. We’ve developed a working strategy over the years that allows us to thoroughly review our client’s cases. This approach has helped us set up robust DUI defenses for them, and if you contact us, we might be able to do the same for you.
Call us at (470) 468-2119 or contact us to schedule a free consultation with a skilled reckless driving attorney today.