Georgia DUI Laws & Penalties
While teenagers should never be drinking in the first place, drinking and driving is a worse offense, one that the State of Georgia harshly punishes. Before you drink and drive, you should be aware of the consequences.
Legal BAC Limit
Georgia operates under a "zero tolerance" policy, which means drivers under 21 years old cannot have a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) above .02%. If you are charged with a DUI, the penalties change depending on your BAC level. If you are above .08%, you will face the same charges as an adult.
DUI Penalties for Georgia Driver Under 21 Years Old
|BAC Level||Initial Fines||License Suspension||Jail Time||Community Service|
|1st Offense||.02%–.08%||$300–$1,000||6 months*||24 hours to 12 months||20 hours**|
|2nd Offense||.02%–.08%||$600–$1,000||18 months||72 hours to 12 months||30 days|
|3rd Offense||.02%–.08%||$1,000–$5,000||5 years||15 days to 12 months||30 days|
|1st Offense||Above .08%||Up to $1,000||Up to 1 year||Up to 1 year||40 hours|
|2nd Offense||Above .08%||Up to $1,000||Up to 3 years||Up to 1 year||40 hours|
|3rd Offense||Above .08%||$1,000–$5,000||Up to 5 years||Up to 1 year||40 hours|
*If you are 15 years old or younger, your license will be suspended until you turn 17 years old. If it is your second offense, your license is suspected until you are 18-years old.
**As a minor, your community service requirements must be met within 60 days of your sentence.
Additional penalties and costs
Most of these charges come with additional punishments. For all of them, you serve a probationary period and are usually required to take a 20-hour DUI course or attend substance abuse treatment. You may also be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). These costs must come from your own pocket and are not included in the estimated fees listed above.
Refusing the chemical or blood test
Georgia operates under an implied consent law, which means if you are lawfully arrested under suspension of a DUI, you've already consented to a breathalyzer test.
The state of Georgia has two breathalyzer tests. The first is usually administered with a portable device and gives out inaccurate readings. However, the results of this test cannot be used against you in court. Often, the officer won't even offer it. You can refuse the road-side test without facing any penalties. Usually, a refusal will result in you being driven to the local police station.
The second is an in-station breathalyzer test. If you refuse this test, the refusal will go on your record and your license will be suspended for a year. Refusing the test will also result in an automatic revocation of your license, though the officer will give you a 30-day temporary one (if applicable). On top of all of that, if you've refused the in-station test the officer can get a warrant and conduct a blood test anyways.
This being the case, it behooves you to cooperate with the law, since a refusal can only hurt you and will not protect you from the DUI charge.
If you have been convicted of a DUI for the first or second time, you may be eligible for a hardship license. This would allow you to drive to essential functions like work or school while waiting for your license to be reinstated.
After you've paid the fees and served your time, a DUI is a criminal offense that will remain on your record. You will have to disclose the DUI to potential employers, who have the right to deny you a job because of the DUI. Colleges also have the right to refuse you admittance into the school or to expel you.
When you drink as a minor, you're already breaking the law. Should you get behind while under the influence, you are endangering yourself and the people around you. Should you damage something or someone while driving drunk, the penalties will increase too. In the end, DUIs are not worth the risk.