If you are facing a first DUI charge in Georgia, understanding the penalties of a DUI conviction may help you determine what you would like to do with your DUI case. There are some types of charges that simply do not merit going all out to fight a case. For some people, a DUI charge may be one of those types of criminal charges. In order to decide whether you would like to retain a DUI lawyer that is an expert in the defense of DUI cases and potentially retain the services of field sobriety or chemical testing expert witnesses, you want to have an understanding of what you will face if you are convicted.
The first thing that you must do if you are trying to determine what the penalties will be if you are convicted of a DUI is to determine what the statutory minimum penalties are if you are convicted of the DUI charge. The statutory mandatory minimum penalties are assessed according to whether the DUI conviction is the 1st within the last 10 years. The 10-year look-back period is measured from the date of arrest for the prior conviction to the date of arrest for the current DUI.
Every person convicted of violating this Code section shall, upon a first or second conviction thereof, be guilty of a misdemeanor, upon a third conviction thereof, be guilty of a high and aggravated misdemeanor, and upon a fourth or subsequent conviction thereof, be guilty of a felony except as otherwise provided in paragraph (4) of this subsection and shall be punished as follows:
(1) First conviction with no conviction of and no plea of nolo contendere accepted to a charge of violating this Code section within the previous ten years, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained or pleas of nolo contendere were accepted to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained or a plea of nolo contendere is accepted:
(A) A fine of not less than $300.00 and not more than $1,000.00, which fine shall not, except as provided in subsection (g) of this Code section, be subject to suspension, stay, or probation;
(B) A period of imprisonment of not fewer than ten days nor more than 12 months, which period of imprisonment may, at the sole discretion of the judge, be suspended, stayed, or probated, except that if the offender’s alcohol concentration at the time of the offense was 0.08 grams or more, the judge may suspend, stay, or probate all but 24 hours of any term of imprisonment imposed under this subparagraph;
(C) Not fewer than 40 hours of community service, except that for a conviction for violation of subsection (k) of this Code section where the person’s alcohol concentration at the time of the offense was less than 0.08 grams, the period of community service shall be not fewer than 20 hours;
(D) Completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program within 120 days following his or her conviction; provided, however, that if the defendant is incarcerated and such program cannot be completed within 120 days, it shall be completed within 90 days of his or her release from custody. The sponsor of any such program shall provide written notice of the Department of Driver Services’ certification of the program to the person upon enrollment in the program;
(E) A clinical evaluation as defined in Code Section 40-5-1 and, if recommended as a part of such evaluation, completion of a substance abuse treatment program as defined in Code Section 40-5-1; provided, however, that in the court’s discretion such evaluation may be waived; and
(F) If the person is sentenced to a period of imprisonment for fewer than 12 months, a period of probation of 12 months less any days during which the person is actually incarcerated.
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391.