In most cases a first-offense DUI in Georgia is a misdemeanor … but the judge can still sentence you to spend up to 12 months in the county jail. But at the very least the law requires you to serve at least 24 hours in jail if your BAC was .08% or higher. Some judges may not make you go back to jail after sentencing, giving you credit for the time you served when you were arrested.
Even if you don't go to jail, a first-offense DUI is still a heavy burden to carry. Your total sentence cannot be shorter than a year, and with a first DUI, you'll likely spend most of that time on probation instead of in jail. While on probation, you'll be required to pay a supervision fee, and your probation officer will monitor you to make sure you're completing all the required terms of your sentence.
But the real burden is financial. Fines range from plus any statutory surcharges (typically 15-25 percent), but the total can almost double once all of the associated costs are added. You will be required to attend the DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program, a 20-hour course that costs $355. This includes the Assessment Component ($100), the Intervention Component ($235) and a workbook ($20) This course is one of the requirements for getting your license reinstated by the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS).
And there's more. You will also be ordered to complete community service work and participate in a clinical evaluation for alcohol or drug dependency. The law requires a minimum of 40 hours of community service unless you are under 21 years of age in which case you must do at least 20 hours. If the clinical evaluator determines you need treatment, you'll have to complete the recommended number of counseling sessions as part of your sentence.
In addition to the financial burden, there are driver's license issues involved. For a first non-drug-related DUI conviction (for drivers over the age of 21), the DDS will suspend your license for 12 months. Depending on your driving history, you might be eligible for a limited permit to drive to and from work and school and other permissible places.
After 120 days, you can request early reinstatement of your license from the DDS by submitting your certificate of completion of a state-approved Risk Reduction Program, and a reinstatement fee of $210 (or $200 if you're requesting reinstatement by mail). If you choose to wait a year, you'll still have to meet these two requirements, no matter how much time has passed since your conviction.
Georgia has zero tolerance when it comes to drivers younger than 21 years old operating motor vehicles with alcohol in their systems. For drivers 15 and younger the first-time penalties are driver's license suspension until are 17, a $210 fee and DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program and all associated costs. For drivers 16 to 20 years old Georgia law requires license suspension for six months (if BAC is under 0.08%) or 12 months (if BAC is 0.08% or higher — with or without an administrative license suspension. There is also a $210 fee and the requirement to attend a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program and all associated costs.
Drug-related DUI offenses carry an even heavier licensing burden. If you were under the influence of drugs alone or alcohol and drugs combined you'll face different rules regarding license suspension. There is no early reinstatement available, and no limited driving permit allowed for a drug DUI. The reinstatement requirements -—Risk Reduction Program and payment of a fee -— are the same as those for an alcohol-related DUI.