3 things you should know about DUI convictions in Georgia

The holiday season carries so many expectations: quality time with family and close friends, gift exchanges, and yes, invitations to at least a few parties. It's a hectic, fast-paced time of year, which means that most of us also feel some amount of stress and possibly even depression amid the shopping and celebrating.

Whatever your state of mind is at this time of year, you may find yourself with a festive cocktail in hand more often. Therefore, it's important to be mindful of the consequences of driving while intoxicated. Most drivers are aware that driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of more than .08 percent is illegal. But there's much more you need to know.

1. Every DUI conviction results in a suspended license. But you may be eligible for a permit that allows you to drive in very limited circumstances, such as to and from work, doctor appointments, school, or drug and alcohol treatment, support groups or classes. A judge will decide whether you qualify. If you do, it's important to follow the strict guidelines of the permit or it will be revoked and you'll face further penalties. If you don't qualify for a limited driving permit, you cannot drive during the suspension period.

2. Even a first offense carries fines and possible jail time. Many people wrongly assume that someone with an otherwise spotless driving record won't face serious penalties after a drunk-driving arrest. But even an initial conviction can carry up to a year of jail time and thousands of dollars in fines. First offenses also come with mandatory community service, participation in an alcohol or drug intervention program, and a license reinstatement fee - not to mention a steep increase in your auto insurance premiums.


3. Don't assume you should plead guilty (or not guilty). You may have a friend or relative with a past DUI incident who is eager to give you legal advice based on their own experience. Never assume that advice will apply to your case. Instead, consult an attorney with experience in DUI defense. A skilled lawyer can challenge evidence and procedures used in your arrest by working with forensic experts. In many cases charges and sentences can be reduced.

The bottom line: If you've been arrested and accused of driving under the influence in Georgia, act immediately by finding an attorney who can prepare you for the full range of consequences.

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