The holidays are a fun, hectic, stressful, exciting and busy time of year. They are also a time for parties and gatherings with loved ones, which will often include alcohol. Driving from such gatherings invites a DUI charge which can immediately dampen the cheer of the season. Many people don't realize how severe a DUI charge is, even for those with an otherwise clean record, and it's a charge that can easily be avoided with a little planning.
Consequences for a DUI
Anyone of legal drinking age can be charged with a DUI if they are driving with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. An arrest can occur with a lower blood alcohol concentration, and a person may still be convicted if shown to be a less safe driver. Those found guilty of a DUI conviction face a huge number of penalties that can impact their daily lives for years to come.
First-time offenders face a maximum pennalty of up to a year in jail, large fines, a mandatory DUI program (which also includes fees), about 40 hours of community service, and a license suspension or revocation, which can cost at least $200 to reinstate. Penalties for repeat offenses grow increasingly more severe with each conviction. While maximun penalties are rarely imposed for a first offense, the consequences are still severe.
On top of that, insurance rates will increase and a DUI charge will stay on a criminal record for years to come, which could greatly impact someone's future, such as making it more difficult to seek employment opportunities or even putting current employment in danger.
Can you refuse a sobriety test?
Georgia operates under "implied consent," meaning that, by operating a vehicle, you are consenting to sobriety tests to determine whether you are impaired or not. You can choose to refuse a test, but there are consequences. If you refuse, your license can be suspended for a year. It can also be used against you in your DUI case.
Plan a sober ride ahead of time
The safest option and surest way to avoid a DUI is not to drink and drive at all. However, sober rides need to be planned in advance. Waiting to find one until you are already at a party and have consumed alcohol is not wise, because your decision-making can be impaired. Either have a designated driver who will not be drinking that night, schedule a taxi ahead of time or plan to use Uber, if available, to ensure your safety, and that of others, this holiday season.