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Georgia's capital and largest city, Atlanta is a major Southern financial and cultural force and the focus of a metropolitan statistical area that covers more than 6,000 square miles and includes more than 110 municipalities. People from all over the country, joined by immigrants from other lands, have flocked to Atlanta's mild climate, physical beauty, and job opportunities. Offering Old South graciousness blended with an ambitious zest for expansion and dominance, Atlanta has assumed an important position in national and international commerce. Ted Turner, one of the city's well-known citizens, has declared that Atlanta has "absolutely everything going for it—climate, location, great transportation, easy air access, and a government that's both cooperative and supportive." This is a judgment widely shared by both residents and visitors.

This Summary of Georgia DUI law only pertains to the criminal offense of DUI. Any administrative (non-criminal) license suspension penalties are covered in the section on administrative suspensions. As a general rule, if a person age 21 and over suffers an administrative license "suspension" penalty under Georgia’s administrative suspension statute, credit for time under suspension is given for any later license suspension that may result from a conviction on criminal charges. The new "revocation" rules for persons under age 21 at the time of arrest will not permit similar treatment for these drivers.

This Summary also covers the JUDICIAL penalties for the criminal offense of DUI. Many other non-judicial penalties will inevitably follow a DUI nolo contendere plea, guilty plea or conviction. These can include increased insurance cost (or cancellation of coverage), inability to rent cars, restrictions on travel to other countries, loss of security clearance, job barriers, possible loss of professional credentials or certifications, etc. These non-judicial or economic penalties are not addressed in this Summary. At your FREE interview, these issues will be addressed.

TWO TYPES OF DUI-ALCOHOL: In a "traditional" DUI case, the State must prove that the driver was a less safe driver as a result of alcohol consumed. This type of case can be pursued even if no alcohol content test result exists from a blood, breath or urine test. A test result would not exist, for example, when a person had refused testing. Whenever a person has taken a blood, breath, or urine test, the State also will attempt to introduce evidence of the quantitative result. To "help" the prosecutor prove "less safe" driving, the legislature passed a law that permits a prosecutor to benefit from certain "legal" inferences about any alcohol "level" if proven in court. Under prior law (before July 1, 2001) a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher was the level of "inferred" impairment for all drivers. A change in the wording of the law appears to have eliminated that “inference,” which gave the prosecutor an advantage at trial. Georgia law also sets forth other "inferences" in the law, including the fact that persons who have a blood alcohol level of .05 or under are inferred (presumed) to NOT be impaired by alcohol. However, the State can attempt to refute that inference ("presumption") of non-impairment by other proof (e.g., a collision, atrocious driving, disregard for the safety of others, slurred speech, etc.). If a person is 0.06 or 0.07, neither the driver nor the prosecutor is given the benefit of an "inference." In other words, "the BAC number" does not receive a legislated "inference" for EITHER side.

The second way that the State may attempt to prove some DUI cases [where there is a chemical sobriety test result (blood, breath or urine) over the applicable legal limit] is known by lawyers as the "per se" DUI-alcohol offense. It would be more accurate to call this driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level. To prove this type of DUI-alcohol, the State does not need to prove any "less safe" driving or any "drunken" condition. The offense is committed simply by having an unlawful blood alcohol level and "operating" an automobile. For persons charged under paragraph 5 of subsection "a" of the DUI law (the adult standard), the prohibited "level" is 0.08 grams % or more. Before July 1, 2001, the adult standard was 0.10 grams % or more. For persons charged under subsection "k" (for drivers under age 21 at the time of the arrest who take a blood or breath alcohol test), the "per se" limit is now only 0.02 grams % (as little as one drink). For persons charged under subsection "i" of the DUI code (for persons driving a commercial vehicle who take a blood or breath alcohol test), the "per se" level is 0.04 grams %. For all "per se" calculations, the State is allowed to use a test taken by police within three (3) hours of driving, when the alcohol in the person’s system was consumed BEFORE the driving ended.

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