Georgia's Tough New DUI Law Takes Effect July 1

Monday, June 30, 2008

As of July 1, Georgia has a tough new DUI law on the books. It is here just in time to kick-off Georgia’s Operation Zero Tolerance statewide DUI crackdown, Jim Shuler, director of public affairs of Governor's Office of Highway Safety, said.

During the 2008 legislative session, the Georgia House and Senate passed House Bill 336, creating a felony-level DUI charge for those repeat offenders who have stacked up four drunk-driving convictions on their 10-year driving record rap-sheets. With this change in Georgia law, multiple DUI arrests can now lead to felony convictions against Georgia’s worst case high-risk violators.

Director Bob Dallas of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety said, "Long-awaited by DUI crash victims and grieving family survivors, HB 336 is truly regarded as lifesaving DUI law for Georgia. This landmark legislation carries heavier fines, mandatory offender evaluations and jail times, stricter probation, and longer community service penalties.

“It should make any responsible driver think twice before ever climbing behind the wheel while impaired.”

For the first time, Georgia’s new DUI law requires first-time offenders to undergo drug and alcohol evaluation. And if that evaluation deems necessary, the offenders must participate in strict, court-supervised substance-abuse treatment to decrease the likelihood of recurring offenses. (Under the old law, drug and alcohol evaluations were only required for second and subsequent offenses.) But when those DUI offenders have been convicted a fourth time, the law is designed for public safety priorities to kick-in with mandatory felony jail time for violators.

While it was still pending, the legislation had the endorsement of GOHS, MADD, and the State District Attorney’s Association. Bill sponsor, State Rep. Kevin Levitas (D-Atlanta) is himself a former prosecutor who perceived the random fatalities involving drunk drivers as more dangerous to the public and more frequent than the murder rate, it was stated.

“Sadly in murder cases, victims and perpetrators often know each other. But there is this randomness to DUI deaths where a car just suddenly crosses over lanes of highway and without warning kills someone on their way to church or school,” said Rep. Levitas.

“Few people realize there’s research that shows people drive drunk 87 times before being caught for one DUI. “Just try to calculate in your head how many times these multiple offenders may have driven drunk before they were caught the fourth time and charged and convicted under the old law. It’s time we got their attention.”

“Until HB 336 was passed, even four-time shoplifting offenders were treated as felons under Georgia law, but a fourth-time DUI was still just a misdemeanor here,” said MADD-Georgia State Executive Director Denise Thames. “Georgia was one of only five states left with no DUI felony law. Now we have serious consequences for those repeat offenders. A third time DUI offender needs a tough message and it should include more than just a few days of jail time.”

Georgia’s new felony DUI law applies to offenses occurring on or after July 1, 2008. Under its provisions:

First and Second DUI Convictions are treated as misdemeanors..
Third DUI Convictions are treated as high and aggravated misdemeanors..
Fourth or Subsequent Convictions committed within 10 years are treated as felonies.

The following is a summary of HB 336 and not meant as a technical interpretation of the law.

First Time DUI convictions carry these penalties:

Fines ranging from $300.00 to $1,000.00
A period of imprisonment from ten days to 12 months (judge may probate all but 24 hours of jail time)

A minimum of 40 hours of Community Service for DUI at .08 BAC or above/
Or a minimum of 20 hours of Community Service for DUI below .08 BAC

Completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program
A clinical evaluation and completion of any necessary treatment
12 months of probation, less any jail time served

Second Time DUI convictions carry these penalties:

Fines ranging from $600.00 to $1,000.00
A period of imprisonment from 90 days to 12 months (offender must serve 72 hours of actual jail time)
A minimum of 30 days of Community Service
Completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program
A clinical evaluation and completion of any necessary treatment
12 months of probation, less any jail time served

Third Time DUI convictions carry these penalties:

Fines ranging from $1,000.00 to $5,000.00
Period of imprisonment from 120 days to 12 months (offender must serve 15 days of actual jail time)
A minimum of 30 days of community service
Completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program
A clinical evaluation and completion of any necessary treatment
12 months of probation, less any jail time served

Fourth Time or subsequent DUI convictions carry these penalties:

Fines ranging from $1,000.00 to $5,000.00
A period of imprisonment from one to five years (offender must serve three months of actual jail time)
A minimum of 60 days of Community Service
Completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction Program
A clinical evaluation and completion of any necessary treatment
5 years of probation, less any jail time served.



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