Thousands of Georgia citizens go hunting every year, and even more than that are in possession of a handgun for personal protection. We are often asked whether a person convicted of a DUI in Georgia can still own or possess a firearm.
The short answer is yes; you can still own or buy a gun even though you have been arrested or convicted of a DUI. However, if you are convicted of a felony DUI, you lose your right to possess a firearm.
Any person who has been convicted of a felony cannot purchase a firearm in Georgia unless their rights are restored. That is why it is important to know both federal and state DUI laws so that you can know what the applicable consequences are. Under federal law, convicted felons cannot legally possess a firearm, but some states do allow convicted felons to after a certain amount of time has passed. However, that is very rare, and most states do not ever allow convicted felons to possess or own a firearm.
In Georgia, Driving Under the Influence charges are usually misdemeanor offenses, but there are certain situations DUI can be charged as a felony offense. Misdemeanor convictions bring the possibility of getting your license suspended along with affecting your ability to obtain a job, credit, or housing. They also can have fines of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail.
However, a felony conviction carries much more severe consequences. Felonies are punishable by a year or more of incarceration. Convicted felons may lose the right to vote, the ability to own and possess firearms, and the conviction may affect their ability to obtain employment.
Usually, Georgia considers DUIs as misdemeanor offenses but moves them into the felony category when there has been a fourth or subsequent DUI within ten years. However, only convictions on or after July 1, 2008, are considered for this purpose. Also, driving after being declared a Habitual Violator is also considered a felony in Georgia. Furthermore, when someone is killed by a DUI driver or seriously injured, they the driver will also face felony charges for Vehicular Homicide or Serious Injury by Vehicle.
Every state treats DUI convictions differently, so it is important to know and understand the law for the state you live in. Some states consider DUI a felony after the second DUI conviction meaning you could lose your ability to own a handgun much sooner than in Georgia. Also, even though Georgia has a ten-year look back for enhancement of punishment, other states do not have that rule. Knowing the consequences of a crime will help you be an informed citizen!
In sum, you can own a firearm in Georgia if convicted of DUI. However, if it was a felony conviction, then you will likely not be able to purchase or possess one.
If you have any questions about Georgia DUI law or are seeking a DUI lawyer, contact the office of Lawson and Berry. Put our more than 20 years' experience to work for you today.