Unlike in other states, thankfully our legislature is part-time. It convenes the second Monday of January and ends 40 days later. This is good news. The less time they are in session, the less they can pass laws that serve no purpose.
Endless Revisions of Georgia’s DUI Laws:
In my 21 years as a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I have seen multiple changes to our DUI laws:
- We have changed the penalties multiple times.
- We have eliminated the usefulness of the Nolo Contender plea for first offenders
- We have increased mandatory punishments.
- We have increased the "look back" period where increases in penalties are required.
- We have changed the rules of evidence and procedure more than once.
- We have given prosecutors the final argument at trial.
- We have liberalized how many mistakes a police officer can make and still get a conviction.
- We have added DUI Courts and other accountability courts
- We have added ignition interlock requirements for people who have had more than one DUI
- We have added to the felony DUI law for defendants who have had four DUI's since 2008.
- We have made it easier for the State to initiate civil forfeiture of a person's automobile against a habitual violator.
- We have made it easier for probation officers to revoke or modify a person's probation.
- We have essentially taken away a person's right to refuse a chemical test by allowing police officers to get a warrant for a person's blood.
During the 2016 legislative session, multiple changes were made to our DUI laws. However, the work was rushed, and all interested parties realized the new law was a complete mess. There were changes to both the criminal and administrative consequences.
Luckily, the effective date of the legislation was set for July 1st, 2017. Clearly, the Georgia General Assembly understood the work was incomplete. When the legislature meets, they will continue to work on what they started during the 2016 session. Hopefully, they will be considerate of the rights of the accused, while at the same time taking into consideration DUI enforcement. Buckle up; it's going to be an interesting ride.