Have You Been Charged With Felony DUI in Georgia?
In Georgia, Driving Under the Influence charges are generally misdemeanor offenses, but in certain circumstances, DUI can be charged as a felony offense. Facing criminal charges can be especially troubling because a conviction could potentially follow you for the rest of your life. Having any type of criminal record no matter your age can bring the possibility of a license suspension, expulsion from school as well as affect your ability to get into college, qualify for financial aid and student loans, auto insurance, renting an apartment, qualify for credit, and affect your future employment opportunities. A felony conviction, though, carries much more severe consequences than a misdemeanor. Felonies are punishable by a year or more of incarceration. Convicted felons may lose the right to vote, hold public office, the ability to own and possess firearms; and could affect the person's ability to gain employment.
Richard Lawson has been defending Felony DUI Cases throughout Atlanta, Metro-Atlanta, North Georgia, and throughout Georgia for more than 25 years. He is a Former Georgia Prosecutor who was trained by the same people who are prosecuting the case against you. He is Georgia's top-rated lawyer. His reviews can be found on AVVO. You only have 30 days to act to save your license.
Felony DUI 30 Day Warning:
In Georgia, you only have 30 days to protect your right to drive and to protect your freedom. Your Georgia DUI Lawyer must file for an ALS Hearing, or you will lose your license. This filing should only be done by a qualified Georgia DUI Attorney. Even if your license is already suspended, the 30 day letter can potentially help you get your license back sooner by preventing a new license suspension on top of your current suspension.
FOURTH GEORGIA DUI IN 10 YEAR PERIOD
A fourth Georgia DUI or subsequent DUI within 10 years is a felony offense in Georgia, but only convictions on or after July 1, 2008 are considered for this purpose. The maximum penalty for a fourth DUI conviction in Georgia within 10 years is 5 years in jail and a $5,000.00 fine plus court surcharges. The minimum penalty is a one year jail sentence of which all but 90 days can be probated, with credit for any time served after arrest, and a $1,000.00 fine. The judge can suspend half of the fine if you undergo an alcohol or drug treatment program approved by the court. Other mandatory requirements are 60 days (480 hours) community service, DUI school, 5 years probation less any time served in jail, a clinical evaluation and any recommended substance abuse treatment. All community service can be suspended if you are sentenced to serve 3 years in jail or more.
If your fourth Georgia DUI is also your third Georgia DUI or subsequent DUI within 5 years, you will also be subject to a $25.00 fee to publish a notice of your conviction and your photograph in your county newspaper. You will also be required to surrender the license plates to any vehicle registered in your name.
HABITUAL VIOLATOR IN GEORGIA
Any person convicted of a third or subsequent DUI within 5 years or any combination of three of the predicate offenses including fleeing or attempting to elude, racing, leaving the scene of an accident, DUI, homicide by vehicle, serious injury by vehicle, or fraudulent or fictitious use or application for a driver's license, will be declared a habitual violator. “Habitual violator” is a status and is not a criminal offense in and of itself. You may be declared a habitual violator after convictions stemming from separate incidents or after only one incident involving three or more predicate offenses if convicted of at least three of those charges. This means that if you were arrested and charged with DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, and racing with all charges stemming from the same incident, you would be declared a habitual violator if convicted.
A habitual violator will have his or her license revoked for a 5 year period. You will be given credit for any administrative suspension time incurred if you are 21 or older. After 2 years, you can apply for a probationary license to use for the remaining 3 year revocation period that may have restrictions as to the places, routes, and times you are allowed to travel. If you violate the terms of your probationary license, it will be revoked and you cannot reapply for a regular driver's license until the original 5 year revocation period has ended or for 2 years – whichever period is greater. A habitual violator revocation does not age off your record, but will remain in effect until you pay a reinstatement fee and provide proof of completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Course (DUI School).
Certain offenses are charged as felonies if committed after being declared a habitual violator. While driving with a suspended or revoked license is typically a misdemeanor offense, if you are convicted of operating a vehicle while your license is revoked due to your status as a habitual violator before you have been issued a valid driver's license or before the expiration of the five year revocation period, you will be guilty of a felony punishable by one to five years incarceration and a minimum fine of $750.00. Only driving is required, it does not need to be proven that you committed any other violation.
If you were declared a habitual violator after being convicted of violating Georgia's DUI law three or more times in five years and are then convicted of operating a vehicle during the five year revocation period and before you have been issued a probationary license you will be guilty of the felony of habitual impaired driving which is punishable by incarceration for one to five years and a minimum fine of $1,000.00.
If you violate any of the Georgia DUI laws or any of the driving offenses requiring a mandatory license suspension while driving on a probationary driver's license, you will be guilty of a felony and punished by a minimum fine of $1,000.00 and one to five years incarceration, or if the violation was a felony offense itself, you shall be punished as is provided for such offense.
Any person with a probationary driver's license who violates the conditions of his probationary license, or is convicted of any offense requiring a mandatory license suspension, will have his probationary license revoked and will not be eligible for a full reinstatement of his driving privileges until the expiration of the original five year revocation period or for a period of two years following the conviction of the new offense – whichever is greater.
If you cause the death of another person by operating a motor vehicle after being declared a habitual violator and while your driver's license is revoked, you will face charges of First Degree Vehicular Homicide which is punishable by not less than 5 years, nor more than 20 years in prison. The sentence may be suspended or probated, but not until you have served a minimum of one year of incarceration.
CHILD ENDANGERMENT IN GEORGIA
In Georgia, if you are arrested for DUI while a child under the age of 14 is a passenger in the vehicle, you will also be charged with the separate offense of endangering a child. You will be charged with one count of child endangerment for each child under the age of 14 present in your vehicle at the time of arrest.
Georgia Child Endangerment is considered a separate DUI offense. This means that if you are arrested for DUI while a child under the age of 14 is a passenger in your vehicle you will be charged with two separate DUI offenses and will be facing increased penalties for multiple DUI convictions within a 5 year period including increased jail time and a significantly longer license suspension. This also means that if you are arrested for DUI while driving with two children under the age of 14 in your vehicle, if convicted you may be declared a habitual violator.
A third or subsequent conviction of child endangerment will be charged as a felony and is punishable by incarceration for one to three years and a fine of $1,000.00 to $5,000.00 plus court surcharges. Even if you have never before been charged with a crime, if you are arrested for DUI while three children under the age of 14 are riding with you, you will be charged with three separate DUI offenses and if convicted you will be guilty of a felony.
SERIOUS INJURY BY VEHICLE
In Georgia, you may face the charge of Serious Injury by Vehicle if you cause another person bodily harm while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or by driving recklessly. Serious Injury by Vehicle is a felony offense in Georgia and is punishable by imprisonment for not less that one year nor more than 15 years. In addition, the minimum license suspension period is three years with no early reinstatement and you will not be eligible for a limited use driving permit at any time during the suspension period.
Georgia Code Section § 40-6-394 defines a serious injury as “caus[ing] bodily hard to another by depriving him of a member of his body, by rendering a member of his body useless, by seriously disfiguring his body or a member thereof, or by causing organic brain damage which renders the body or any member thereof useless ...” To be “serious,” the injury does not need to be permanent – a serious, temporary injury is sufficient and only needs to impair or injure the appearance of a person. The following injuries were determined to be serious enough to support the offense of Serious Injury by Vehicle: loss of vision in one eye, blurry vision, a two inch scar on forehead, broken ribs and severe bruising.
VEHICULAR HOMICIDE & VEHICULAR FETICIDE
First-degree Vehicular Homicide is a felony offense under Georgia law and is punishable by not less than 3 or more than 15 years in prison. For Vehicular Homicide to be charged in the first-degree, the driver must have caused the death of another person while driving recklessly or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or caused an accident that resulted in the death of the person and left the scene.
If the Vehicular Homicide charge was committed by a driver after being declared a habitual violator or if the death was caused while you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the conviction will result in 90 percent of any sentence being served.
If you cause the death of an unborn child through the operation of a motor vehicle, you will be guilty of Vehicular Feticide. Vehicular Feticide in the First-degree is a felony offense and can be charged if the death of the unborn child is caused by injury to the mother as a result of a violation of reckless driving or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Vehicular Feticide in the First-degree is punishable by not less than 3 nor more than 15 years in prison.
HOMICIDE OR SERIOUS INJURY BY INTERFERENCE WITH TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICE
If, through a violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-6-26(a), you cause the death of or serious injury to another person, you could face charges of Homicide or Serious Injury By Interference with Traffic Control Device. Both charges are felony offenses. Homicide By Interference with Traffic Control Device is punishable by two to fifteen years in prison. Serious Injury By Interference with Traffic Control Device is punishable by one to five years in prison.
The underlying offense, which prohibits damage or alteration to official traffic-control devices or railroad signs or signals, states:
No person shall, without lawful authority, attempt to or in fact alter, deface, injure, knock down, or remove any official traffic-control device or any railroad sign or signal or any inscription, shield, or insignia thereon or any other part thereof. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-26(a).
Therefore, if your interference with a traffic control device causes another person's death or serious injury, whether that interference is removing or altering the sign or signal, or the destruction of the sign or signal by driving into it after an accident or while driving under the influence, you could face felony charges.
THERE ARE OPTIONS - THERE IS HOPE IF CHARGED WITH FELONY DUI IN GEORGIA
If you have been charged with a Felony DUI in Georgia, you need to act quickly to protect your rights. You are facing severe Georgia DUI Penalties, but there is hope. Our office is dedicated to protecting your rights. We are dedicated to making sure you are given a fair chance at a just outcome in your case. We understand that people make mistakes and people deserve help. That is why we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, weekends and holidays because you need help now. Contact us today to being your Best Georgia DUI Defense.