I am often asked what will happen to a person's drivers license if they receive a drug charge in Georgia.
Drug charges carry heavy penalties in the State of Georgia, including jail time, probation terms with random drug and alcohol screening, hefty fines, community service, and substance abuse counseling and treatment. In addition, you may become ineligible to receive financial aid and face a driver's license suspension without the ability to get a limited-use driving permit.
License Suspensions as a result of a Georgia Drug Arrest
All convictions for a Controlled Substance violation shall run consecutively to any other type of suspension already active on the date of conviction. This means that if your license is already suspended when you are convicted, the Controlled Substance license suspension will not become effective until all previous suspensions have been fulfilled. No limited-use driving permits are available if your license is suspended due to a first or second Controlled Substance conviction within 5 years.
For a first conviction within 5 years, the Georgia license suspension period is 180 days. To be reinstated, you will need to complete a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction program and pay a $210 reinstatement fee.
For a second conviction within 5 years, the Georgia license suspension period is 1 year and the reinstatement fee is $310. You will also need to complete a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction program.
For a third conviction within 5 years, the Georgia license suspension period is 5 years, but you will become eligible for a limited-use driving permit after a 2 year hard suspension if you have not been convicted or pleaded nolo contendere to any drug related offense, including DUI, complete a DDS approved drug treatment program, pay a $25 permit fee, and submit proof of financial responsibility. To be reinstated, you will need to complete a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction program and pay a $410 fee.
For misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana charges, a plea of nolo contendere will be accepted by DDS once every 5 years to prevent the applicable license suspension. To qualify, you must be over the age of 16 and attend a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction program within 120 days of sentencing. A nolo contendere plea will be at the sole discretion of the judge in your case.
Alternative Sentencing in Georgia Drug Cases
An attorney may be able to negotiate a resolution to your case that will avoid many of these harsh penalties and may even be able to have the charge dismissed and removed from your criminal record. The key is to seek an alternative sentence from the Georgia Court.
Pretrial Diversion in Georgia Drug Cases
Pretrial Diversion is available in certain cases to first offenders. The State may decline to prosecute your case in exchange for your enrollment in a Pretrial Diversion Program, which is a supervisory program with certain requirements that you must complete in a specified time period. If you satisfactorily complete the program, your charges will be dismissed and will be eligible for expungement of your criminal record. Any applicable license suspension will be prevented because no conviction will be recorded.
The most common requirements of a Pretrial Diversion program are the payment of a program fee, probation, community service, random drug and alcohol screens, alcohol or drug awareness courses, or a Risk Reduction course. Some programs may even require you to write an essay.
If you fail to complete the program, the State will prosecute your case and you may be convicted of the original charge and any potential consequences would go into effect.
Conditional Discharge in Georgia Drug Cases
A Conditional Discharge permits a judge to dismiss a charge upon completion of certain conditions. This type of sentencing is only available to use once to persons who have never previously been convicted of a drug charge.
The court's conditions typically consist of a term of probation, random drug and alcohol screens, payment of a fine, community service, and a Risk Reduction course (commonly called DUI school). Failure to complete the conditions as provided by the court, failing a drug or alcohol screen, or being convicted of a new offense may cause the court to revoke your conditional discharge status and proceed with the original charge.
A Conditional Discharge will prevent the suspension of your driver's license. If your Conditional Discharge status is revoked, though, your license will be suspended upon your conviction.
First Offender Act for people arrested in Georgia Drug Cases
The First Offender Act permits a court to defer proceeding with the conviction and sentence you to confinement or place you on probation or some combination of the two and upon the fulfillment of the terms of the sentence, decline to enter a judgment of guilt in the case. This means that if you successfully complete the terms of your sentence, your case will be discharged, you will not have a conviction on your record and you will be able to honestly state that you have never been convicted of the charge. This treatment is only available to a person once in their lifetime and to a person who has never previously been convicted of a felony.
If you are convicted of another crime while on probation under the First Offender Act, however, the court can enter a conviction in the original case and proceed to sentence you as provided by law in which case the judge has the discretion to sentence you to the maximum penalty allowable by law for the original charge.
First Offender treatment is not available if you are charged with certain serious violent felonies, certain sexual offenses, sexual exploitation of a minor, electronically furnishing obscene material to a minor, or computer pornography and child exploitation offenses.
If you are granted First Offender treatment for a drug offense or underage alcohol offense, you may avoid the applicable license suspension. However, First Offender status in cases related to the operation of a motor vehicle will not prevent the imposition of the applicable driver's license suspension or revocation.
If you have arrested for violating the drug laws in Georgia, contact us now for immediate legal attention. We are here 24/7, 365 days a year.