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Understanding the severity of first-offense DUI charges

While most of us feel nothing more than a temporary sense of unease when we see the flashing lights of a police car go by us, the experience is decidedly different when the flashing lights are directly in our own rearview mirror.

Indeed, unease rapidly changes to outright fear if you see these flashing lights and have recently consumed a few drinks while at a happy hour for work or out with friends. Suddenly, you're asking yourself if you should have had that last beer, glass of wine or cocktail.

In Georgia, like every other state, the blood alcohol limit for adults 21 and over is .08, meaning anyone at or above this threshold can be arrested for drunk driving.

It's important to understand that there is no such thing as a free pass when it comes to drunk driving in Georgia. In other words, contrary to what you may have heard from family, friends or co-workers, the law is not necessarily lenient when it comes to first time offenders.

By way of illustration, consider some of the penalties that those convicted of first-offense impaired driving face:

  • A jail sentence of up to one year
  • A fine ranging from a minimum of $300 to a maximum of $1,000
  • A license reinstatement fee of $210
  • 40 hours of community service
  • License suspension for up to one year

In addition to these penalties, a person can also expect increased insurance premiums, time away from work and a permanent criminal record.

The point of sharing all of this information is not to cause any unnecessary anxiety, but rather to underscore just how high the stakes are and just how imperative it is for anyone who has been arrested for drunk driving to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

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