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Understanding more about felony-level traffic offenses

In the state of Georgia, the vast majority of traffic offenses are charged as misdemeanors with cases being heard everywhere from municipal court to juvenile court.

Depending on the underlying circumstances of the case, those who are found guilty or elect to plead guilty to these misdemeanor-level traffic offenses could be ordered to pay a fine and/or serve a brief stint in jail. Furthermore, they may see their driver's license suspended or revoked by the Department of Public Safety.

As harsh as these penalties may seem, they are decidedly more severe when the underlying traffic offense is charged as a felony. Indeed, consider the consequences for a conviction on any one of the following three felony-level traffic offenses, all of which would be tried in the superior court system:

  • Serious injury by vehicle: This is a felony in which a driver is charged with seriously injuring another person while violating the state's reckless driving laws or laws prohibiting driving under the influence. In general, a serious injury is defined as one in which the victim loses the use of any part of the body (this includes brain damage). Those convicted face anywhere from one to 15 years in prison.
  • Vehicular homicide: This is a felony in which a driver is charged with taking the life of another as a result of driving under the influence, fleeing law enforcement or driving in a reckless manner. Those convicted face anywhere from two to 10 years in prison.
  • Habitual offender: Georgia law dictates that a person is declared a habitual offender and therefore subject to felony-level charges if they commit a total of three traffic offenses over a five-year period. Here, these three offenses must consist of serious infractions, DUIs or some combination thereof. Those convicted face anywhere from one to five years in prison.

As demonstrated by the foregoing conversation, those charged with felony-level traffic offenses should give very serious consideration to speaking with an experienced legal professional given all that is at stake.

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