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Frequently Asked Questions About DUI

Marietta DUI Defense Attorney

If you have a DUI-related question, I, Attorney Jill Stahlman would be happy to answer it for you! With 22 years of legal experience beneath my belt, I have successfully advised and guided clients through many difficult aspects of a DUI case. Below, I have compiled the answers to some of the most commonly asked DUI questions:

What constitutes a drunk driving charge in Georgia?

The two types of alcohol related DUI charges in Georgia are "per se" and "less safe." A per se DUI is when the blood alcohol level of a defendant is greater than the legal limit of 0.08% or greater within three hours of driving. A per se DUI charge can also involve drugged driving (see below). This would not apply, however, to a person who is found to have marijuana in his system.

An individual can also be charged with a "per se" DUI if he/she is under 21 and had a BAC level of 0.02% or if he/she is a commercial driver and had a BAC level of 0.04% while operating a commercial vehicle.

A less safe DUI is when a driver is arrested for DUI but no breath or blood result is available. This DUI charge can be proven by showing the following factors:

  • The defendant was driving erratically (for example, he/she caused an accident or was weaving between lanes)
  • The defendant failed his/her field sobriety results
  • The defendant's demeanor indicated a drunken state (odor of alcohol, unsteadiness, slurred speech)

Do I have to take a breath or chemical test?

If an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a driver is intoxicated, he/she can ask a driver to submit to a chemical test. Georgia Legislature determines that if you operate a moving vehicle, you have given your consent to a blood, breath or urine test. After you are arrested for DUI, an officer should read you the implied consent warning which advises you of the consequences of refusing a test but gives you the option to refuse to take a test.

What should I do after being arrested for DUI?

The most important step you can take is to secure legal representation right away (see below). You need to look at every aspect of your DUI case: were you stopped illegally? Did the police not follow protocol with the investigation? Were your breath test rights violated? Were you arrested for no reason? Do you have a health condition or did a breathalyzer malfunction which could have led to erroneous test results? The faster you take the necessary steps to protect your rights and the quicker you begin investigating the circumstances surrounding your charges, the more likely the outcome of your case will be positive! At Stahlman Law, P.C. my staff and I put 100% of our resources towards securing a charge dismissal or reduction on your behalf.

What penalties might I face, if convicted of DUI?

A DUI in Georgia is a misdemeanor which can result in one year in jail and a fine up to $1,000. For a first DUI, the law requires a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours, 40 hours of community service, twelve months of probation and a one year license suspension. If you committed an aggravated DUI, however, you could be forced to pay $5,000.

For a second DUI within 10 years, you will have to spend a minimum of 72 hours in jail, complete 240 hours of community service and a 17 week DUI school, take a drug and alcohol evaluation and your license will be suspended for three years. While you can drive after the first year, you will have to have a breath device installed in your vehicle for six months and afterwards you will be forced to drive 18 months on a probationary license.

For a third DUI in 10 years, most individuals are sentenced to six months or more in jail. You will now be considered a habitual violator. At least 30 days of community service is required as well as 12 months of probation, DUI school, a clinical evaluation and a 17 week treatment program. If this offense occurred within five years of your last offense, a five year license revocation will be imposed. A limited permit may be available after two years, but you will have to have an ignition interlock installed.

For a fourth DUI in 10 years you will be convicted of a felony offense. You will have to pay a fine up to $5,000, will have to spend up to five years in prison (and no less than 90 days incarcerated). You will have to perform a minimum of 60 days of community service upon release (unless you were sentenced to three or more years in prison). You will have to attend DUI school, complete a clinical assessment, and a 17 week treatment program.

How can I get my license back?

If you are convicted of DUI, a work permit is available to you if you did not refuse a test. A probationary license is available for non-refusal DUI offenders as well after they have gone to DUI school and paid a $210 reinstatement fee.

What if I was arrested for drugged driving?

Georgia has a zero tolerance per se drugged driving law. Even the consumption of prescription medication or over the counter drugs can get you in trouble legally, if they caused you to drive erratically.

It is only a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana if "it is less than safe for the person to drive, or to the extent that the driver is rendered incapable of driving safely." For a first DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) offense, you will have to spend a minimum of 10 days in jail, will have to pay a fine up to $1000 and face a one year license suspension.

Do not take this charge lightly! If you are convicted of this crime, you can expect the same penalties that individuals convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol face (refer to answer 4). The best preventative measure you can take is to hire competent legal representation immediately to protect your rights!

What defenses are available to me?

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, there are several defenses that could apply to you:

  • Maybe the officer who pulled you over did not have probable reason to pull you over
  • Perhaps you have poor balance which is why you failed your field sobriety test
  • Maybe mouth alcohol led to a false high BAC result and threw off your breath test results or maybe the breathalyzer machine was malfunctioning
  • Perhaps the police officer did not comply with protocol on Georgia blood and breath testing or when placing you under arrest

There is plenty of room for man or machine to make error which can lead to you being erroneously charged with DUI when you are in fact, innocent. At Stahlman Law, P.C. my staff and I will not rest until we have examined every aspect of your case and gathered every pertinent piece of evidence that could result in a charge dismissal or reduction for you!

Why do I need a DUI attorney to represent me?

While you might think it's tempting to save a few bucks by representing yourself, it is imperative that you secure the assistance of an attorney who understands Georgia's DUI laws.

A DUI attorney brings with him/her many benefits to your case: familiarity with court system, knowledge of how plea bargains work and the knowledge necessary to navigate through administrative procedures. An attorney can help walk you through what is otherwise a baffling legal process.

Contact Stahlman Law for Aggressive Defense

Over the past 22 years, I, Attorney Stahlman, have represented numerous clients successfully, handling a wide range of complex and difficult to win cases. By choosing Stahlman Law, P.C. to represent you, I promise you the individualized attention and complete dedication to your case that you deserve! 

Contact my office today for a free consultation; you can reach me at (888) 397-1860!

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