Driving under the influence (DUI) charges are no laughing matter in the state of Georgia. They can result in serious penalties such as large fines, a lengthy suspension of your license, and even possible jail time. In Georgia, first-time DUI convictions are usually classified as a misdemeanor, but they can become a felony if you have repeat offenses within a certain period of time. First-time DUI offenses can also be escalated into felony charges, depending on other factors that may have occurred during the incident. If you find yourself facing a DUI charge, contact a Cobb county DUI lawyer at Miller Law Practice, LLC for more information regarding your case.
How does a DUI become a felony in Georgia?
The circumstances surrounding a DUI charge will dictate whether it is considered a misdemeanor or felony. If you were the cause of any injuries or fatalities while operating your vehicle intoxicated, this could lead to a DUI felony charge. The same could also apply to any failure to comply with law enforcement, especially when it comes to attempted escapes from police officers after signaling for you to pull over. Other factors, such as reckless endangerment of a child present in the car or disobeying traffic control devices, like traffic lights or stop signs, could also lead to felony DUI charges.
However, additional charges are not the only way for a DUI offense to be prosecuted as a felony. Repeat DUI offenses not only could result in more egregious penalties, but could also lead to a felony conviction. In the state of Georgia, a DUI can also be charged as a felony if it is your fourth offense within 10 years.
What penalties can I face for a DUI?
For first-time offenders, penalties for DUI charges can be very serious, leaving you in a difficult situation. Your license could be suspended for up to a year, although this could be reduced to a minimum of 120 days depending on the completion of certain conditional programs. You could also face a minimum of 10 days of jail time, with a potential maximum of one year based on the circumstances of the incident. Fines of $300 to $1,000 could also be enforced, depending on the facts of your case.
The severity of these penalties only increases with subsequent offenses, but for a fourth DUI charge, the consequences are far more substantial. This can include prison time of up to five years, along with a 10-year suspension of your license. The fines you pay increase significantly as well which can range from $1,000 to up to $5,000; not to mention the possible confiscation of your vehicle. While any penalties you may receive for a DUI charge are serious, a DUI felony conviction could have far more lasting consequences due to the impact it can have on your criminal record.