Getting arrested for driving under the influence is extremely stressful and worrisome. Your entire life — your family, your career, your livelihood — flashes before your eyes as you sit there in handcuffs. Without taking the proper measures as soon as possible, everything can fall apart due to a DUI conviction.
After your arrest, it’s essential to understand the charges you face, the penalties you could be subject to, and the steps you need to take to save yourself from the consequences of a DUI conviction.
What Do I Do After Being Charged with a DUI?
Understand Your Charges
In Georgia, there are several factors that can affect the type of DUI charge you are given. Typically, misdemeanor DUI charges fall into two categories:
The prosecutor will have to prove that your driving ability was affected by the amount of alcohol or drugs in your system. They often do this through the testimony of the officer on the scene and any eyewitnesses.
In this case, your charge is based mostly or entirely on your blood alcohol content. In Georgia, you can be charged with a DUI if your BAC is:
0.08% for non-commercial drivers over the age of 21
0.04% for commercial drivers over the age of 21
0.02% for drivers under the age of 21
You may also be charged with felony DUI if your driving under the influence is accompanied by one or more factors. These can include:
Driving under the influence results in injury or death
You have drugs on you at the time of arrest
You have been convicted of a fourth DUI in the past ten years
Understanding Your Penalties
While you may think that you will get off relatively easy because it’s your first DUI charge or you can manage your case on your own, you should first understand the penalties you could face if you are convicted.
Depending on the number of past DUI convictions you have, you could face:
Jail time up to five years
Mandatory fines up to $5,000
Driver’s license suspension up to ten years or permanent revocation
Surrendering of license plate
Up to 240 hours (60 days) of community service
Ignition interlock device (IID) installation for up 120 days after license suspension
DUI school attendance
Mandatory substance abuse counseling
Habitual offender or convicted felon status
For these reasons and more, it’s essential to have the right DUI defense attorney on your side to fight a reduction of charges or dismissal of your case in court.
Getting Your License Back
Upon being arrested for DUI in Georgia, you will likely lose your driving privileges due to an “administrative license suspension.” Since an inability to drive can cause you to use other expensive forms of transportation to get around or force you to be unable to take care of certain responsibilities, it’s essential to take advantage of the appeal process to restore your license privileges.
However, you need to be proactive, as state laws only allow you 30 days to appeal. While this may seem like a large window, it moves quickly — making it all the more necessary to obtain the right letter to challenge your penalties and pay the fees associated with filing.
Understand Your Defense Options
After addressing your licensing issues, it’s time to start building your defense. You will have to appear before the court, often several times, to enter your plea and then argue your innocence.
While it may seem like there is no way to prove your innocence, an experienced DUI lawyer will be able to look at the fine details of your case and build a defense that aims to reduce or dismiss your charges.
For starters, there are many ways to defend against subjective evidence that the prosecution may present, such as challenging field sobriety tests or eyewitness testimony. You can also argue that your BAC did not affect your ability to safely operate a vehicle or that it rose between the time of arrest and a blood test.
But you shouldn’t attempt to do this on your own. You need a skilled attorney on your side who, through years of DUI defense experience, can build a defense that is unique to your case and can help in reducing your charges.
Experienced DUI Defense in the Savannah Area
With over 10 years of experience and more than one thousand cases successfully handled, the UI defense attorneys at The Lerch Law Firm are here to aggressively fight for you after a DUI charge.
Whether you are facing your first or fourth DUI, we can help you avoid serious criminal penalties and guide you through the complexities of the legal process.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Savannah or the surrounding area, contact us online or at (912) 417-5008 and request a free initial consultation.