Answers to Your Questions About Georgia DUI and Drunk Driving Laws:
If You Are Arrested for DUI, Should You Take the Intoxilyzer test?  Find Out Below.

Chris E. Ambrose
Silvis, Ambrose & Lindquist & Coch, P.C.
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I have included some of the frequently asked questions I encounter when talking to people about Georgia DUI cases. The answers to the questions are not legal advice, and should not be taken as such.

If you have been charged with DUI or other serious alcohol related traffic offense in Georgia, you should contact a DUI defense attorney immediately to discuss your case. Give me  the facts of your case.

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Statute of Limitations

A DUI is a misdemeanor. Once you are arrested for DUI, the prosecutor has two years in which to file charges with the Clerk of Court. If charges are not filed with the Clerk in a timely manner, you cannot be prosecuted.

If the prosecutor files charges in a timely manner, unless you file a speedy trial demand in a timely manner, there is no limit on the time the prosecutor has to bring the case to trial.

Once you properly filed a speedy trial demand, the prosecutor must try your case by the end of the term of court following the term during which you filed your demand. Keep in mind that other nuances to speedy trial demand exist. If this is a concern, ask your attorney about it.

How long does a DUI stay on my record?

In Georgia a DUI stays on your record for life. Most other states have similar laws. The effects can result in possible denial of jobs or restrictions on credit if it goes on your credit report. In addition a conviction can cause an increase or cancellation on your car insurance.

What is a nolo plea?

The primary benefit of a nolo plea would be to limit use of the plea in a civil suit (for example, if an accident had occurred). The judge does not have to accept a "nolo" plea. Even if the judge does accept it, you will still have stiff fines, perform community service and serve some jail time just as if you entered a guilty plea.

Is First Offender treatment available for a DUI case?

No. Ordinarily, if First Offender Probation is completed successfully, sentencing under the First Offender Act results in no conviction . However, First Offender treatment is statutorily prohibited for DUI cases in Georgia.

Should you take the official State test of your blood, breath or urine?

This is one of the most common questions I am asked. Once you are arrested for DUI, the officer should read the Implied Consent Notice to you. The current card is bright orange (the old one was dark pink). At the end of the Notice, he will ask you to take a test of you blood, breath, urine, or any combination of the three. 

In the following situation, the official state test probably should be taken:

Someone age 21 or over who is arrested for a first DUI  in a five-year period where there are no aggravating circumstances such as serious injury or death, should probably  take the state test.

In the following situations, the official state test probably should not be taken:

Anyone who is arrested for DUI where aggravating circumstances exist (serious injury or death), should be aware that the  penalty upon conviction could be as much as 15 years in prison for causing a death while driving intoxicated. An administrative license suspension for 1-5 years is not the major concern in this situation. I can see no reason why someone in those circumstances should take the official state test.

Anyone who is under age 21 only has to register .02 to have an unlawful  blood alcohol level. This is extremely low. A prosecutor would have a difficult time obtaining a conviction for someone with such a low blood alcohol level if he did not have any test results.

On the other hand if a minor had an alcohol level of .08 or higher on a first time DUI arrest, a conviction at trial would result in a one year suspension with no limited driving permit - the same as an administrative suspension for refusing to take the test. Therefore, I see no reason why anyone under 21 should hand the prosecutor an easy conviction by taking the official state test.

I am still evaluating whether or not anyone age 21 or over who is arrested for a second or third DUI in a five-year period should take the test. I will post my thoughts when my evaluation is complete.

Important! For those of you that took the state test and also requested your own independent test of your blood, I have added a separate page regarding the procedures you should take regarding your blood sample. You need to go here to read about those procedures.

If I had a DUI in another state, will it show up in Georgia?

Yes, DUI/DWI convictions from other states will show up in a computer search conducted by the prosecutor. However, convictions from other states do not show up on every occasion. When we go into court we do not "volunteer" information about prior convictions. However, we must know your full record and be prepared to address this issue if the prosecutor presents it to the court.

How will this affect my out of state license?

Georgia cannot suspend an out of state license, only your home state can suspend your license. Georgia can only suspend your privilege to drive in this state. However, Georgia is required by law to notify your home state of any conviction of any traffic offense in Georgia.

The officer took my license. When can I get it back?

Georgia law permits an officer to confiscate the license of any motorist arrested for DUI. In order not to run afoul of perjury laws, do not just apply for a new license (especially in Georgia) because you can create even more problems for yourself. At your consultation, ask Mr. Mullis about how and when you may have your license returned.

What is the "10 day" rule?

The 10 day rule applied to requests for administrative license suspension hearings. This rule has been replaced by the 30 day rule and you can read more about it here.

The officer never read my Miranda Rights to me. Can I get my case thrown out?

In most instances, no. Miranda rights attach only after you are placed under arrest. Any incriminating statements you make while being interrogated prior to being placed under arrest are admissible in court. However, if the officer asks you any questions after you are arrested but before you are advised of your Miranda Rights, any statement you make then would be suppressed at trial. If the prosecutor's case rests solely on this suppressed statement, then your case will most likely be dismissed. However, in most instances, the prosecutor relies on evidence other than your incriminating statement.

Sometimes it is difficult to know when you are under arrest. Under Georgia law, if a reasonable person would believe he/she were under arrest, then an arrest has occurred. Although a judge ultimately makes this determination, advising your attorney of all facts surrounding your case can assist him in advising you. Ask Mr. Mullis to explain this in more detail at your free consultation.

If I am convicted or plead guilty, will I be required to have an ignition interlock device placed on my car?

An ignition interlock device is required for a second DUI within a five year period. Of course, a judge can make an ignition interlock device a condition of probation for any DUI or serious traffic offense. The cost of the ignition interlock device is borne by the defendant.

Georgia treats teenage drunk driving differently.  If you under age 21 when convicted of DUI, you will not qualify for any limited driving permit.

Click here to read the DUI GUY'S plain English explanation of Georgia's DUI laws including ignition interlock and underage DUI laws.

My out of state driver's license is sus-pended. Can I still get a Georgia driver's license.

Two common scenarios exist. In the first, your out-of-state license is suspended/revoked and you have no physical license. The Georgia Department of Public Safety will require that you get a letter of clearance from your previous home state. That, of course, necessitates following the correct procedures to get you out-of-state license reinstated so you can get a letter of clearance.

In the second scenario, you might be in possession of your out-of-state license, which could be suspended without your knowledge (an example would be a suspension for failure to appear in court and pay a fine). In that event,  you are issued a provisional Georgia driver's license.  If the Georgia Department of Public Safety learns of your prior suspension, your Georgia driving privileges will be withdrawn until you take care of the out-of-state suspension.

In some states, your driving privileges can be revoked for life. If you are unfortunate enough to be in that situation, you will not be able to get a Georgia driver's license.

What is habitual violator and how does it affect driving privileges?

Someone convicted of three serious driving offenses within a five year period has attained the lofty status of being an Habitual Violator. The most common of these serious driving offenses are DUI, Hit and Run, and Attempt to Elude.

Upon conviction of the third serious driving offense within a five year period, your driver's license will be suspended for five years.

An Habitual Violator who operates a motor vehicle without the appropriate limited permit or probationary license commits a felony for which he/she can be sentenced up to five years in prison and ordered to pay a substantial fine.

IMPORTANT! Please note that at the time of your conviction of the third serious traffic offense within a five year period, you must either turn in your driver's license (unless your license was confiscated at the time of your arrest) or you must submit a "lost license affidavit."  Otherwise, you will not receive credit for any of the time that you are an habitual violator.  I have seen extreme cases where someone attempted to have a license restored after five years only to find that, because they had not turned in their license or filed a lost license affidavit at the time of conviction, they had to wait another five years to have their full privileges restored.

For more detailed information on Habitual Violator, check out our sister site, Georgia Defenders.

Do I need a lawyer?

Every person can represent himself or herself in court. Because DUI is such a critical matter, however, it is not generally a wise choice to go to court unrepresented. Your right to drive, your freedom and your future employment options may hang in the balance. The choice is yours. We advise making a free appointment to learn more about this.

Why should I hire the DUI GUY?

Mr. Mullis is a trial attorney. He will not plea out your case unless both you and he feel it is in your best interest. Additionally, the DUI GUY is a former partner with the Atlanta law firm of Head, Mullis, Thomas & Webb, the largest assemblage of DUI attorneys in the country. He has attended numerous advanced training courses on police procedures and trial practice, which means that he can use his skills to challenge every aspect of a DUI arrest. 

In addition, Mr. Mullis is a founding member of the National College for DUI Defense conducted at Harvard Law School and has been a regular speaker to both trial attorneys and judges. His last stint as a speaker was April 2001 at a seminar sponsored by the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers where he lectured on recent changes in Georgia DUI law.

Mr. Mullis has specialized in the practice of DUI defense since 1994 and has personally handled and consulted on hundreds of DUI cases.

Click Here for more detailed information on Mr. Mullis.

When can I speak to an attorney?

Click Here to fill out the online Quick Intake From. Once you have submitted that form, you will speak to an attorney within 24 hours. 

We will also provide you with a DUI information pack that has several items including a questionnaire and a Drivers Rights Card prepared by the DUI GUY.  Once you complete and return the questionnaire Mr. Mullis will personally do a complete assessment of your case and will answer all your questions at your first consultation. You will be told the favorable and unfavorable aspects of your case and how the DUI GUY would handle your case. This will allow you to evaluate your own case so that you can make an informed decision about how you want to proceed.

Write down any questions you have regarding your case.  Mr. Mullis, the DUI GUY will answer all of your questions at your first consultation. Remember, unless you and Mr. Mullis agree on a fee for your case, you pay nothing for this consultation!

Attorney J. Michael Mullis, The DUI Guy, Georgia DUI Lawyer

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Content , Chris E. Ambrose, Attorney at Law