Is a DUI a felony or a misdemeanor in Georgia?
If you’re wondering whether a DUI is a felony or misdemeanor in Georgia, then we have good news and bad news. The good news is that the vast majority of DUI arrests result in misdemeanor charges, whether you were arrested in Atlanta, Decatur, Stone Mountain, or anywhere else in the state.
The bad news? Like most states, there are also harsh Georgia felony DUI laws, and a number of circumstances in which a DUI arrest will result in felony charges. Pak and McRae Law, LLC, is a Georgia criminal defense law firm that represents people charged with both misdemeanor DUI and felony DUI offenses. Our Atlanta criminal defense attorneys always work to ensure your legal rights are respected and that you receive the most favorable outcome possible. If you’ve been arrested for either a felony or misdemeanor DUI charge in Georgia, contact Pak and McRae Law, LLC, today for an initial consultation.
When is a DUI a felony in Georgia?
Typically, driving under the influence results in an arrest and misdemeanor charges; however, certain aggravating circumstances can leave you facing felony criminal charges instead. Men and women convicted of a felony will serve their sentence in a state prison rather than a local jail, and felony convictions can make it extremely difficult to find a job in the future.
Any of the following circumstances could result in felony DUI charges in Georgia:
- If you have already been convicted of three previous DUI offenses.
- If you were caught driving under the influence while transporting minors.
- If you caused a serious car accident, property damage, injury, or death while driving drunk or under the influence of drugs.
What if the police believe I injured someone while driving drunk?
Drivers who caused injury or wrongful death while driving under the influence may face additional manslaughter charges in addition to a felony DUI, as well as possible civil litigation in the form of personal injury lawsuits. While you should always consider contacting a criminal defense law firm after an arrest, felony DUI charges are especially serious. Don’t hesitate to contact Pak & McRae Law, LLC for help fighting a felony DUI charge.
What are the penalties for a misdemeanor DUI charge in Georgia?
In the state of Georgia, the maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is a $1,000 fine and up to 12 months in jail. However, in extreme cases, the prosecutor may decide to charge you with a high and aggravated misdemeanor, which can result in 12 months in jail and a fine of $5,000.
For a first misdemeanor DUI offense—or if you refused to take the road test—you could still face serious consequences, including:
- A $300 to $1,000 fine
- 10 days to 12 months in jail
- 12 months of probation
- At least 40 hours of community service
- Driver’s license suspension (with the possibility of receiving a restricted license after 120 days)
To read about misdemeanor DUI charges in more detail, especially the consequences of a second or third DUI, see our DUI penalties FAQ.
What are the penalties for a felony DUI in Georgia?
The gravity of felony DUI charges can’t be overstated, especially if the defendant is facing additional charges like vehicular manslaughter or driving on a suspended license. Typically, a conviction will result in a sentence of at least one year in a Georgia state prison, costly fines, lengthy probation, a suspended driver’s license, and mandatory drug or alcohol counseling.
On top of that, felons face a severe stigma in U.S. society. After a felony conviction, you will be required by law to check “Yes” on employment forms that ask if you are a felon, which can make it extremely difficult to find a decent job.
The consequences of a felony DUI conviction can follow you for decades to come.
Why should I hire a criminal defense law firm instead of a public defender?
Today, despite being home to just five percent of the world’s population, one-in-four prisoners is behind bars right here in the “land of the free.” Despite recent moves towards reforming our criminal justice system, the U.S. prison population has grown at an extraordinary rate. Between 1980 and 2008, the number of prisoners in the U.S. quadrupled from 500,000 to an estimated 2.3 million people.
And sadly, in so many states, including Georgia, the public defender system is underfunded. The average public defender would have to work 3,035 hours per year to handle their caseload (that’s 1.5 years’ worth of work).
So if you’ve been charged with a crime, it is important to hire an Atlanta criminal defense attorney to represent your case.
Can you get a DUI reduced from a felony to misdemeanor DUI in Georgia?
In certain circumstances, criminal defense attorneys are able to reach a deal for reduced charges, although there are no guarantees when facing serious criminal charges. If a driver failed a blood test or admitted guilt, the prosecutor may not be inclined to make a favorable deal, especially since juries do not usually look kindly at drunk drivers.
Even so, it is important to contact a criminal defense attorney to help you explore all of your legal options. Sometimes, charges can be reduced from a felony to misdemeanor in exchange for a guilty plea.