You may be one of many Georgia residents who don't pay much attention to drunk driving laws because you believe they do not apply to you. You may have a couple beers or some wine during an evening out, but you don't drive drunk. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily mean you are immune to a DUI arrest.
Even if you are not certain of the exact laws and penalties for a DUI conviction in this state, you are probably aware that in recent years, those laws have become much stricter and the penalties harsher. This is a trend that is likely to continue as lawmakers see these changes making a difference in the rate of accidents and fatalities involving drunk drivers.
Harsh penalties for conviction
The differences between today's drunk driving laws and those of past generations include a lower tolerance for the amount of alcohol you can consume before driving. In recent years, you may have noticed the legal blood alcohol concentration limit dropping from .10 to .08, and some states have recently reduced their legal BAC limit to .05. In addition, authorities do not allow you to refuse a BAC test without severe penalties, such as the automatic suspension of your license. Other ways in which DUI laws have gotten tougher include:
- Setting the legal drinking age at 21
- Establishing zero tolerance laws, which impose harsh penalties for underage drivers who drink
- Raising the amount for fines and adding other fees and expenses to a DUI conviction
- Enhancing penalties for those who have multiple DUI convictions
- Increasing the length of time for a license suspension after a DUI
- Requiring convicted drivers to install ignition interlock systems, in some states after only one offense
- Raising repeat DUI convictions to the level of a felony, which is usually a fourth offense in Georgia
A drunk driving conviction is no longer a slap on the wrist. In many cases, even a first offense can result in jail time, significant fines and other penalties that will consume your time and money. You will probably lose your license for a certain period and have to jump through hoops to get it back, such as attending DUI school or receiving alcohol counseling.
While you may think avoiding a DUI is easy if you simply watch how much you drink, this is not always the case. If you are facing charges for drunk driving, you would be wise to seek legal counsel to minimize the serious and potentially long-term results of a conviction.