Given that the increasing penalties associated with repeat offenses are common knowledge, quite a few people mistakenly assume that a first offense likely isn’t very serious, particularly if they wind up charged with a misdemeanor or with what they consider to be a victimless crime.

Driving under the influence (DUI) charges are among the kinds of charges that people might assume are less serious, as they didn’t cause harm to anyone else. However, impaired driving offenses are both associated with public safety issues and substantial expenses if a driver causes a crash that results in property damage or injury. As a result, even a first-time impaired driving offense can carry significant penalties in Georgia. 

What penalties does a driver face for a first-time DUI conviction?

A driver accused of getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink will face a combination of multiple different penalties as a result of those charges. In Georgia, the standard penalties for a first DUI charge include potential jail time, substantial fines, community service and the suspension of your license.

The incarceration for the offense could be as long as one year, while the fine will be between $300 and $1,000. There is also a mandatory minimum of 40 hours of community service, as well as the loss of your license for up to a year.

Judges do have some discretion when it comes to sentencing, but there are minimum penalties that they generally cannot waive. Additionally, in order to deter people from repeat offenses, some judges may decide to penalize impaired drivers more harshly.

It is possible to defend against DUI charges

Some people mistakenly think that a DUI offense is impossible to defend against. After all, there is a police officer willing to testify that they believed you were under the influence, as well as chemical tests that might validate that claim. However, an officer’s opinion on your behavior may not reflect the situation accurately, particularly if you have certain medical conditions.

Additionally, it’s important to realize that chemical tests are subject to failure, particularly if the person administrating the test doesn’t have enough experience, if the unit hasn’t received recent calibration or if the software for the device is out of date. Depending on the circumstances and evidence involved in your case, there may be multiple ways for you to defend yourself against allegations of impaired driving.