If someone is seriously injured in a DUI crash, the charge is referred to as a serious injury by a vehicle charge, which is a felony and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Similarly, if someone is killed in a DUI accident, they will likely face a vehicular homicide charge in the third degree, which is also a felony that is punishable by 15 years in prison. The aggravated DUI charge that is given after a fourth DUI in a ten year period is a little less serious. Specifically, it’s a felony that is punishable by a minimum of 60 days and up to a maximum of five years in confinement. In addition, it carries a number of other statutory requirements, including a fine that ranges from $1,000 to $5,000, 480 hours of community service, DUI School and a substance abuse evaluation.
How Do You Counsel Felony DUI Clients?
One of the first things I say to my clients is “Look, you are alive and you are here. Like everything else in life, this will pass. You’ll get beyond this.” But I also emphasize two other things, the first of which is the importance of their trust in me. If there is a problem with the state’s case, I am going to find it and we are going to exploit it. The second thing that I advise people to do is get treatment. A lot of people think that going to a substance abuse evaluation or an inpatient treatment program will make them look guilty, and they worry that the prosecutor will use it against them. In reality, that’s not true. The State is not going to know about any treatment or rehabilitation unless I tell them about it because I believe it can benefit your case. Regardless of what’s going on in the court procedure, I want my clients to be doing what they need to do to get their lives together.
What Charges Can Someone Face If They Have A Minor Accompanying Them In A DUI?
In Georgia, each child that’s in the vehicle can add on an additional DUI charge. That becomes a problem when you start looking at licensing issues, because three DUIs within a five-year period can deem you a habitual violator, which results in a five-year revocation of driving privileges. If you are driving under the influence of alcohol and you have two kids in the backseat, you could receive three DUI charges and be declared a habitual violator all in one sitting.
A couple of months ago in one of the counties where we practice, a school bus driver was arrested for DUI, and she had 22 kids on the bus. As a result, she was booked into jail on 23 counts of DUI. If convicted of all, once the Department of Driver Services starts stacking up license suspensions, she could be looking at a decade or more without driving. Common sense will tell you not to drink and drive with a kid in the car, but there are very harsh penalties in Georgia if you choose to do so.
What Additional Consequences Can Someone Face For Having Excessive Blood Alcohol Concentration?
There is nothing in Georgia’s law that adds an additional or enhanced punishment if someone has an excessive blood alcohol concentration. That being said, there are certain prosecutors we work with that will basically recommend a harsher sentence if someone is over two or three times the limit. There are a couple of judges that will inquire as to what the blood alcohol level was, and if it’s above a certain amount, then they’ll require additional measures such as more jail time.
Can Enhanced Felony DUI Charges Be Reduced To Reckless Driving?
It’s possible but unlikely. First-degree vehicular homicide charges and serious injury by vehicle charges both require what’s known as a predicate offense. If there is not a predicate offense, it’s not a felony. There is also a misdemeanor vehicular homicide statute which is charged when a traffic offense (other than DUI or reckless driving) occurs, and someone dies as a result.
In a crash involving serious injury or death, even if a DUI gets reduced to a charge of reckless driving, in Georgia a reckless driving charge also acts as a predicate for first-degree vehicular homicide or serious injury by vehicle, so the reduction is of no help. Accordingly, even if you can beat the DUI charge, most prosecutors will still charge reckless driving as an alternative to still allow a felony charge. Due to the statutory setup in Georgia, it’s very difficult to get those charges reduced or beat outright.
Is There A Certain Lookback Period For Prior DUI Convictions In Georgia?
For licensing, the Georgia Department of Driver Services look-back is five years. If you received your first and only DUI in a five-year period, then a certain license suspension goes into effect. If you received a second DUI in a five-year period, then a different license suspension goes into effect. In terms of aggravation for the criminal or traffic portion of the sentence, they look at a 10-year period. So, if you received your first DUI in a 10-year period, then it’s a misdemeanor. If you received a second DUI in a 10-year period, then it’s a misdemeanor with additional penalties. A third DUI in a 10-year period is an aggravated misdemeanor, and a fourth DUI in a 10-year period is a felony offense.
For more information on Penalties For Aggravated DUI Charges, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (678) 726-5400 today.