Don’t let a bad decision turn into a life sentence: DUI facts you can use
Caught Driving Under the Influence? Here’s what you can expect…
Grabbing a couple drinks, taking certain over-the-counter or prescription medications, and using drugs recreationally aren’t necessarily criminal acts…but driving after those things might just earn you a DUI charge.
What’s the legal limit?
Here in Georgia, if your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is 0.08% or higher, you’re in the zone for a DUI charge; that’s usually the equivalent of having one strong drink. If you’re under 21, a BAC of 0.02% can set off a chain of unfavorable consequences. And if you’re a commercial driver, a BAC greater than 0.044% is going to bring a heap of trouble. That’s just for alcohol. Different criteria determine impairment by drug use.
What are the legal implications and potential consequences of a DUI charge?
The standard lawyer answer applies here: “It depends.” A number of variables come into play when we talk about consequences: jurisdiction, circumstances, number of offenses, and more. You might be looking at criminal and administrative penalties like license suspension.
You might be looking at:
You’re under arrest.
This experience comes with photos and fingerprints, quite possibly time in jail. Legal pro tip: If you ever hear the words, “you have the right to remain silent,” ALWAYS exercise that right.
You get to go to court.
Criminal charges are likely to be brought against you (by the State), and you’ll have opportunities to appear and enter your plea over time.
You don’t get to drive.
Administrative penalties imposed by the Department of Driver Services (DDS) include possible license suspension (you can’t drive for a while, or you can only drive for certain reasons) or license revocation (you can’t drive anymore). In fact, this might be the first consequence of a DUI charge, even before you face criminal proceedings.
Your life has been affected.
A DUI conviction can remain on a person’s criminal record, potentially affecting their employment opportunities, housing applications, and other aspects of their life.
we're ready to fight for you
Your specific consequences will be based on a number of factors, like BAC level, whether or not you caused an accident or traffic violation, prior DUI history, and more. Understand that facing a DUI charge takes up money, time, and head space, and doing it alone usually doesn’t get the best outcomes. If you want to know more about what to expect in your particular case, the professional DUI attorneys at Issa & Castro are here to help.
DUI Education Programs
Ignition Interlock Device
Increase Insurance Premium
Frequently Asked Questions
- First time? A minimum of 24 hours in jail, with a maximum sentence of up to 1 year.
- Second time within 10 years? At least 72 hours in prison, with a maximum penalty of up to 1 year.
- Third time within 10 years? A minimum of 15 days in jail, with a maximum sentence of up to 1 year.
- Fourth time within 10 years? Felony DUI conviction, with a prison sentence of 1 to 5 years.
The court may also consider other factors in your sentencing, like…
- Were there minors in the vehicle?
- How high was your BAC?
- Was there an accident, and what happened as a result?
- Do you have a criminal history or a string of traffic violations?
DUIs are serious. Hiring a DUI lawyer in Atlanta might help you reduce the severity and extent of your consequences.
Earning a DUI charge while on probation in Atlanta, Georgia, can have serious legal and practical consequences, including:
- You might be charged with violation of probation, depending on the terms you agreed to. Usually probation includes abstaining from alcohol and drug use, so “just this once” might be all it takes to create more trouble.
- You might find your probation revoked. That means you could be going to jail.
- You might find yourself with harsher penalties, like higher fines, more jail time, continued license loss, and longer DUI education programs. A word on DUI education programs: some require both classroom time and counseling. That means paying for both, taking the time to do both, and participating fully in both. One of our clients found herself in a DUI class for repeat offenders and was required to pay for and attend 26 weeks of counseling, plus go to weekly 12-step meetings. Is there an upside to these consequences? Yes, some people struggle with addiction, and facing consequences like this can give them the opportunity to get the help they need. Addiction shouldn’t be something we shame, but something we recognize as an outdated strategy for dealing with pain. It’s never too late to get the help you need, and there is hope on the other side.
- You might have a hard time passing background checks. That means it might be harder to get a job or secure housing.
Whatever your situation may be, think about what you’re doing before you do it – play the tape through. Sometimes the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.
You can, and you might want to. If you do refuse a DUI test, here’s what happens…
- You’re violating Georgia’s implied consent law. That means you consented to chemical testing when you obtained your driver’s license.
- Your license is going to be suspended, whether or not you’re convicted of DUI. Expect a one-year suspension for your first refusal; 3 years for your second refusal; and 5 years for a third or more refusal within 5 years.
- The evidence against you will not include test results. But the State is lawyered up, and opposing counsel might argue that your refusal of consent means you knew you were intoxicated. Do yourself a favor and get an attorney to help you out.
- The State may attempt to deliver more severe penalties based on the circumstances of the case, so your best bet is to hire your own representation to maintain as many of your rights and privileges as possible.
Employers, landlords, and schools often conduct criminal background checks as part of their screening process. Your DUI arrest and any case disposition is likely to show up on these checks.
Your driving record will reflect DUI charges and case results.
Professional licenses, like nursing, massage therapy, real estate, teaching, and others require background checks as part of their initial and/or renewal process.
Any background check that requires fingerprints will also reveal a DUI arrest and conviction. These checks are often more comprehensive than checking your name in a database.
Green Card Status (Lawful Permanent Resident)
A DUI conviction might be a challenge for a green card holder. You might face hurdles when applying for U.S. citizenship or attempting to re-enter the country after international travel. Typically, the first offense is not considered deportable, but multiple DUI convictions or those with “aggravating factors,” like property damage, bodily injuries, or child endangerment could impact your eligibility for naturalization.
H-1B Visa (Temporary Work Visa for Specialty Occupations)
Here’s another case where asking, “What could happen?” will bring the answer, “It depends.” Your visa may or may not be immediately revoked. If it’s not, you may face difficulties when renewing the visa or applying for a green card. Simply put, you might want to think thrice before drinking/ingesting mind-altering substances and driving.
It’s possible that an aggravated DUI, charges that involve drug possession, and/or multiple convictions could put you at risk for deportation.
If you find yourself in Atlanta, Georgia, and catch a DUI charge, you’ll have better chances of saving your green card status or work visa with representation to fight for you.
A driver’s license is a privilege, not a right, and the State takes DUI convictions seriously to keep the streets of Atlanta safe. This is the short list of acts that will cause the suspension or revocation of your privilege to drive.
- DUI conviction.The length of suspension depends on the number of prior offenses and your case’s specific circumstances.
- Refusal of a chemical test: Earlier you may have read about Gerogia’s implied consent law: along with your license came your implied consent to testing. Well, refusing to participate (not submitting to a breath, blood, or urine test) results in an automatic liceanse suspension, whether or not you’re convicted of DUI.
- Underage DUI: Under 21? You’re at risk for suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
- High BAC level: Was your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) “exceptionally” high? Penalties might be more severe for you. Keep in mind that the legal limit is 0.08%, so you’re better off calling a ride share if you’ve had more than one drink.
Wanna get that license back? You’re going to have to jump through some hoops:
- Complete the license suspension or revocation period as determined by the court or the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS).
- Fulfill any court-ordered requirements, such as completing a DUI education program, substance abuse treatment, or community service.
- Obtain SR-22 insurance, a high-risk auto insurance policy proving you have the state-required minimum insurance coverage, which is likely to increase the cost of your insurance significantly.
- Pay any outstanding fines, fees, or court costs associated with the DUI conviction.
- Pay the license reinstatement fee to the Georgia DDS.
- Pass any required tests, such as a written knowledge exam, vision test, or road skills test, if applicable.
You may need to fulfill some or all of these, depending on the circumstances of your case. To find out what this might look like for you, call us for a free consultation.
It depends. You might be able to obtain a limited driving permit (LDP) or be required to participate in the ignition interlock device (IID) program. The options available to you depend on your driving history and the circumstances of your case.
Limited Driving Permit (LDP)
In Georgia, if you’re a first-time DUI offender, you may be eligible for an LDP, which allows you to drive to work, school, medical appointments, and DUI education programs during your license suspension period. You must meet specific eligibility criteria and apply through the Georgia DDS to obtain an LDP.
Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Program
You might be required to install an IID in your vehicle to continue driving. The IID intermittently signals drivers to provide breath samples and prevents the car from starting if alcohol is detected on your breath. Whether or not you’ll be eligible to participate depends on your specific circumstances.
You’re likely to face both long-term and shorter-term consequences after a DUI conviction in Atlanta, which could include.
- Your employment opportunities might be limited: A DUI goes on your criminal record and will show up on most background checks. Some employers have strict hiring guidelines, especially when there’s a professional license or on-the-job driving involved. Current and future employment might be affected.
- Your professional license could be in jeopardy: Certain professions in Georgia require a license, and licensing boards may consider a DUI conviction as a factor when granting, renewing, or revoking licenses.
- Your education may be at risk: If you’re a student, you might need special help to be admitted to certain academic programs or securing financial aid.
- You might have a hard time securing housing: Some landlords run background checks, and your arrest and/or conviction might be a red flag to them.
- You’re likely to experience psycho-social effects: Working around your license limitations, potential education and community service programs, will impact your social life. You may or may not feel comfortable talking about your circumstances with your friends and family. You might have some difficult emotions about the disruption a DUI conviction creates in your life.
- Your insurance rates are very likely to increase: You’ll need to get an SR-22 added on to your policy and meet minimum coverage laws.
If you have more questions or want to find out what’s relevant in your case, give us a call.
How Do I Help My Children Recover From a Brutal Car Accident?
When children are involved in a car accident, their physical and emotional recovery can be challenging. Here are some ways parents can help their children heal:
- Seek Medical Attention: Ensure your child receives prompt and appropriate medical care for injuries sustained in the accident.
- Encourage Communication: Encourage your child to discuss their feelings and fears about the accident. It can help them process the event and begin to heal emotionally.
- Provide Reassurance: Offer reassurance and comfort to your child, emphasizing that the accident was not their fault and that they are safe now.
- Seek Professional Help: If your child is struggling to cope with the trauma of the accident, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional specializing in trauma and child development.
How Do Parents Cope With Losing a Child in a Car Accident?
The loss of a child in a car accident is a devastating experience for parents. The grieving process can be overwhelming, and parents may need support as they navigate this difficult time:
- Allow Yourself to Grieve: Permit yourself to experience the full range of grief-related emotions.
- Seek Support: Reach out to friends, family, or a support group to share your feelings and experiences.
- Honor Your Child’s Memory: Find ways to remember and honor your child, such as creating a memorial, participating in activities they enjoyed, or supporting a cause that was important to them.
- Consider Professional Help: If you find your grief overwhelming or persistent, seek the help of a therapist or counselor specializing in grief and loss.
Can a Child Develop PTSD as a Result of a Car Accident?
Car accidents can be a traumatic experience for anyone, and children are no exception. In some cases, a child may develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to the accident.
Recognizing the symptoms of PTSD in children is crucial for ensuring they receive the appropriate care and support needed for recovery.
Below are some common PTSD symptoms in children:
- Recurrent, intrusive memories of the accident: Children with PTSD may experience vivid and unwanted memories of the accident, causing them significant distress.
- Nightmares or trouble sleeping: Children may have nightmares related to the accident or experience difficulty falling or staying asleep.
- Avoidance of reminders of the accident: Children may avoid situations, places, or people that remind them of the accident, as these reminders can trigger their PTSD symptoms.
- Changes in mood or behavior: PTSD can cause noticeable changes in a child’s mood or behavior. It may include increased irritability, withdrawal from activities they once enjoyed, or a sudden lack of interest in socializing with friends or family.
- Heightened startle response or hypervigilance: Children with PTSD may develop an exaggerated startle response or become overly vigilant to potential threats, even in safe environments.
If you suspect your child may be experiencing PTSD following a car accident, it is essential to consult with a mental health professional who specializes in trauma and child development.
What Are The Emotional Trauma Indicators in a Child Who Has Experienced a Car Accident?
Following a car accident, children may experience emotional trauma that can manifest in various ways. Parents and caregivers must recognize these signs to seek appropriate support and help their children heal.
Common indicators include sudden changes in behavior or mood, regressive behaviors, difficulty concentrating or changes in school performance, persistent worry or fear related to the accident, and physical symptoms with no apparent medical cause. Parents and caregivers must recognize these signs to seek appropriate support and help their children heal from the trauma.
How Can a Car Accident Affect a Child's Development?
- Physical Injuries: Depending on the accident’s severity, a child may sustain injuries that could impact their physical abilities and overall health. These injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to more severe injuries such as broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, or spinal cord damage.
- Cognitive Development: Traumatic brain injuries sustained in a car accident can affect a child’s cognitive development, potentially leading to difficulties with memory, attention, and problem-solving skills.
- Emotional Development: The emotional trauma associated with a car accident can impact a child’s emotional development, potentially leading to anxiety, depression, or PTSD.
- Social Development: A child’s social development may also be affected by the aftermath of a car accident, particularly if they experience difficulty relating to peers due to their injuries or emotional trauma
What is the best advice for individuals seeking car insurance after a DUI conviction in Atlanta, Georgia?
You might need to shop around to find coverage that fits your budget and meets Georgia’s requirements. Here are some tips for seeking car insurance after a DUI conviction:
- Drivers convicted of DUI In the state of Georgia must obtain SR-22 insurance. You’ll want to call your current insurance provider to get a quote and find out what their requirements are.
- You may want to compare quotes from multiple insurance companies.
- Keep your driving record clean.
- Ask the insurance company if they offer bundling discounts or how a higher deductible affects your premium. One thing to note here – make sure you can afford that deductible in case you file a claim in the future.
If you want more specific guidance, please call us at 404-491-7561 for a free consultation.
There are multiple ways we could approach DUI charges. Here are a handful of questions we ask when we look at DUI cases:
- Was there a valid reason for the traffic stop? Without reasonable suspicion to stop you, any evidence obtained during that stop could be suppressed. That means the charges could be dismissed.
- How accurate are those field sobriety results? Multiple variables can render field sobriety tests unreliable, like how the test was administered or what the weather was like at the time.
- How reliable is that breathalyzer or chemical test? If a machine wasn’t calibrated correctly or maintained appropriately, it might give an inaccurate result. We can challenge those tests. If you want our opinion on the matter, refuse all testing.
- Were the signs of impairment caused by something other than drugs or alcohol? It’s possible that observed behavior on which DUI charges were brought might have been due to something else, like exhaustion or a medical condition.
You might be able to leverage one of the following:
- We might negotiate a plea bargain, so you’d plead guilty to a lesser charge and potentially face less severe penalties.
- You might be eligible for a first-time offender program that might reduce your consequences.
- We might be able to demonstrate mitigating factors, like seeking substance abuse treatment, to show your commitment to addressing this situation that could influence the court’s sentencing decision.
Here at The Issa Castro Law Firm, our team of DUI attorneys will help you fight your case and do everything to reduce the severity of your DUI charge. Contact us anytime if you need a DUI attorney in the state of Georgia.
- Lack of legal defenses: With a lawyer’s expertise, the individual may be aware of all the potential legal reasons available, potentially leading to a more favorable outcome.
- Ineffective negotiation: A lawyer has experience negotiating with prosecutors and is more likely to secure a favorable plea bargain or reduced charges.
- Inadequate representation in court: With a lawyer’s advocacy, the individual may be able to present their case effectively in court, resulting in a higher likelihood of conviction or more severe penalties.
- Unfamiliarity with court procedures: Navigating the court system without a lawyer can be challenging and may result in missed deadlines, procedural errors, or other mistakes that negatively impact the case.
So contact a DUI lawyer in Atlanta immediately to help you fight and win your case. Our team of DUI lawyers is known for their expertise in DUI cases. You can check our website or visit our office.
What are the legal and practical challenges of defending against a DUI charge without a breathalyzer or other chemical test results?
The burden of proof that you were impaired by alcohol or drugs rests with the State of Georgia. If they don’t have chemical test results, they have to rely on other evidence, like:
- Officer testimony and observations. Memory is fluid and unreliable. Observation may be subjective; what one person reads as anger might be seen by another as fear. Depending on your circumstances, this might play to your advantage.
- Increased importance of field sobriety tests. If the only tests they have are field sobriety tests, these may be given more consideration as evidence of impairment.
So what do we do about it?
- We raise reasonable doubt.
- We challenge the basis for your arrest.
- We propose alternative explanations.
What is the average cost of a DUI ticket?
“It depends.” A DUI ticket for first-time offenders in Atlanta can be anywhere from $300-$1,000+. You’re also likely to be responsible for court costs, attorney fees, any type of probation or pre-trial diversion program, and more.
If you’re curious about what it might take to minimize the fees and other consequences of a DUI, call us for a free consultation.