Arrested for a DUI? Call Marietta DUI Attorneys


Georgia has some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the country, and Cobb County Police Department officers, City of Marietta police officers, and other Cobb County law enforcement agencies take pride in strictly enforcing the state’s DUI laws. Without ever intending to drive drunk, many adults can exceed the legal BAC (blood alcohol content) limit after just a few drinks. If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Cobb County, you could be subject to fines, jail time, loss of your driver’s license, and mandatory alcohol and substance abuse programs. Contact a DUI defense lawyer with extensive experience in this area of the law immediately.

DUI Laws in Georgia

Like most states, Georgia makes a number of distinctions in the way that you can be charged with DUI, based upon the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Your blood alcohol content, your age, your DUI arrest history, and whether or not you refuse a breath or urine test are all factors in determining how the arresting officer will charge you.

Under 21 DUIs

The state of Georgia makes a distinction between underage impaired driving and DUI as an adult over the age of 21. If you’re of legal drinking age, it’s unlawful for you to operate a vehicle with a BAC of .08 or higher. This is called “DUI Per Se.” (Regardless of your age, it’s also unlawful for you to operate a vehicle if you’re impaired by alcohol or drugs to the extent that you’re a less safe driver. This is called “DUI Less Safe.”).

Under Georgia law, drivers under the age of 21 can be charged with per se DUI with a BAC of .02 or higher. If you’re under the age of 21 and convicted of DUI with a BAC of at least .02 but less than .08, your license can be suspended for up to six months. If you’re 18 to 20 years of age and are convicted of DUI with a BAC of .08 or higher, or if you refuse to take the state-administered blood, breath, or urine test, you’ll face a 12 month license suspension. In either case, you’ll also be required to pay fines, complete community service, meet certain alcohol and drug education and evaluation requirements, and possibly spend some time in jail.

First-Time DUI Convictions in Georgia

Except in extreme circumstances, most first-time DUIs are misdemeanors, and although jail is a possibility, a competent DUI defense attorney can usually help you avoid getting sentenced to the maximum penalties. Penalties can include:

  •      Up to a year in jail
  •      $300 to $1000 in fines, plus statutory surcharges
  •      40 hours of community service
  •      DUI Risk Reduction Program
  •      Clinical evaluation for drug and alcohol dependency and any recommended treatment
  •      License suspension for a minimum of 120 days

It’s important to note that these penalties only apply to the DUI portion of your case. If you were charged with other crimes or there are aggravating circumstances to your DUI arrest, the penalty exposure will increase.

DUI Arrests with Prior Convictions

If you’re arrested for a DUI and you have a prior conviction or convictions within the past ten years, you’ll face enhanced penalties:

2nd DUI (one prior conviction) – Misdemeanor

  • Up to a year in jail and/or on probation, with 72 hours of mandatory jail time
  • $600 – $1000 in fines, plus statutory surcharges
  • 30 days of community service
  • DUI Risk Reduction Program
  • Clinical evaluation for drug and alcohol dependency and any recommended treatment
  • License suspension for up to three years
  • Possible mandatory ignition interlock device

3rd DUI (two prior convictions) – Misdemeanor

  • Up to a year in jail and/or on probation, with 15 days of mandatory jail time
  • $1000 – $5000 in fines, plus statutory surcharges
  • 30 days of community service
  • DUI Risk Reduction Program
  • Clinical evaluation for drug and alcohol dependency and any recommended treatment
  • License suspension/revocation for up to five years
  • Possible mandatory ignition interlock device

4th DUI (three prior convictions) – Felony

  • 1 – 5 years in state prison, with 90 days of mandatory jail time
  • Five years on probation, minus any jail time served
  • $1000 – $5000 in fines, plus statutory surcharges
  • Minimum of 480 hours (60 days) of community service
  • DUI Risk Reduction Program
  • Clinical evaluation for drug and alcohol dependency and any recommended treatment
  • License suspension/revocation for up to five years
  • Possible mandatory ignition interlock device

Implied Consent and BAC-Testing Refusal

Under the state of Georgia’s implied consent law, you have implicitly agreed to submit to “chemical tests for your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances” as a condition of driving on the roadways of Georgia. You can, however, withdraw your consent at the time of your arrest. If you don’t provide a sample—usually breath or urine—your license can be suspended for a minimum period of one year.

The State’s DUI Case Against You

Whether you were arrested by Cobb County Police, Marietta Police, Cobb County Sheriff’s Office, or another Atlanta-area police department, DUI arrest procedures throughout the state of Georgia follow a similar protocol.  Any deviation from procedure or established law could lead to a suppression of vital evidence against you. If that happens, your case might eventually be dismissed or your charges reduced. Your DUI defense lawyer will examine each step in the process to examine whether the police made an error that can help you beat your DUI charges.

  • Reasonable, Articulable Suspicion for the StopIn order for the police to investigate you for DUI, they must have a valid reason to pull you over. Some of these include witnessing a driving pattern consistent with DUI, an anonymous complaint, a driving violation, an equipment violation, or being caught in a DUI checkpoint.
  • Physical ObservationsThe officer should note whether you physically displayed any signs of impairment, such as bloodshot eyes, staggering, slurred speech, the odor of an alcoholic beverage, etc.  
  • Field Sobriety EvaluationsField sobriety evaluations (also called “field sobriety tests”) are designed to test your ability to listen to and follow instructions and then physically perform what the officer tells you to do (such as walk a line in a heel-to-toe manner). Field sobriety evaluations are often recorded by officer dash cams, and they’re admissible in court. Georgia police officers use the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) evaluations to help determine whether you’re over the legal limit. A refusal to participate in field sobriety evaluations doesn’t have any legal consequences, but an officer can still make an arrest based upon their observations.
  • Implied ConsentIf officers decide to arrest you based on the evidence that they’ve collected, they’ll remind you of Georgia’s implied consent law and ask you if you’ll submit to chemical testing. If you refuse, your license may be suspended, and your refusal can be used against you in court. Likewise, if you submit to the test, your results are admissible in court.

DUI Defense Attorney in Marietta and Cobb County

If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Cobb County, you’re not alone. The state of Georgia consistently arrests over 20,000 individuals for drunk driving every year. The DUI attorneys at Smith, Schnatmeier, Dettmering, & Reeves, LLP, have successfully defended hundreds of clients against criminal charges, like DUI. Contact our Marietta, GA law office to schedule a free initial consultation.


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