If you have received a DUI in Georgia, then what you may not know is that the clock has started ticking on you facing a ONE YEAR HARD SUSPENSION of your Georgia Drivers License. You have only 30 days from the date you're arrested to make sure the DDS does not suspend your license for one year on suspicion of DUI. This may apply whether or not the officer arresting you took a physical copy of your license, whether or not you completed a breathalyzer test, or if you refused to blow. A license suspension begins immediately and is a civil matter separate from your DUI charge. Once this time limit expires, if action has not been taken, you will not be eligible for a provisional, temporary license, even if your DUI is later reduced! 



In Georgia, drivers who are impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in two different ways: “DUI-less-safe,” and DUI “per se.”

No matter your blood alcohol concentration (BAC)—and even if you refuse the state’s chemical test—you can be charged with DUI-less-safe if the arresting officer determines that you’re impaired to the point that you’re a less safe driver. Refusing to take state administered tests may also result in a violation of Georgi’a Implied Consent Law. If chemical testing shows your BAC is .08% or more within three hours of driving, you can be charged with DUI per se.; pursuant to Ga. Code Ann. § 40-6-391(a) (2016).

Here are the possible consequences for a first-offense DUI conviction (in 10 years) in Georgia.

Jail Time and Probation

Generally, a first-offense DUI is a misdemeanor. The Judge can sentence you to spend up to 12 months in the county jail. Most sentences will be 10 days minimum in custody, however the Judge may suspend, stay, or probate all but 24 hours.  You would need an Attorney to make sure you receive the minimum jail time- or none at all. There is no statutory minimum jail sentence when the state cannot prove .08% or more. If your BAC was .08% or more, the law requires you to serve at least 24 hours in jail. 

Your total sentence cannot be shorter than a year, and with a first DUI, you’ll likely spend most of that time on probation instead of in jail- 12 months in total. While on probation, you’ll be required to pay a monthly supervision fee, and your probation officer will monitor you to make sure you’re completing all the required terms of your sentence. An Attorney may persuade the Court to allow you to be on unsupervised probation so that you do not have to meet with probation in person each month. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Fines and Costs

DUIs are expensive, even if it’s your first offense. Fines range from $300.00 to $1,000.00, but that amount can almost double once the required surcharges are added. You must attend the DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program (“Risk Reduction Program” or "DUI School"), a 20-hour course that costs over $360. This course is also one of the requirements for getting your license reinstated by the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS). 

Community Service and Counseling

You will also have to complete at least 40 hours of community service work and participate in a clinical evaluation for alcohol or drug dependency. If the clinical evaluator determines that you need treatment, you’ll have to complete the recommended number of counseling sessions as part of your sentence. (Ga. Code Ann. § 40-6-391(c)(1) (2016).

License Penalties

In addition to the penalties outlined above, a DUI conviction will have an impact on your driver’s license. For a first non-drug-related DUI conviction (for drivers over the age of 21), the DDS will suspend your license for 12 months. Depending on your driving history, you might be eligible for a limited permit to drive to and from work and school and other permissible places.  If you complete DUI School prior to your plea, an Affidavit of First Offender may also be presented by your Attorney to the presiding Judge which, upon approval, will allow you to immediately apply for a temporary permit. 

After 120 days, you can request early reinstatement of your license by paying a reinstatement fee of $210 (or $200 if you’re requesting reinstatement by mail).

Q: Couldn’t you just wait 12 months and have your license automatically reinstated?

A: No. Georgia law makes it clear that if you want your license back, you’ll have to meet the above 2 requirements, no matter how much time has passed since your conviction.

(Be aware that a license suspension resulting from a conviction is different from what’s called an “administrative license suspension.” An administrative suspension can be imposed by DDS before you even go to court for your DUI.) Ask your Attorney about an ALS hearing if you have not already addressed. 


Generally speaking, sentencing law is complex and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, a statute might list a “minimum” jail sentence that’s longer than the actual amount of time (if any) a defendant will have to spend behind bars. All kinds of factors can affect actual punishment and will vary with each individual as each case has a different set of facts and circumstances.