Not a single person reading this article is anticipating that they will have a DUI arrest in the coming weeks or months. For your sake, I hope that is true. However the statistics show that DUI arrests are on the rise. FBI Statistics show arrest rates for DUI in Georgia as follows: 2005 - 13,680 arrests; 2006 - 16,615 arrests; 2007 - 26,442 arrests; 2008 - 25,421 arrests; 2009 - not available; 2010 - 28,712 arrests. Even if you are not arrested for DUI, perhaps you will know someone who is, and this article may provide them with some information that neither they nor their attorney knows about.
The new law, effective January 1, 2013, address second convictions for DUI within a five year period. The dates are calculated from arrest date to arrest date, so you can’t simply draw out a plea date if you are hoping to get past the five year “look back” provision. In the 2012 version of the law (O.C.G.A. 40-6-391), an individual with a second DUI in 5 years was mandated to serve a 12 month “hard” license suspension. It was considered “hard” because you were not eligible for any kind of limited permit. Under a first offense, under both the old and new law, you can apply immediately for a limited permit to drive to and from work or school. Once you serve a 120 day suspension, with or without the limited permit, you can apply for a full reinstatement. The prerequisites are that you complete the DUI driving class (typically an 8 hour defensive driving school) and pay a $210.00 reinstatement fee to the Department of Driver Services (DDS).
Under the new law, a person convicted of a second offense may, at the discretion of the trial judge, accelerate the “hard” suspension, reducing the time from one year to 120 days. So now you will be able to apply for a limited permit from DDS after serving a four month hard suspension instead of a 12 month hard suspension. The new law will require that, prior to obtaining the limited permit, an individual must seek out professional therapeutic drug and alcohol counseling and engage in meaningful education and rehabilitation for their problems. Once they have obtained this “Drug and Alcohol evaluation and treatment” as described in the sentencing documents, the individual can apply for an “ignition interlock” permit. As the name implies, this is still a limited permit, only for the purpose of driving to and from school and work, but it ALSO requires the operator to have an ignition interlock device installed (at his or her own expense) on any car they are operating. This device requires a breath sample to be submitted to a computer attached to the starter of the vehicle. If the device detects any alcohol in the breath sample, it will not allow the operator to start the car.
Interestingly, the law could possibly go through a further revision in 2013. There is some speculation that the legislature will simply require that all individuals convicted of a FIRST DUI offense, have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle. If I was out of work right now and looking for something to do, I might consider researching the installation of ignition interlock devices as a profitable career option in the not to distant future.