Criminal Defense Matters

Criminal Defense Matters

Criminal Defense Matters

Is a DUI a Felony? Georgia DUI Laws Explained

By: Cory Yager, William Head, Larry Kohn, best Criminal Defense attorneys near me and Georgia Super Lawyers

In the state of Georgia, a driving under the Influence (DUI) charge can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. A conviction, regardless of felony or misdemeanor, will stay on your record for life, if convicted. That last part is critical, because our DUI attorneys near me do everything possible to beat a DUI, reduce a DUI or go to trial to have a jury say, “not guilty.”

GA DUI Laws, Felony or Misdemeanor?

If a DUI is a felony DUI charge, substantially more negative DUI penalties and consequences will follow. Below, our criminal defense attorneys near me in metro Atlanta explain six circumstances that automatically classify a DUI in Georgia as a felony offense. When faced with the prospect of a 5-year state prison sentence, retaining the best lawyers near me can maximize your chances to win the operating a motor vehicle under the influence charge.

GA DUI Law Firm

Charged as a Felony: Driving under the Influence Laws in GA Explained

People arrested by police for DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated) frantically search for information on misdemeanor DUI vs felony DUI. In the state of Georgia, most DUI charges are classified as misdemeanors unless the DUI charge consists of one of the six characteristics discussed below.

When is a DUI a Felony? Felony charges are more serious than misdemeanor charges, and their multiple types of penalties are also more severe. Your driver’s license impact is one place that shows this difference.

As in most criminal laws, certain circumstances about the DUI arrest and the driver’s prior criminal history of other crimes determine felony vs misdemeanor. A misdemeanor crime of DUI results in a license that is suspended, or revoked license when a felony. Revoked means that your name is removed from Georgia DMV records, and (once eligible many years later) you must restart the full process of applying to drive in Georgia again.

To ensure which type of driving under the influence charges you are facing, contact a DUI criminal defense attorney immediately to set up a consultation. Based on the facts, our three award-winning criminal lawyers near me will determine the type of criminal charges, either felony or misdemeanor.

New DUI laws went into effect July 1, 2017, these require implied consent violators to file an appeal or install the ignition interlock device within 30 calendar days, to avoid driver’s license suspension. Implied consent is an essential part of all DUI arrests, by having the privilege to drive on Georgia roads, you are obligated to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test.

These tests measure your blood alcohol content level, or the amount of alcohol in your system. Arresting officers read the implied consent notice but fail to mention that by submitting to the test, you are incriminating yourself and voluntarily giving evidence. If you refuse testing, you are subject to all your rights as a driver being taken and your license suspended.

Unlike the State of Tennessee, which now requires an ignition interlock device on all DUI convictions, Georgia ties the IID (ignition interlock device) to getting early reinstatement after a 2nd DUI in GA, or subsequent offense. The waiting periods for use of an interlock device can begin in as little as 120 days for a second offense DUI in the past 5 years but a third DUI in five years causes a license revocation for 5 years.

Because the State of Georgia does not allow record restriction (expungement) of ANY DUI offense, you will have a permanent criminal record, even for a first lifetime drunk driving charge. First offense DUI charges can result in penalties such as: license suspension, mandatory driving risk reduction courses and a clinical drug or alcohol dependency assessment, 40 hours of community service, probation, jail time, court costs and fines.

What is a Felony DUI? In Georgia, six factors determine if a DUI becomes a felony. The charging decision of DUI misdemeanor or felony hinges on the FACTS of each case.

Like most other states, if you injure or kill another individual, expect to face DUI felony charges. These charges are susceptible to serving a minimum of one year in jail or up to a maximum of five years in jail. Each fact pattern must be reviewed to determine “is drunk driving a felony?”

When is a DUI a Felony in Georgia?

When is a DUI felony going to be Accused? These are the six ways to be facing DUI felony charges in Georgia:

(1) Repeat offenses amounting to a 4th DUI conviction within 10 years (if you have three prior DUI convictions since July 1, 2008.) This carries fines as high as $10,000 and 5 years of state prison time.

(2) DUIs involving an accident causing death to another individual creates a first-degree vehicular homicide felony DUI; The conviction for a 1st Degree VH DUI in Georgia can result in three to fifteen years in prison per death.

(3) DUIs involving an accident causing serious bodily injury to another person, which means scars, burns, broken bones, etc. This is a first-degree SIBV (serious injury by vehicle) DUI felony. Even if the injured person is in your vehicle during the time of the accident. The minimum sentence for this charge is two years served in prison, and the maximum is fifteen years.

(4) If you are charged for a DUI while operating a school bus. This type of drunk driving charge does not require any students to be on the bus, either. The state of Georgia requires higher driving standards for those operating different types of vehicles or have a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) Even if the driver has NO prior convictions.

(5) If one drinks and drives after having been declared a habitual violator from prior DUI cases and some other serious driving offenses, being arrested again within 5 years of that previous DUI conviction date will result in a felony DUI. Despite being permitted to drive on a provisional license. Arrests outside the 5-year mark are a misdemeanor offense.

DUI Child Endangerment Attorneys Near Me in metro Atlanta

Child Endangerment DUI Lawyers


(6) Endangering a child. Georgia DUI laws have been written in a way to create a felony DUI offense more quickly than in most other states. For example, with a child endangerment DUI in Georgia, a unique provision of Georgia DUI laws permits an unlimited amount of DUI charges (for all the children in the vehicle under age 14) to flow from that SINGLE driving event. OCGA 40-6-391 (l) is worded as follows:

(l) A person who violates this Code section while transporting in a motor vehicle a child under the age of 14 years is guilty of the separate offense of endangering a child by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The offense of endangering a child by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs shall not be merged with the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs for the purposes of prosecution and sentencing.

An offender who is convicted of a violation of this subsection shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of subsection (d) of Code Section 16-12-1, relating to the offense of contributing to the delinquency, unruliness, or deprivation of a child.

Georgia Law Firms Near Me with Experienced DUI Attorneys Near Me to Defend You

Give yourself a fighting chance by hiring one of our top-rated criminal defense attorneys. Our three 24-hour lawyers near me will analyze every aspect of your DUI case. At Kohn & Yager, LLC. and William C. Head, P.C., our trial lawyers understand the impact these charges have on all aspects of your life.

GA DUI Attorneys Experienced Super Lawyer

We provide the exceptional legal representation you need when so much is at stake. Our award-winning, three-partner Atlanta DUI attorney law firm has four metro Atlanta GA office locations.

Call today to 404-567-5515 and ask for William C. Head, Cory E. Yager and Lawrence A. (Larry) Kohn to set up a free virtual consultation. These Atlanta DUI attorneys near me have nearly 80 years of collective DUI defense and criminal law litigation experience, in all types of criminal cases.

Free Virtual Consultation DUI Atlanta Case

Our drunk driving defense lawyers in Atlanta Georgia also have experience and serve in Cherokee County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Forsyth County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County and Henry County, just to name a few. We have office locations in 4 zip code districts, 30342, 30009, 30303, and 30060.

No matter if you face a DUI felony or misdemeanor, our law office offers:

Unsurpassed legal industry credentials (see legal books above); FREE lawyer consultation IN PERSON or via Facetime or alternative digital media source; FREE PDF copy of Mr. Head’s 430-page drunk driving book, written for clients; Attorneys fee payment plans, using periodic credit card payments.

Want to learn more?

Explanation of the many acronyms for DUI-DWI-OUI in America

GA DUI Defense

Atlanta DUI Lawyer

Georgia Criminal Defense Felony Charges

Traffic Violations, Codes and Fines

Check out our site’s Georgia DUI Facts Infographic, or

Justia’s website on Implied Consent Notices


The information you obtain at this web site, related videos, image resources, Facebook, Twitter or other social media content, or blog postings is not, nor is it intended to be or provide, legal advice from a Georgia lawyer. This page is designed to help you find legal information, learn the basics about any criminal offense or court case in the state of Georgia, and then search for attorneys near me for your representation in GA.

You are well advised to consult an attorney for legal advice regarding your individual situation, and to obtain targeting help from an experienced lawyer in the community. Our Georgia lawyers invite you to peruse our site for answers to FAQs, charts, graphics and explanation of legal terms about Georgia laws. Then, call today about our legal services. 

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