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New DUI laws in Georgia in effect Jan. 1, 2013

New Year's Day is almost here, which means many folks in Athens might be getting ready to go out this evening to celebrate the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013.

If your New Year's Eve plans involve drinking some champagne at midnight, just make sure you plan to get a ride home from a sober driver in order to avoid the possibility of a DUI arrest. As we mentioned before on our blog, law enforcement officers are adding extra patrols on the road this evening to crack down on drunk driving.

DUI charges can result in harsh consequences in Georgia, especially for repeat offenders, and residents should be aware that some of these penalties will change starting Jan. 1, 2013.

One change includes reducing the number of days in which two-time DUI offenders can apply for a driving permit. Beginning Jan. 1, offenders who have been convicted twice of DUI will only need to wait 120 days to apply for a driving permit instead of waiting 12 months after their most recent conviction. However, offenders applying for a driving permit will need to agree to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles. They will also need to complete or enroll in a treatment program that is approved by the court.

Other changes might not be so beneficial for folks accused of drunk driving. Individuals who are under 21 and charged with DUI will face the same sentencing as those who are 21 or older and charged with DUI.

As always, the best way to avoid a DUI conviction or repeat DUI conviction is to avoid driving drunk. When individuals are at risk of being convicted of drunk driving, though, they may benefit from working with an experienced defense attorney.

Source: WSB Atlanta, "New Program gives DUI offenders quicker access to licenses," Richard Elliot, Dec. 27, 2012