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Repeat and first-time DUI penalties may change again in Georgia

Earlier this year on our Athens, Georgia, DUI law blog, we had mentioned that as of Jan. 1, two-time DUI offenders may be granted restricted driving privileges in Georgia after having their licenses suspended for 120 days. However, those who are convicted of a second DUI must first complete a substance abuse treatment program and agree to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles for at least eight months in order to be able to drive again shortly after a repeat DUI conviction.

Although this change in the state's DUI laws was new this year, the law may soon be changing again. Last week, Georgia legislators passed a bill that will require repeat DUI offenders to use ignition interlock devices in their vehicles for at least 12 months after a 120-day driver's license suspension if they want to get some of their driving privileges back. Legislators also approved a bill that would require those convicted of a first-offense DUI to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles.

Lawmakers and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have argued that the use of interlock devices for anyone who has been convicted of DUI may help to significantly reduce the number of drunk drivers on our roads. But when passing laws that increase penalties for DUI offenders, many factors must be taken into consideration.

For example, the use of ignition interlock devices may be very costly. When the devices are only mandated for a certain period of time, first-time offenders who have already recognized their mistakes and paid for their mistakes may be forced to pay additional expenses and penalties that may not be necessary. When folks are required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles, they may need to pay an installation fee, a daily fee for using the device and a fee for having the device removed.

A DUI conviction may result in a variety of legal and social problems for folks in Georgia. In order to avoid a conviction when possible, many folks choose to consult an attorney who will know how to defend their cases in an aggressive and strategic manner.

Source: The Red & Black, "Legislation passes to reduce repeat DUI offenses," Emily Schoone, March 31, 2013