The penalties for a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in Georgia are quite severe, even for a first conviction. The convicted driver will have to pay as much as $1,000 in fines and serve up to 12 months of imprisonment. The driver will also be required to complete a DUI alcohol or drug use risk reduction program and several hours of community service.
A DUI first offense may be a misdemeanor, but harsher punishments await those who habitually break the law. But drivers can also face added penalties in certain conditions, such as having a child passenger at the time of the offense.
Child endangerment – a separate charge
Per Georgia law, anyone who violates the law by driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs while transporting a child aged 14 or below can face charges for the separate offense of endangering a child by driving under the influence.
By separating the offense for endangering a child, the accused driver will have to appear before two separate hearings each for their DUI and child endangerment charges. It also means the result of one hearing has no bearing on the result of the other.
The penalties for child endangerment
If a court convicts a driver of child endangerment through DUI, they can face the following punishments:
- For a first or second offense: The convicted driver gets a misdemeanor on their criminal record. They’ll have to pay as much as $1,000 in fines and serve a maximum 12-month prison sentence.
- For a third or subsequent offense: This offense is a felony, which carries as much as $5,000 in fines and a maximum three-year prison sentence.
These can add to a driver’s penalties for a DUI conviction, which include license suspension, a requirement to attend a DUI risk reduction program, an order to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle and more. Any jail sentence from a DUI conviction also adds to the incarceration period a driver convicted of child endangerment faces.
DUIs already lead to harsh penalties, but accused drivers who also happen to have a minor passenger at the time of their offense can expect even more punishments. Because drivers must handle two separate hearings, they should wisely consider their legal options.