A third DUI within a 10 year period is considered a “high and aggravated” misdemeanor. This means that, while it is still technically considered a misdemeanor offense, a person convicted of such offense may be sentenced beyond what is normally permissible for a regular misdemeanor. For example, the fines for a third DUI may be required to pay up to $5,000 in fines, plus court fees. Because a third DUI carries not only the possibility of a huge legal penalty, but can also affect driving privileges for years to come, you should always contact an experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer prior to going to court.
What are the legal penalties for a Third DUI Conviction within 10 Years?
- A fine of $1,000 – $5,000 plus surcharges
- 12 months probation
- 120 days to 12 months of jail time
- 240 Hours of Community Service at a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization
- DUI Risk Reduction Program (See here for list of approved schools)
- Clinical Evaluation and Completement of Treatment If Recommended
Will I go to jail if I’m convicted of a third DUI within a 10 year period?
Georgia law requires that a person convicted of a third DUI within a ten year period to be sentenced to a minimum of 120 days of jail time. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391 does specify that all but 15 days of that time may be probated rather than spent in jail. The practical effect of this is that judges have huge discretion in deciding whether a person convicted of a third DUI in 10 years should spend 15 days or 6 months or even more in jail.
What about probation?
If convicted of a third DUI within a 10 year period, you will likely be sentenced to one year of probation, less any time spent in jail. Keep in mind, however, that people convicted of DUI often have associated charges. For example, individuals charged with DUI are often charged with, for example, speeding or child endangerment. If an individual is convicted on these charges as well as the DUI, the judge may add additional probation time beyond the 12 months that are permissible for a single misdemeanor offense, and some jurisdictions require additional probation time to be served “consecutively” rather than “concurrently,” meaning that the individual may be on probation much longer than one year. Experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys typically try to have additional charges “merged” with the DUI or dismissed altogether so that a person charged with multiple offenses can only be sentenced to a single 12-month sentence.
Is there a fine for a third DUI in 10 years?
Yes. The fine ranges from $1,000 to $5,000. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391 states that this fine cannot be suspended or probated. Additionally, most courts add additional “court costs,” which may nearly double the fine itself.
Are there other requirements?
Yes. Judges must, per Georgia law, require at least 240 hours (30 days) of community service work at a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. You must also complete a DUI Risk Reduction program and a clinical evaluation. Judges will require follow-up treatment if the clinical evaluation recommends it.
What happens to my driver’s license after a third DUI within a 10 year period?
It depends. The Georgia Department of Driver Services, unlike the justice system, only “looks back” five years to determine what license penalties a person should face after a DUI conviction. That means that if a person has two convictions that are 7 and 9 years old, respectively, they will be treated like a third-time offender by the Georgia court system, but as a first offender by the Department of Driver Services. If, however, a person has a third DUI within a five year period of time, that person’s license will be revoked, not merely suspended.
What if this is my Third Lifetime DUI, but my older convictions are more than ten years old?
The Georgia justice system has a ten-year “look back” period with regards to DUIs. This means that, for sentencing purposes, prosecutors and judges may only look at convictions that occurred in the past ten years. This means that, for this article to be applicable to you, both of your priors must be within the past 10 years, based on dates of arrest. If only one of your priors occurred within the last 10 years, see here. If neither of your priors occurred within the last 10 years, see here.
This does not mean, however, that prosecutors cannot inform judges of old offenses, or that judges may not have prior offenses in mind during sentencing. Georgia law gives judges a wide range of options with regards to sentencing, and as long as they stay within the permissible range of sentences for that particular offense. This means that a person with old charges, even if they are outside of the ten year “look back” period, will probably be sentenced more harshly than a person with no priors. You should always discuss prior charges, even if they are very old, with your Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney so that they can formulate the best defense in your case.
Should you hire an attorney for a Third DUI in 10 years?
As you can see, the potential outcomes of a third DUI within a 10 year period can be devastating. This is why it is so important to hire a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney with experience handling DUI cases to handle your case, especially if you have prior DUIs. Because judges have so much discretion and jurisdictions vary so wildly with regards to sentencing, you need a lawyer who knows the players in your jurisdiction. A good attorney knows the law, yes, but also knows which arguments are likely to succeed with the prosecutors and judges in your court. This experience is invaluable.