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Georgia Under 21 DUI

For purposes of criminal liability, Georgia considers people 17 years and up to be adults. That said, Georgia treats drivers under 21 years old differently than it does older drivers. This is the case when it comes to both traffic offenses and DUI charges. This article pertains to drivers between the ages of 17 and 21 years old because drivers under 17 accused of DUI will go before a Georgia juvenile court.  See here for information about Georgia Juvenile Court DUI cases.

Under 21 DUI vs. Over 21 DUI

The main difference between a DUI case for a person under 21 and a person over 21 is the “per se” legal limit. The “per se” legal limit comes into play if there is a test done (usually either breath or blood, though a urine test can also be done) and the individual’s blood alcohol concentration is over a particular amount. Because people under 21 are not legally allowed to drink at all, the Georgia Legislature has set the “per se” legal limit at 0.02 grams for those people.

Because the per se legal limit is so low for drivers under 21, many times those drivers are not actually impaired, and would not necessarily be “less safe” drivers. However, the per se law does not require the State to prove that a person under 21 was less safe if they took a test and tested over 0.02 grams.

When an under-21 driver is stopped and the officer suspects him/her of DUI, the officer will read the under-21 Implied Consent warning:

“Georgia law requires you to submit to state administered chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances for the purpose of determining if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you refuse this testing, your Georgia driver’s license or privilege to drive on the highways of this state will be suspended for a minimum period of one year. Your refusal to submit to the required testing may be offered into evidence against you at trial. If you submit to testing and the results indicate an alcohol concentration of 0.02 grams or more, your Georgia driver’s license or privilege to drive on the highways of this state may be suspended for a minimum period of one year. After first submitting to the required state tests, you are entitled to additional chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances at your own expense and from qualified personnel of your own choosing. Will you submit to the state administered chemical tests of your blood/breath/urine under the implied consent law?”

Potential Criminal Penalties for Under 21 DUIs

Because 17-year-olds are considered to be adults, the criminal penalties are identical for those under 21 as they are for people over 21. Below are the possible outcomes for DUIs in Georgia State and Superior Courts.

OffenseClassificationSentencing Range
First Offense in 10 YearsMisdemeanorAt least 24 hours but not more than 1 year of jail time;

12 months of probation, less any time spent in jail;

A fine of $300 – $1,000, plus surcharges and court costs;

40 hours of community service at a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization;

DUI or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program;

Clinical Evaluation and Treatment;

License Suspension
Second Offense in 10 YearsMisdemeanorAt least 72 hours but not more than 1 year of jail time;

12 months of probation, less any time spent in jail;

A fine of $600 – $1,000 plus surcharges and court costs;

240 hours of community service at a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization;

DUI or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program;

Clinical Evaluation and Treatment;

License Suspension
Third Offense in 10 YearsHigh & Aggravated MisdemeanorAt least 120 days but not more than 1 year of jail time;

12 months of probation, less any time spent in jail;

A fine of $1,000 – $5,000 plus surcharges and court costs;

240 hours of community service at a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization;

DUI or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program;

Clinical Evaluation and Treatment;

License Revocation
Fourth or Subsequent Offense in 10 YearsFelonyAt least 90 days but not more than 5 years in jail/prison;

5 years of probation, less any time spent in incarceration;

A fine of $1,000 – $5,000 plus surcharges;

At least 60 days of community service at a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization;

DUI or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program;

Clinical Evaluation and Treatment;

License Revocation

License Penalties for Under 21 DUIs

The license penalties for Under-21 DUI convictions are also different than the penalties for individuals who obtain convictions after the age of 21. They are as follows:

Offense License Penalty
1st DUI in 5 years IF BAC was UNDER 0.08 grams6-month suspension
1st DUI in 5 years IF test results were suppressed6-month suspension
1st DUI in 5 years IF BAC was OVER 0.08 grams12-month suspension
1st DUI in 5 years IF there was a prior suspension for a serious traffic charge12-month suspension
2nd DUI in 5 years18-month suspension
3rd DUI in 5 yearsLicense revocation

All reinstatements require completion of a Drug and Alcohol Risk Reduction Program and payment of a reinstatement fee.  For a first offense, the reinstatement fee is $210 if paid in person and $200 if paid by mail. For a second or subsequent offense, the reinstatement fee is $310 if paid in person and $300 if paid by mail.

An important note:  These suspension periods are not administrative license suspensions, although suspension periods may overlap. If your license was administratively suspended because you refused the breath/blood test and you also failed to appeal the suspension, your actual period of suspension may be longer than listed on this table. You should discuss your options with a Georgia DUI Attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.

Also note:  No limited permits are available for drivers under 21 whose licenses have been suspended due to a DUI a conviction.

Why should I hire an attorney for an Under 21 DUI?

While all DUI cases can drastically impact a person’s life, this is especially true for people under 21. Because no work permits are allowed for drivers under 21, getting convicted of a DUI could leave you stuck taking the bus to work or to school, or bumming rides from friends. Although the legal limit is lower for drivers under 21, that does not mean that your case is hopeless. The same defenses apply in cases of under 21 drivers as in cases involving older drivers. You should be sure to hire a Georgia DUI Defense Attorney with experience picking through every piece of evidence necessary to fight these cases.  Call me today.

URGENT: If you are under 21 and have been arrested for DUI in Georgia, you have only 30 days to appeal the administrative suspension of your driver’s license.  If you fail to act, your license will be suspended. No work permits are available for drivers under 21, so you will not be able to drive if you do not appeal the suspension. Call me today.



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Writer

Kevin Fisher


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