A DUI “Habitual Violator” is a person who has been arrested and convicted three (3) or more times within a five year period of Driving Under the Influence.
Note that a person can be deemed a Habitual Violator for non-DUI related offenses. This page only pertains to DUI Habitual Violators, or people who are convicted of DUI three times within a five-year period.
These DUI convictions do not need to be Georgia convictions to trigger Habitual Violator (HV) status. The law specifies that the convictions may take place in a different state or even in Federal court, so long as the statute under which the person was convicted “substantially conformed” to Georgia’s DUI statute.
Once a person is deemed a DUI Habitual Violator, the Department of Driver Services must notify the driver that his or her license is revoked (not suspended) and that it is therefore unlawful for them to operate a motor vehicle.
Penalties for Operating A Motor Vehicle as a Habitual Violator
It is not a crime in and of itself to be a Habitual Violator. Rather, it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle as a Habitual Violator (unless certain conditions are met).
If a person who has been declared a DUI Habitual Violator is convicted of operating a motor vehicle prior to receiving a new driver’s license from the Department of Driver Services, he or she will be guilty of the felony of Habitual Impaired Driving. This carries a penalty of at least one (1) year in prison, but no more than five (5) years, as well as a fine of up to $1,000.
For the most part, a plea of nolo contendre will count as a conviction and will not prevent the driver from being charged with the felony Habitual Impaired Driving.
A person who has been declared a Habitual Violator and whose license has been revoked for five years pursuant to the Habitual Violator statute may apply for a probationary driver’s license after two years if he or she:
- Has not been convicted or pleaded nolo contendre to a charge relating the operation of a motor vehicle during that two years,
- Has not been convicted or pleaded nolo contendre to a charge resulting in the death or injury of another person,
- Has successfully completed a Risk Reduction Program,
- Submits a sworn affidavit that he or she does not excessively use alcohol or drugs, including marijuana,
- Submits proof of financial responsibility,
- Shows that denial of a probationary license would cause “extreme hardship,” and
- Pays a $210 fee to the Department of Driver Services.
For purposes of this statute, “extreme hardship” means that, if denied the permit, the person would be unable to:
- Perform the duties of his/her occupation,
- Receive medical care or obtain prescription drugs,
- Attend college or school,
- Attend support group meetings,
- Attend court-ordered driver education or risk reduction program.
Even if all of these conditions are met, the probationary license may still be denied. It is discretionary.
If granted, these probationary licenses may be subject to certain conditions. The permit may only be used to drive during certain hours of the day, to and from certain designated places, and it may be restricted to certain vehicles. Violating these restrictions is a misdemeanor.
However, conviction of an additional serious driving offense (including DUI) while driving on a probationary license is a felony and carries a potential punishment of up to 5 years in prison.
It will also result in revocation of the probationary license, and any person whose probationary license is revoked may not apply for a subsequent probationary license for five (5) years.
Why You Need a Georgia DUI Defense Attorney
If you are being charged with driving as a Habitual Violator, you should contact a Georgia DUI Defense Attorney immediately. There may be defenses in your case. Do not go to court alone. I understand that any DUI matter is extremely stressful. That is why I pride myself on compassionate but aggressive advocacy. Call me today.
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