For most adult drivers in Georgia, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.08%. For drivers of commercial vehicles, the BAC limit is 0.04%. Pursuant to Georgia zero-tolerance law, drivers under 21 must not have a BAC over 0.02%.
In the Peach State, there are significant and specific penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol. Your potential criminal exposure depends on both your DUI history and the passage of time. Nonetheless, judges have wide flexibility to deliver the sentence they see fit.
Mandatory minimum penalties
If you are facing DUI charges, you should understand the mandatory minimum sentence. This is simply the sentence a judge must hand down pursuant to state law.
For example, a first-time DUI defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 40 hours of community service. Because this sentence is mandatory under the law, a judge typically must abide by it.
The maximum penalty is at the opposite end of the sentencing spectrum from the mandatory minimum one. With most misdemeanor offenses, like a standard DUI, the maximum sentence is one year.
When sentencing defendants, judges typically have latitude to implement any sentence between the mandatory minimum and the maximum penalty.
Special probation conditions and additional penalties
A sentence of probation is often preferable to jail-time. Still, judges may impose an array of special probation conditions. If you violate any of these conditions, a judge may send you to jail.
Similarly, if your DUI offense has aggravating factors or other special circumstances, the judge in your case may assess additional penalties.