Every year people choose to get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A number of these individuals are subsequently arrested and charged with DUI. Even one DUI conviction can result in significant consequences including fines, time in jail, and license suspension. Though many people who are convicted of a DUI face their penalties, move on with their lives, and avoid any further interaction with the criminal justice system, this is not the case for everyone.
A number of individuals are arrested every year and charged with their second, third, and fourth DUI. In fact, about one-third of those who are arrested or convicted of a DUI are repeat offenders. Each subsequent DUI conviction results in more severe consequences including higher fines and lengthier prison sentences. In addition, a person with multiple DUI convictions can be labeled a habitual violator which carries its own set of consequences. This article will discuss what being a habitual offender means in Georgia.
What Is A Habitual Violator?
A habitual offender is defined under Georgia law as:
"[A]ny person who has been arrested and convicted within the United States three or more times within a five-year period of time, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained to the date of the most recent arrest for which a conviction was obtained, of:
(1) Committing any offense covered under Code Section 40-5-54 or Code Sections 40-6-391 through 40-6-395 or violating a federal law or regulation or the law of any state or a valid municipal or county ordinance substantially conforming to any offense covered under Code Section 40-5-54 or Code Sections 40-6-391 through 40-6-395; or
(2) Singularly or in combination, any of the offenses described in paragraph (1) of this subsection."
Ga. Code Ann. § 40-5-58(a)(1)-(2) (2015). A DUI conviction is a violation of the above mentioned Code Section 40-6-391. The section is applicable to both DUI offenses involving alcohol as well as those involving other controlled substances.
What Happens When I Am Found To Be A Habitual Violator?
'Habitual violator' is a status, not a crime. An individual who is declared to be a habitual violator will face license revocation for a period of time as a result of having three DUI convictions on his or her record in five years. In general, a habitual violator will have his or her license revoked for a period of five years. Once a person has received notice that his or her license has been revoked, it will be against the law for that person to drive until either the revocation period is up or a probationary license is issued.
A probationary license can be issued after two years and will be good for a period of three years. In order to obtain a temporary license, the habitual violator will need to show several things including:
- Refusing the individual a temporary license will cause that individual an extreme hardship, preventing him or her from going to work, attending school, etc.
- He or she has completed any driving or alcohol/drug programs that were assigned.
- The person applying for a temporary license cannot have been convicted or plead nolo contendere to certain types of offenses.
- The applicant must submit proof of insurance
- The applicant must submit a sworn affidavit that states he or she does not use illegal substances and does not use alcohol in excess. § 40-5-58(e)(1).
The temporary license may have certain restrictions placed on it that limits what a driver can do. These limits may include limiting where a driver can go, what routes he or she can take, what times of day a driver can be on the roads, etc.
It is important to note that if someone died in a motor vehicle crash because of an intoxicated driver, that driver if he or she has subsequently been convicted of a DUI, will not be able eligible for a probationary license. § 40-5-58(f). Contact your Roswell, Georgia DUI Attorneys to find out more.
What If I Drive While My License Is Revoked?
A driver who chooses to get behind the wheel while his or her license was suspended can face serious consequences for doing so including fines, time behind bars, and revocation of the probationary license. It is important to note that if an individual's probationary license is revoked, that person cannot apply for another probationary license for five years. § 40-5-58(e)(6)(D). The consequences that an individual will face depend on the violation.
- Violating The Terms Of The Probationary License: A person who violates the limits placed on his or her temporary license may be guilty of a misdemeanor offense and could have that license revoked, in addition to other penalties. § 40-5-58(e)(6)(A)(i).
- Driving Without A License After Five Year Revocation: A person can be found guilty of a misdemeanor if he or she drives without a license after the five-year license revocation period is over, but before the department has issued that person a new license. The penalties can include a $1000 fine and up to a year in prison.
- Driving Without A License During Five-Year Revocation: If an individual had his or her license revoked after a third DUI in five years, and that person is found to be driving without a license, he or she can be charged with a felony. The penalties can include a $1000 fine and between one and five years in prison.
- Getting Another DUI While A Habitual Violator: A habitual violator who is arrested for a DUI may face a number of consequences. First, he or she could be charged with a felony, as a fourth DUI is a felony charge in Georgia. In addition, that person will face whatever penalties are applicable under the habitual violator statute. For example, if the individual was issued a probationary license and was arrested for driving under the influence with this license, he or she could face a $1000 fine and between one and five years in prison.
Contact A DUI Attorney
Being declared a habitual violator can have a significant impact on your life and your ability to get to work or school. If you have been charged with a DUI in Roswell or Alpharetta, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Richard Lawson. Alpharetta, Georgia DUI Attorney Richard Lawson has been working as DUI defense attorney for twenty years and has handled thousands of cases. Let his extensive experience and knowledge work for you. Call his office today at (404) 816-4440, or click here to fill out an online form.