Every day people choose to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. And every day a number of these individuals are pulled over, arrested, and subsequently charged with a DUI. Just one DUI conviction can have a significant impact on your life, resulting in fines, jail time, and license suspension. Many drivers convicted of driving under the influence face the consequences of their action then move on and avoid repeating the mistake in the future. However, a number of individuals do not.
Every year, people are arrested and charged a with a DUI a second, third, or even fourth time. According to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a third of those who are arrested or convicted of driving under the influence are repeat offenders. Each time an individual is convicted of a DUI, the penalties get harsher. This can include higher fines as well as more time behind bars. Additionally, if a person has multiple DUI convictions that person can be labeled as a 'habitual violator.' This status carries its own set of consequences. This page will discuss what being labeled a 'habitual violator' 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 conviction for driving under the influence is a violation of Code Section 40-6-391. Section 40-6-3914 is applicable to DUI offenses involving alcohol as well as DUI offenses involving other controlled substances.
What Happens When I Am Found To Be A Habitual Violator?
As a result of getting three DUI's in a five-year period, an individual may be declared to be a 'habitual violator'. It is not a crime to be a habitual violator, instead, it is a status. As a consequence of being declared a habitual violator, an individual can have his or her license revoked for five years. Driving a motor vehicle without a license during the revocation period is against the law and can result in additional criminal penalties.
After a period of two years, a probationary license can be issued. This probationary license is valid for three years. There are several things a habitual violator needs to show in order to obtain this temporary license including:
- Refusing the individual a temporary license will cause that individual an extreme hardship, including preventing him or her from going to work, attending school, etc.
- The applicant has to complete 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 that he or she has 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 probationary license gives a habitual violator the right to drive, however, there may be restrictions placed on that license. These restrictions can include a number of things including, what time of day a driver can be on the roads, what locations a driver can travel to, and what routes a driver is allowed to take. You can contact your Hall County DUI Lawyers if you have any questions regarding restrictions.
It is important to note that a temporary license may not be an option for every driver. 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).
What If I Drive While My License Is Revoked?
If a driver chooses to get behind the wheel while his or her license was suspended, that driver can face serious consequences for that choice including fines, time behind bars, and revocation of the probationary license. It is important to be aware that if a person's probationary license is revoked, that person will not be able to apply for another for a period of five years. § 40-5-58(e)(6)(D). The penalties an individual will face for driving without a license will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case.
- Violating The Terms Of The Probationary License: If an individual violates the terms that were placed on his or her license, then that person may be guilty of a misdemeanor offense and could have the probationary license revoked, in addition to other penalties. § 40-5-58(e)(6)(A)(i).
- Driving Without A License After Five Year Revocation: If a person drives without a license after the five-year revocation period is up but before he or she has been issued a new license, that individual can be found guilty of a misdemeanor. 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 with three DUI convictions is found driving without a license during the revocation period, that person 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. If you are facing DUI charges in Hall County, contact Hall County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson today. Richard Lawson has been working as DUI defense attorney in Georgia for twenty years and has represented thousands of clients. Let his extensive experience and knowledge work for you. Please do not hesitate to contact his office today at (404) 816-4440, or click here to fill out an online form.