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Does DUI Require Jail Time in Georgia?


A top priority of most DUI clients is to stay out of jail no matter what. Of course, this is one of our goals and will certainly factor into how we build your defense. Even on a first DUI in Georgia, you are usually facing more jail time, so read this article early on to understand how the system works.

Under Georgia law, DUI jail time depends on how many prior DUI arrests you have had in the past 10 years. The following minimums apply:

  • 1st DUI in 10 years: 24 hours jail
  • 2nd DUI in 10 years: 90 days, with a minimum of 72 hours actual incarceration
  • 3rd DUI in 10 years: 120 days, with a minimum of 15 days actual incarceration
  • 4th DUI in 10 years: 1-5 years, with a minimum of 90 days actual incarceration

As you can see, DUI jail sentences are stacked, with mandatory jail time required, especially on 2nd and subsequent offenses.

With this said, there are some exceptions. A common question deals with DUIs outside of 10 years. Do they still count? Technically, no, but judges and prosecutors alike consider these DUIs when extending plea offers and deciding whether to accept any negotiations in your case. For example, I have had clients where a DUI is their first in the 2000s, but they had a terrible waive of 4 in the 80s and 90s. These cases are still difficult to defend against judges and prosecutors who assume you have a drinking problem and must have fallen off the wagon.

Depending on the jurisdiction, some judges will allow you to not go back to jail on a first DUI. Most courts look at how much time you spent in jail, and factor in good time credit. This means for every hour you spent in jail, you get two hours of credit. So, on a first DUI you must really sit in jail 12 hours, rather than a full 24. I've seen judges not even ask, and I've seen plenty of judges check the jail log to see, down to the minute, how long someone stayed in jail.

If you want to avoid jail time all together, it takes a combination of a proactive approach to your defense and achieving a non-DUI outcome. From our first meeting, we will detail the strengths and weaknesses of your case, as well as our approach to your specific defense. No two cases are alike, so we never give standard or boilerplate advice. What we do execute is a proactive, aggressive defense designed to force the prosecution into extending the best deal possible to you. Avoiding jail time, saving your driver's license and salvaging your record are our top goals.

If you have questions about how we can defend your DUI, call us anytime, 24/7/365.

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