Below is a summary of the major legislative provisions concerning DUI and teen driving laws. We hope that you find this summary a useful guide.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Office of the Solicitor General.
1. Nolo Contendere Plea will be treated as a conviction for any DUI.
Previously, some DUI violators could save their driver’s license by pleading Nolo Contendere (no contest). Now Nolo Contendere pleas are considered as convictions for all DUI arrests.
2. Zero tolerance for alcohol usage by drivers under the age of 21 years.
A driver under 21 years old is guilty of DUI if his alcohol concentration is 0.02 grams or more.
3. Lower alcohol level to commit a per se DUI.
The alcohol concentration level at which a person age 21 or older commits a per se DUI offense has now been lowered from 0.10 to 0.08 grams of alcohol. A per se DUI is one where no evidence of impaired driving is needed, only the evidence of the driver’s alcohol concentration.
4. Mandatory jail time for all DUI violators.
All DUI violators, upon conviction, spend time in jail. An offender who has not had a conviction arising from a DUI arrest during the previous five (5) years shall spend a minimum of twenty- four (24) hours in jail. Repeat DUI offenders face a mandatory 3 days in jail for the second conviction, and 15 days for the third.
5. Substance abuse treatment program for second time DUI violators.
A driver, who has a second DUI conviction within a five (5) year period, must undergo a clinical evaluation for alcohol or substance abuse and if a problem is indicated, he must complete an alcohol or substance abuse program before he can apply for reinstatement of his license, and must use an ignition interlock device.
6. License Tag seizure for violators and mandatory driver’s license suspension.
In addition to any other penalty, any driver who receives a conviction for a second or subsequent DUI in a five year period faces a mandatory surrender of all license plates registered to the driver. Also the driver will receive a “hard” (no limited permit available) suspension of his driver’s license for one year. Upon the third DUI conviction within 5 years, the driver will be declared a habitual violator, and receive a five year revocation of his license, with the first two years being a “hard” suspension.
7. Open containers of alcohol prohibited.
Open containers of alcohol are now prohibited in the passenger area of a motor vehicle to include a driver and/or passenger.
8. Road rage now has a name.
Operating a vehicle with intent to harass or intimidate another driver is a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature and is called Aggressive Driving.
9. Special suspension provisions for drivers under 21 years of age.
The driver’s license of any person under twenty-one (21) years of age shall be suspended if he or she is convicted of any of the following:
- hit and run / leaving the scene of an accident
- aggressive driving,
- using a motor vehicle in fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer,
- reckless driving,
- underage purchasing or knowingly possessing any alcoholic beverage while operating a motor vehicle,
- misrepresenting his age in any manner whatever for the purpose of obtaining any alcoholic beverage,
- misrepresenting his identity or using any false identification for the purpose of purchasing or obtaining any alcoholic beverage, or
- any offense for which four or more points are assessable under O.C.G.A. § 40-5- 57 (e.g. passing of a school bus, improper passing, or speeding in excess of the speed limit by 24 m.p.h. or more).
10. Convictions for moving violations in Georgia are assessed points as follows:
Aggressive driving – 6 points
Reckless driving – 4 points
Unlawful passing of a school bus – 6 points
Improper passing on a hill or a curve – 4 points
Exceeding the speed limit by more than 14 miles per hour but less than 19 m.p.h -2 points
Exceeding the speed limit by 19 m.p.h. or more but less than 24 m.p.h – 3 points
Exceeding the speed limit by 24 m.p.h. or more but less than 34 m.p.h – 4 points
Exceeding the speed limit by 34 m.p.h. or more – 6 points
Disobedience of any traffic control device or traffic officer – 3 points
Too fast for conditions – 0 points
Possessing an open container of an alcoholic beverage while driving – 2 points
Failure to adequately secure a load, except fresh farm produce, (accident) – 2 points
Violation of child safety restraint requirements, first offense – 1 point
Violation of child safety restraint requirements, second or subsequent offense – 2 points
All other moving traffic violations which are not speed limit violations – 3 points
11. Except for a driver under 21 years old, convicted of DUI with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams or more, upon a first conviction, the violator’s license shall be suspended for six months from the date of conviction.
Violators under 21 years old convicted of DUI with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams or more, or violators under 21 years old with their second or subsequent suspension or conviction, shall have their license suspended for a minimum of twelve months. If the suspension was for DUI, then the driver must complete DUI school before applying for license reinstatement, otherwise the driver must complete a defensive driving program.
Any driver under age 18, who accumulates four or more points on his driving record within a twelve month period, shall have his or her driver’s license suspended for six months for the first suspension, and twelve months for any subsequent suspension.
12. Intermediate drivers license for teen drivers and limitations on driving privileges
Prior to 1997, a fifteen year old could apply for an instructional permit which was valid for one year. To receive the permit the applicant had to pass all tests for a regular Class C license except for the driving test. At age sixteen, the applicant could then apply for a Class C license.
A fifteen year old can still apply for an instruction permit if he passes all tests for a Class C drivers license except for the driving test. The new instruction/learner’s permit is valid for two years.
Anyone who is sixteen but less than eighteen may apply for a Class D drivers license (intermediate license) if he has had an instruction permit for a period of twelve (12) months without any suspensions of the permit. If an applicant is at least sixteen years of age but less than eighteen years of age and meets this criteria, then he may receive a Class D driver’s license provided he passes the road driving test for a Class C vehicle.
The holder of a Class D driver’s license can operate a Class C vehicle under the following conditions:
1. No driving between Midnight and 6:00 a.m., no exceptions such employment, school, etc.,
2. No driving with any passenger in the car who is not an immediate family member for the first 6 months following license issuance; thereafter the Class D driver cannot drive on the public roads with more than three other passengers in the vehicle less than 21 years of age, who are not members of the driver’s immediate family. A more comprehensive on-the-road driving test must be taken and passed. Persons under eighteen years of age who are licensed in another jurisdiction and who drive in Georgia must comply with the limitation imposed on Class D license holders. Also, persons who are licensed in another jurisdiction, who apply for a license in Georgia, do not have to take any tests if they are eighteen years of age or older. Otherwise, new residents must take the tests required for a Class D license.
Furthermore, anyone who is at least eighteen years of age may apply for a Class C driver’s license. To be eligible for the Class C license, the applicant must have been issued a Class D license, and the Class D license could not have been suspended for a period of twelve (12) consecutive months prior to making application for the license. An applicant who is eighteen years of age or older and who has never had a Class D license, may apply for a Class C license provided that he meets the requirements for the license including passing all required tests.
3. Any driver who applies for an initial Class D license must have completed:
An approved driver education course and a cumulative total of at least 20 hours of supervised driving of which at least six must be at night; or
4. A cumulative total of at least 40 hours of supervised driving of which at least six hours must be at night. Supervised driving may be provided by any licensed Class C driver who is at least 21 years of age with a sworn affidavit from parents/legal guardians certifying such instruction.
13. No school equals no drivers license for persons under eighteen years of age.
No instruction permit nor any driver’s license may be issued to a person who is younger than 18 years of age unless at the time he applies for the instruction permit or driver’s license:
1. He presents acceptable proof that he has received a high school diploma, a GED diploma, a special diploma ,or a certificate of high school completion,
2. He presents proof that he has parental or guardian permission to withdraw from school,
3. or, the records of the department indicate that said applicant:
- a. Is enrolled in and not under suspension from a public or private school and satisfies relevant attendance requirements as set forth below, or
- b. Is enrolled in a home education program which satisfies the requirements of state law.
The Department of Public Safety shall notify any minor driver who has been issued an instruction permit or drivers license that his permit or license is suspended subject to review if the Department’s records indicate that such minor:
4. Has dropped out without graduating and has remained out for ten consecutive school days;
5. Has more than ten consecutive school days of unexcused absences in any semester or combination of two consecutive quarters; or
6. Has been suspended from school for:
- a. Threatening, striking, or causing bodily harm to a teacher or other school personnel;
- b. Possession or sale of drugs or alcohol on school property; or
- c. Possession or use of a weapon on school property. An archeological or cultural exhibit brought to school associated with a project is not considered a “weapon” .
The suspension shall be until the minor’s eighteenth (18) birthday. Regardless of when the minor turns eighteen (18) years of age or when he resumes regular studies, the license or permit is suspended for a minimum of ninety (90) days.