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New Georgia DUI Laws Take Effect Jan. 1

The new laws are intended to aid treatment and improve the quality of life for people arrested for DUI.

New DUI laws going into effect in the State of Georgia on Jan. 1, 2013, will include expanded permits for first-time offenders and so-called "two in five" offenders, with the aim of improving treatment of people who drive drunk.

Senate Bill 236, which was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal on April 16, modifies Article 3, Chapter 5 of Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) as well as Article 7 of Chapter 8 of Title 42. These articles reference punishment for drivers arrested for DUI and govern ignition interlock devices, which prevent offenders from driving while drunk.

Starting on Jan. 1, first-time offenders over 21 years of age or so-called "first in five years" offenders will be eligible for an expanded hardship permit that will allow them to attend court, report to their probation officer, and perform community service. 

Additionally, drivers on this limited permit will be able to transport immediate family members without licenses to work, school or to receive medical services.

Prior to Jan. 1, drivers on such permits could only drive to work, school, the doctor, support group meetings and DUI school.

Drivers who have been arrested for DUI twice in the previous five years will see slightly more freedom in their limited permits and the reduction of their "hard suspension" times.

Starting on Jan. 1, these offenders will automatically serve a 120 day hard suspension of their driving priviliges, followed by permission to get a ignition interlock limited permit provided the offender can show proof of the following:

1. That he or she has completed a DUI Alcohol or Drug Risk Reduction program;
2. That he or she has completed a clinical evaluation and enrolled in a substance abuse treatment program approved by the Department of Human Services or is enrolled in a drug court program;
3. That he or she has installed an ignition interlock device in any vehicle that he or she will be operating; and
4. That he or she obtains a certificate of eligibility for an ignition interlock limited driving permit or probationary license from the court that sentenced the person for the conviction that resulted in the suspension.

Drivers with this expanded permit will be restricted to driving to work, school, support meetings, and monthly meetings with the driver's ignition interlock service provider.

To avoid having to deal with these new laws altogether, AAA is providing a "Tipsy Tow" on New Years' Eve. Members and non-members can call AAA at 1-800-222-4357 between 6 p.m. Monday and 6 a.m. Tuesday for a free tow back home.

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