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DUI Insurance Laws in Georgia

Here's what you need to know...
  • The history of alcohol in Georgia played a role in the establishment of their laws regarding DUIs
  • Penalties are severe for driving under the influence in Georgia
  • Georgia requires SR-22 insurance for drivers convicted of a DUI

Georgia’s laws take the effects of alcohol very seriously, and if you’re caught drinking and driving, it will have a significant effect on your car insurance rates.

Georgia used to be one of only three states in the nation to ban the sale of beer, wine, and distilled spirits in retail stores on Sundays. A few years ago, the state decided to vote county by county to keep that law or to allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays in their particular county.

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Georgia’s Alcohol History

AdobeStock_101522098-1600x1600Alcohol has played an enormous role in Georgia’s economic and cultural life since the late 18th century when they first obtained statehood as the last of the original thirteen colonies.

Distilled liquor was a convenient way for farmers to preserve crops of peaches, apples, and corn that couldn’t be preserved in other ways. Then they could obtain economic benefit even if they couldn’t sell the fresh produce.

During Georgia’s secession from the Union in Civil War times, Congress created the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to collect taxes on luxury items like tobacco and alcohol. The fiercely independent Georgia farmers refused to pay.

Refusal to pay taxes was actually their illegal act, not the distillation and sale of the alcohol itself. But their opposition to paying taxes was enough to make their operations illegal.

In time, they began to operate their stills at night to avoid detection by IRS agents, and this gave them the nickname of “moonshiners.”

As the temperance movement began to gain momentum in the 1880s, moonshiners found themselves on a collision course with its supporters – evangelicals, journalists, and women for the most part – who began painting a portrait of moonshiners as lowlife degenerates.

During the Great Depression in the 1930s, running moonshine through the rolling foothills of Dawson County and the Northeast Georgia Mountains was a way of life for many people.

Atlanta became a major distribution center for illegal spirits. As a result, Georgia’s alcohol laws are restrictive and enforcement, particularly the ban on driving while intoxicated, is vigorously pursued.

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Georgia DUI Requirements

In the state of Georgia, it is illegal for:

  • Any driver with a BAC of 0.08 percent and above to operate a motor vehicle
  • Any commercial vehicle operator to drive with a BAC of 0.04 percent or above
  • Anyone under the age of 21 to drive with a BAC of 0.02 percent or above

Of course in Georgia, as in all 50 states, the legal drinking age is 21. Georgia has no tolerance whatsoever for underage drivers who drink and will impose a 12-month license suspension on the first offense upon any driver 21 or younger whose BAC measure .02 grams or higher.

It’s possible to be charged with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in Georgia even with a BAC of less than 0.08 percent if you are observed driving by an officer who determines that you are impaired. These are known as per se DUIs.

Although the term DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) is still used in Georgia, increasingly the preferred term is DUI because Georgia recognizes that alcohol is not the only substance that can impair safe driving.

It is illegal to drive in Georgia when you’ve been using any illegal drugs, and you can be arrested for impaired driving if you’ve been using prescription or even some over the counter medications.

Of course, if an officer pulls you over in Georgia and asks you to submit to a chemical test of your breath, blood or urine, you can always refuse. But if you do, you risk losing your license for a full year.

Georgia DUI Insurance Laws

AdobeStock_1181532-1600x1600 (2)In 1997, Governor Miller signed a comprehensive package of these statutes into law, aggregated as the Teenage and Adult Driver Responsibility Act.

The Official Code of Georgia (OCG) contains all the statutes pertaining to DUIs with Georgia state car insurance, for example:

  • O.C.G.A. 40-6-391 defines driving under the influence and imposes penalties for first-time, second-time and subsequent offenses
  • O.C.G. 40-6-391 schedules the assessment of “points” against drivers for various driving offenses including DUIs that affect insurance premiums.
  • O.C.G.A 40-6-391 mandates jail time for any driver convicted of a DUI
  • O.C.G.A 40-6-391 requires mandatory substance abuse rehabilitation for any second time DUI offender.
  • O.C.G.A 40-6-391 allows for zero tolerance for any driver under the age of 21 who uses alcohol, as determined by a BAC of 0.02 grams or more.
  • O.C.G.A. 40-2-136 requires mandatory driver’s license suspension and license tag seizure for convicted DUI offenders.
  • O.C.G.A 40-6-253 prohibits open containers of alcohol inside a car, whether carried by drivers or passengers

Georgia DUI Penalties

policeman arresting DUI suspect

The penalty for a driver convicted of a DUI for the first time in the state of Georgia includes:

  • A fine of between $300 and $1,000
  • A possible jail sentence of anywhere between 10 days to 12 months
  • Implementation of an SR-22 vehicle liability insurance document in order for driving privileges to be reinstated

The penalty for a driver convicted of a DUI for the second time in the state of Georgia includes:

  • A fine of between $600 and $1,000
  • A possible jail sentence of anywhere between 90 days to 12 months
  • The installation of an ignition interlock device in all motor vehicles owned or operated by the offender for at least six months
  • Implementation of an SR-22 vehicle liability insurance document in order for driving privileges to be reinstated

A third time DUI offender in the state of Georgia is a habitual offender, guilty of a high and aggravated misdemeanor carrying penalties that include:

  • A fine of between $1,000 and $5,000
  • Mandatory jail time of at least 15 days
  • The installation of an ignition interlock device in all motor vehicles owned or operated by the offender for at least six months
  • Implementation of an SR-22 vehicle liability insurance document in order for driving privileges to be reinstated

If a fourth DUI offense occurs within ten years of a previous DUI offense, the offender is declared a habitual offender and the offense deemed a felony, carrying the following penalties:

  • A fine of between $1,000 and $5,000
  • A jail sentence of anywhere between one to five years, at least 90 days of which must be served despite any judge’s move to suspend, stay or probate
  • Mandatory probation of five years less time served
  • Mandatory suspension of driver’s license for five years
  • The installation of an ignition interlock device in all motor vehicles owned or operated by the offender for at least six months
  • Sixty hours of community service
  • Clinical evaluation and possible treatment at a substance abuse program
  • Implementation of an SR-22 vehicle liability insurance document in order for driving privileges to be reinstated

Georgia DUI Statistics

Georgia is serious about cracking down on DUIs: Every year, approximately 200,000 DUI-related arrests are made.

In 2011, according to a fatality analysis from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia, there were 277 fatalities in accidents with alcohol as a factor.

Georgia DUI Insurance Options

Close up of a man typing at the keyboard

Georgia requires SR-22 auto insurance for DUI offenders. This is a special type of high-risk liability insurance with a very specific set of reporting requirements.

The insurance company from which you purchase an SR-22 policy must inform the state if your premium payments are late, if there’s a coverage lapse, or if you change providers.

If Georgia’s Department of Driver Services receives a report from the company that provides you SR-22 insurance for any reason, the state will immediately suspend your license — and the three-year period during which you must provide SR-22 proof of insurance will begin again.

As with any other type of insurance, car insurance companies offer different rates for coverage. You can expect all SR-22 coverage to be more expensive than other types of automobile insurance.

Now that you know about the laws for DUI insurance, it is time to compare and price shop with our FREE quote comparison tool, and get the policy that’s right for you.

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