Georgia’s drunk driving laws are tough on everyone, and even tougher on drivers under the age of 21. As an underage driver, penalties can be quite severe.

A driver 21 or over is not deemed guilty of drunk driving unless his or her blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 grams or more. If you are under 21, however, you violate the law if you have 0.02 grams or more blood alcohol concentration within 3 hours of driving.

Drivers over 21 may have the option of pleading nolo contendere, or accepting penalties without admitting guilt, to a DUI charge. Although nolo pleas under Georgia’s new DUI laws no longer afford the benefit of preventing license revocation, such a plea can have a beneficial effect on civil liability. However, drivers under 21 do not have such an option. They must either admit guilt, or fight the charge in court.

Those who are arrested while under 21, and convicted, automatically have their driver’s license suspended. If under the age of 16, then revocation will be until the age of 17 for a first offense, until 18 for the second offense. If over 16, the suspension period is 12 months, unless it is a first offense and blood alcohol concentration was under 0.08 grams. Worse, during the suspension period, there is no possibility of obtaining any restricted driving permit.

After the suspension period, the youthful offender must go through the entire process of obtaining a license again. Reinstatement is not automatic. Further, there is a fee of $200.00 (if paid by mail, or $210.00 if paid in person) for having one’s license restored.

For a first-time underage offender, 24 hours of imprisonment is mandatory unless blood alcohol concentration was under 0.08 grams. This means that for underage drivers, there is mandatory jail time for less alcohol than would be required for a driver over the age of 21.

Georgia’s drunk driving laws are tough on drivers. Therefore, calling a qualified DUI lawyer can make a difference in the results of your case.