Ga. DUI laws expand driving permits
by Erin Dentmon
edentmon@cherokeetribune.com
January 04, 2013 12:10 AM | 2731 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For Cherokee County drivers, along with those across the state, Georgia law has changed effective Jan. 1 regarding limited licenses for those convicted of driving under the influence.

For first-time DUI offenders serving out a suspension, limited permits are granted in cases of extreme hardship, meaning the person would not reasonably be able to obtain other transportation.

Under the new law, drivers convicted of a second DUI in five years will be eligible to receive limited-use permits sooner, pending the completion of state requirements.

These limited permits can be issued by judges during the first 120 days of a first-time offender’s license suspension, Cherokee County State Court Judge Alan Jordan said.

Any person whose license has been suspended for a second DUI violation within five years will be able to apply for a limited-use permit after 120 days instead of the 12-month waiting period previously outlined in the law.

As a result of Senate Bill 236, signed by Gov. Nathan Deal in April 2012, first-time DUI offenders with limited driving permits have permission to drive in a few additional circumstances. These permits can now be used for attending court, reporting to a probation office, performing community service or to provide limited transportation to immediate family members without driver’s licenses.

Limited permits can be used for:

* Going to a place of employment;

* Receiving scheduled medical care or obtaining prescription medications;

* Attending school;

* Attending alcohol or drug abuse support meetings;

* Attending court-ordered courses;

* Attending court, reporting to a probation office or officer or performing community service; or

* Transporting an immediate family member without a driver’s license to work, school or to seek medical care or prescription medication.

To receive a limited permit, a person must have completed an alcohol/drug use risk reduction program and clinical evaluation and have enrolled in an approved substance-abuse treatment program or a drug court.

“The main condition is an ignition interlock, which is a breathalyzer,” Jordan said.

Any second-time offender granted a limited permit must have an interlock installed in his vehicle. Through a breath test, this device checks a driver’s blood alcohol content before starting the car and during driving.

“If it detects alcohol, the car won’t start,” Jordan said.

A 120-day hard suspension of no driving is mandatory before a second-time offender can be granted a permit.

Drivers issued limited permits with interlock ignition devices will be permitted to attend work, school, meetings of treatment organizations and monthly monitoring visits with the interlock device service provider.

Under the changes to the law, interlock devices must be maintained for at least eight months, a longer time period than the previously required six months.

Habitual violators can be issued a probationary license no less than two years from the date of the person’s conviction that resulted in habitual violator status.
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