Georgia on the List of Strictest States for DUI Offenses


If you are driving in the state of Georgia you should think twice before getting behind the wheel after having a few drinks.

According to a recent study by the, a personal finance website, the state of Georgia is number two for having the strictest DUI laws in the nation.

A test to determine the most strictest and lenient states for DUI’s, uses a point system of 5 key metrics for criminal penalties and any preventative measures. To avoid unreliable subjectivity, it does not look at Judges’ discretion to suspend or reduce a sentence.

The blood alcohol legal limit is 0.08 in all 50 states. The department of motor vehicles for Georgia, set up penalties of 10 days in jail, a $300 to $1,000 fine, and license suspension for up to a year and 40 hours of community service for first time offenders. However, judges can reduce or waive a sentence at their will, but it is unknown how often this occurs.

“We’re pleased to hear that we are the second most strict state in the country as far as DUI laws go,” said spokesman for the Dade County, Ga., Sheriff’s Office, Chad Payne.

In Dade, Payne estimates that about 30 percent of car crashes are cause by drivers under the influence, he says his department alone has an average pf three DUI arrests a week. Yet, he doesn’t think DUI offenses happen more frequently in Dade County than somewhere else.

Gary Sisk, the Catoosa County Sheriff agreed with the estimates given by Payne, stating that drug offenses are becoming more frequent than DUI offenses.

“It goes hand in hand with the drug epidemic, the opioid abuse and things like that,” said Sisk. “People are driving under the influence of narcotics. It could be a mixture; sometimes it’s alcohol and drugs, and sometimes it’s just alcohol, but I think we’ve definitely seen an uptick in it being prescription medications.”

According to Payne, more DUI arrests happen during the summer time instead of the winter because people are “doing things outside as opposed to being stuck inside,” and at night is when most arrests happen.

“If bars in Chattanooga close around 2 in the morning, people are going home late at night around 2 or 3,” said Payne.

The Georgia Sheriffs’ Association program for Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety, or CHAMPS are used by Dade County to prevent substance abuse early.

“It starts with fifth-graders,” said Payne. “We try to get them early. We start teaching them about DUIs and stuff like that early on, trying to prevent it.”

CHAMPS covers drugs, alcohol abuse, gun, and hunter safety, the program is very similar to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, or DARE.

Payne said sobriety checkpoints are used as a preventative measure, they are usually random and not designated by the holidays.

Catoosa, according to Sisk only performs checkpoints to check for license or seatbelt violations, however, if someone appears to be under the influence, “that would be a secondary issue that we would have to deal with.”

During the holidays Sisk stated he believes people are more careful and considerate.

“There are a lot more PSAs [public service announcements] nationally, especially coming up on New Year’s or some of your bigger holidays like that,” according to Sisk. “We always try to put announcements out as well. Find a designated driver, or if you’re going somewhere, go there and stay. And don’t drink and drive.”

Georgia is the second- strictest state for DUI crimes, Sisk believes it’s a good thing for the state.

“We already have enough distractions in the car, we definitely don’t need to add slowed response times to all of that,” he said. “There are too many stories of intoxicated people having wrecks, but the other person suffered the most injuries and/or death and the person who was intoxicated didn’t.”

Payne agreed with Sisk’s comments.

“I’ve arrested a whole lot of DUIs, and being second-strictest in the country, to me, doesn’t seem like a bad thing,” Payne said. “Everybody makes mistakes, but I don’t think our punishments for DUIs is more severe or too severe.”

In addition, he mentioned Dade County Sheriff Ray Cross said, “If that information gets out, and it stops one person from drinking and driving and that saves a life, then that’s great for us.”

Payne, has seen the outcome of drunk drivers who “nearly kill a whole family of innocent people,” in his experience as an emergency medical responder.

“DUI is not a victimless thing. It’s people getting hurt, it’s putting everybody else’s life in danger on the road,” stated Payne.


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