Being pulled over for a suspected DUI can be a stressful experience. Georgia imposes harsh penalties, including fines, license suspension, and jail time. A DUI conviction can also significantly impact your personal life, especially when it comes to your family and job.
Contact Moffitt Law, LLC if you face a DUI charge in Columbus, Georgia. Our DUI defense lawyers are prepared to evaluate the facts of your case and develop the best strategy to defend your rights – and that includes potentially lessening your charge.
In Columbus, Georgia, it’s possible to have your DUI reduced to reckless driving.
But is it always the right thing to do? Let’s explore the differences between the two charges and the pros and cons of reducing a DUI to reckless driving.
What Are the Differences Between DUI and Reckless Driving Charges?
DUI Charges in Georgia
Regardless of your blood alcohol concentration, you can be charged with a DUI if the arresting officer believes you are impaired to the point of being a less-safe driver. You can also be charged with a DUI per se if your BAC is 0.08% or more three hours after the arrest.
The specific criminal penalties you face if charged with a DUI depend on multiple factors. A first-offense DUI is a misdemeanor, and the judge can sentence you to 12 months in county jail, most of which you’ll probably spend on probation. You may have to serve at least 24 months in prison if your BAC exceeds 0.08% three hours after the arrest.
Fines for a DUI conviction can range from $300 to $1000, not including the surcharges. You must also participate in a clinical evaluation for alcohol or drug dependency and complete 40 hours of community services.
A DUI conviction will also impact your driving license. Drivers over 21 convicted of a non-drug-related DUI will have their licenses suspended for 12 months. After 120 days, you can request early license reinstatement by submitting your certificate of completion of a state-approved Risk Reduction Program and a $210 fee. Depending on your driving history, you might be eligible for a limited license that allows you to drive to and from work, school, and other permitted places.
Reckless Driving Charges in Georgia
Georgia defines reckless driving as when someone drives a vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of other people or property. It is a misdemeanor and can attract a fine of up to $1000.
Other penalties for reckless driving include 12 months in county jail, completion of a drug and alcohol evaluation, possibly community service, and any other conditions the judge may impose. Four points will be deducted, and your license will be suspended if you’re under 21.
Advantages of Pleading Down a DUI to Reckless Driving
Depending on the specifics of your case, pleading down to reckless driving means eliminating the stain of a DUI on your criminal record. The prosecutor will dismiss the DUI charges, reducing the risk of jail time.
Avoiding a jury trial is the most significant benefit of pleading down to reckless driving. Jury trials are risky, and defendants have little control over whether they’ll be found guilty, which comes with significant penalties.
A reckless driving conviction is less likely to result in the suspension of your driving license. However, the DDS may still suspend your license if the resulting four points cause you to have 15 or more points on your MVR.
There are mandatory minimum punishments the judge has to impose if you’re convicted of a DUI. In contrast, there are no minimum penalties for reckless driving convictions. A reckless driving conviction impacts your insurance premiums less than a DUI conviction. Some insurance companies will drop a customer for a DUI conviction, especially in aggravating circumstances.
Disadvantages of Reducing a DUI to Reckless Driving
Defendants who plead guilty to reckless driving still have to face the consequences. However, those who decide to go to trial and get a “not guilty” verdict go home with a clean record. They don’t have to face any legal consequences on their driving license. Moreover, pleading guilty to reckless driving doesn’t erase your DUI arrest. Your criminal history will still record the arrest and reckless driving conviction. This can limit your access to job opportunities.
Contact Our Columbus, Georgia DUI Attorneys for Expert Representation
You need immediate legal representation if you have been arrested for a DUI. An experienced DUI attorney in Columbus, GA, can identify any legal or factual issues that allow a warrant reducing a DUI to reckless driving.
Moffitt Law will walk you through the upsides and downsides to help you make the best decision for yourself. Contact us today to discuss your case.