New Georgia DUI Laws in Effect

The New Year rang in with new DUI laws in Georgia. Effective Jan. 1, 2013, convicted DUI drivers are eligible to get limited-use permits sooner than before under the condition that they complete state requirements. Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill, Senate Bill 236, in April 2012. It states that anyone who has a suspended license because of a 2nd DUI conviction in 5 years may apply for a limited driving permit after serving 120 days of driving suspension and showing proof of enrollment in clinical treatment. Drivers must also obtain a certificate of eligibility for an ignition interlock device and prove that they have had one installed in their vehicle and in every vehicle they operate.

The support for the new law stems from the intention of getting help for repeat drunk drivers who may need treatment, and to allow them to still have transportation access to school, work, community service, and other obligations.

Under previous law, 2nd time offenders had to wait 1 full year before applying for a driving permit. Georgia’s state chapter of MADD released a statement, saying, “We are in support of the changes, but do not think they go far enough. We need to make sure that first time offenders are interlocked so they do not repeat offend.”

DUI Look-back Periods

Alabama has a 5 year “look back” period when convicting DUI cases. Previous drunk driving charges can only be considered if they have occurred in the past five years. For instance, a driver may have been convicted of drunk driving seven times in one year, say, 2007. They had a very bad year. Assuming they have somehow been released from prison or jail, that person can be caught drunk driving in 2013 and it will be treated as their first DUI.

Alabama is one of the most lenient states when concerning DUI look-back periods. Other states with a five-year back period include Colorado and Missouri. Look-back periods (also referred to as washout periods) vary by state, and often states will change their DUI laws. For instance, until 2008, Georgia had a five year look-back period. The law was amended in 2008 so now Georgia will review any DUI conviction on your record in the past ten years.

States with lifetime look-back periods include Kansas and Massachusetts. In Michigan, a third DUI will be charged as a felony, after the ten year look-back period was dropped in 2007 under a new law called Heidi’s Law. This is an example of how social pressure can change a state’s DUI laws.

Heidi Steiner was a northern Michigan high school senior who was killed by a drunk driver named Danny Buffman in 1991. Buffman served a prison term and was eventually released. He was arrested again for DUI in 2005, but was charged as if were his first DUI because more than 10 years had passed since his 1991 conviction. Even though his DUI (referred to as OWI in Michigan) record included manslaughter, his record could only be looked at from 1995-2005.

DUI Laws May Help Decline in Traffic Deaths in Virginia

The rate of traffic fatalities and severe injuries resulting from auto accidents is on the decline in Virginia, according to new State figures tracking fatalities from 2007 to 2010. Among the contributing factors to this decline is increased seat belt use, stricter licensing for younger drivers, and new DUI laws.

There were 1,026 traffic deaths in 2007, 821 in 2008, 756 in 2009, and 739 in 2010. Similarly, severe injuries fell from 19,796 to 11,664 from 2007 to 2010.

As of October 19, 2012, there have been 608 traffic-related deaths in Virginia.

Connie Sorrell is with the Virginia Department of Transportation and believes that the numbers are still too high. She believes that new initiatives with specific aims to reduce a secondary crash and the scene of a wreck would help reduce the numbers. To do so, representatives of local law enforcement agencies are training to clear crash scenes faster to avoid a secondary collision.

On July 1, 2012, Virginia enforced stricter DUI laws concerning ignition interlock devices. The new law states that it is mandatory for a driver convicted of any DUI or DWI, regardless of BAC, to use an interlock device for a minimum of six months. Virginia’s new DUI laws with stricter use of ignition interlock devices is a trend being seen across the country.