What about DUI's from other states?

Question: I live in Atlanta and was arrested for DUI in Forsyth County over the weekend. I was with some friends from college and we had a little too much to drink. I was driving and the friends were asleep in the car. The Forsyth deputy said I was speeding. He said I was about 25 miles per hour over the limit.

We drank a few shots of gin, vodka and some rye. We washed them down with some beers.

I took all the tests he wanted me to take and I even took a breath test and a urine test because he must have thought I was on drugs. I had a drug problem some years ago but I haven't touched cocaine or meth in at least 3 years. I still smoke pot. The breath test came back as double the limit.

My question has to do with another DUI that I got in Florida and one in Alabama. They are both over 5 years old. I need to know if DUI's from other states count in Georgia. And I need to know if you think they will find the old DUI's.

If they find the other drunk driving charges, will Forsyth use them against me?

C.G. in Atlanta

Answer: If prior DUI convictions are found, even from other states, they can certainly be utilized for sentencing purposes. They can be used to increase punishments for DUI just as convictions in Georgia may used. We are unclear if you were actually convicted of DUI in Florida and Alabama, or were they simply DUI charges that were later dropped or reduced?

Whether old charges, particularly those from other states, are actually found is another question. In our experience, sometimes they are found and other times they are not. I wouldn't count on the charges not being found. You must prepare your DUI defense anticipating that the solicitors in Forsyth will have access to your entire criminal history.

Just so you are fully aware, the so-called "look back period" in Georgia is 10 years, not 5 years. So any DUI within the 10 year period can be used to increase punishments. But be aware that some prosecutors, particularly in Forsyth, will utilize DUI's that are older than 10 years to enhance the conditions of your sentence. We have seen DUI charges that are 12, 15 18 or even 20 years old being used to extract higher punishments. And that is fully within the discretion of the prosecutor and judge.

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