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Benefit from the Experience of Attorneys Bill and Valerie Sherman Former Assistant Attorney General, Assistant County Attorneys and Magistrate Judge

DUI: My community service

Question: I need to get some community service done for this DUI charge I caught about a week ago. It's not my first DUI so I want to do some community service before going to court. I'd like to do the community service near my house in Cumming, Georgia.

My cousin runs a business that tutors kids in math. I've always been pretty good in math and I want to find out if I can tutor the children and get credit for community service. That way I can work the community service into my schedule. I work in Atlanta and I live in Sandy Springs.

I got the DUI in Sandy Springs when I got into a small accident with another car. It was really a fender bender, no one was hurt and the damage to the cars was minimal. The cop could tell I'd been drinking and he arrested me for drunk driving.

When I did community service for my other DUI, which was in Florida, I did some work for a school. So now I want to know if I can tutor kids in math.

K.J. in Sandy Springs, GA

Answer: We get a lot of questions about where to perform community service for DUI charges. Community service must be performed at a non-profit. That non-profit can be involved in many areas. We have had clients donate their time to homeless shelters, animal shelters, cultural organizations (like museums, history centers and performing arts venues) and to groups trying to eradicate disease and illness. Basically, any not-for-profit will do.

However, your cousin's tutoring business does not sound like a non-profit. If it's not a 501(c)(3), then it is not a lawful charitable organization, and you cannot do community service there. You need to determine, before you start volunteering, that the organization you want to help is a legitimate non-profit. And be aware that in Georgia many courts will not allow community service to be done at schools or religious institutions.

In the Sandy Springs Municipal Court as well as in some other courts, the judge will often (but not always) require that community service be done for a town agency or department. But if you do the community service prior to going to court, even if it is not done at a city agency, it may be deemed valid anyway. Most courts, however, will not require community service to be done at a city agency or department. The final decision whether to accept or deny community service is usually left to the probation officer assigned to the case.

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