Sandy Springs DUI: I have a prior DUI

Question: I was in Atlanta at a whiskey tasting and when I left I got stopped in Sandy Springs and the cop gave me a DUI. It was a private Scotch whiskey tasting sponsored by a big Wall Street firm because they’re trying to get business here in Atlanta. I just had a few tastes and then I drove home and I got stopped on Georgia 400 and I received a DUI.

I haven’t had a DUI in like 25 years, when I was in college in Athens, GA. I was studying at University of Georgia at the time, just before I transferred to Georgia State University to study a different major.

I’m worried that my punishments will increase if they find my first DUI. That DUI was about 25 years ago and I don’t know if they’ll find it or even care about it. But I am concerned because my wife had a DUI in nursing school 9 years ago and when she got a DUI in Forsyth County 3 years ago they kind of made a big deal about that DUI from 9 years ago.

I really didn’t feel drunk because I was just sipping the whiskeys that were brought out. They had good stuff like Macallan, Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Karuizawa. I mean these are top flight whiskeys and expensive so I just wanted a taste of each.

The Sandy Springs cop stopped me for speeding and he asked me to do these tests and I did all of them. I thought I did fine but the cop arrested me and I took the breath test for DUI at the jail. On that test I got a .213. I know it’s high.

Anyway since I was just sipping I don’t think I’d get drunk. But my question has to do with my prior DUI from years ago. I need to know how it’s going to impact this DUI. I don’t want to lose my job.

S.K. in Sandy Springs, Georgia

Answer: Although Georgia law has a “formal look-back period” of 10 years, even DUI convictions from longer than 10 years ago can be used by prosecutors and judges to enhance a sentence for a recent DUI.

Certainly, the older a prior DUI, the better for the defendant. So, for example, a 10 year old DUI is better than a 5 year old DUI, and a 20 year old DUI is better than a 10 year old DUI. Common sense tells you that an older DUI is “better” for a defendant than a newer DUI.

Like so many things in law, however, much discretion lies with the judge and the prosecutor. Some judges and prosecutors may feel that a 9 year old prior DUI, for example, is something that is very important, something that should increase punishments for a recent DUI. While other judges and prosecutors may feel that it is not necessarily a big deal.

In your case, we don’t think that a 25 year old drunk driving charge should materially impact your sentence for a recent DUI.

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