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Am I going to prison for a Roswell, GA, DUI charge?

Question: I got drunk on the stuff I used to drink in prison and I got a DUI in Roswell, Georgia. I got locked up for too many drunk driving arrests. I admit that I had a problem. I got 7 DUIs in 5 years a while ago and I got sent to prison. I went through rehab and I AA and I stopped drinking. But I fell off the wagon when I got together with some of my prison buddies and I got drunk and I caught myself a DUI.

I went to prison about 15 years ago, shortly after I graduated from Georgia Tech. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it happened and I own up to it. I never hurt anybody, I could always handle my drinking but I just had too many DUIs and I went to prison.

In prison I learned how to make “hooch.” I made alcohol from all sorts of things. And people said my stuff wasn’t half bad. It got the boys drunk and I guess that’s all they cared about. The guards would also drink it.

Last week we had a prison reunion with some of the guys. I hadn’t had a drink in years and I have been focusing on my career as a stock broker for the last decade. But I wanted to help the guys catch a good old prison buzz so I mixed up some of my hooch. I used a lot of sugar, bread and fruit to make the prison punch. Everybody said it was awesome and when I left the party to go home I got nailed for a DUI in Roswell.

Now I’m worried that I could go back to prison for this DUI. My last DUI was about 15 years ago. Will I have to go back?

P.J. in Roswell, GA

Answer: No, you will not have to return to prison on the facts you describe. The “look back” period in the state of Georgia is 10 years. If you get 4 DUIs in 10 years then that is a felony, and a felony can send you to prison. Your last DUI, however, was 15 years ago so you are not in danger of a felony charge; this charge would be a misdemeanor. Since it's a misdemeanor, it will be handled at the Roswell Municipal Court.

Although the “look back” period is 10 years, the prosecutor will most likely see that you have multiple DUI convictions in your past. The prosecutor can use those to enhance your punishments for this DUI charge, but it will not be so drastic as to send you back to prison.

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We’ve been a Magistrate Judge, an Assistant Attorney General and as a Senior Assistant County Attorney.

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