DUI vs DWI in Georgia: Differences and Penalties


DUI and DWI are serious offenses involving driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and both can drastically alter your life. While they may appear synonymous, their definitions can differ, depending on the state laws. 

In Georgia, although the penalties for DUI and DWI are similar, there are some differences to understand, but it is important to remember that there are no DWI classifications in Georgia, as they fall under DUI classification.


DUI, or “Driving Under the Influence,” pertains to operating a motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. It’s important to note that DUI charges aren’t restricted to alcohol impairment in the state of Georgia. They also encompass situations where you’re under the influence of drugs that hinder safe driving, regardless of the drug’s legality. This includes driving while impaired due to the effects of prescription medication.

Consequently, being charged with a DUI in some states – like Georgia – doesn’t necessarily mean the substance involved is illegal. In several states, such instances are classified under the term “Driving While Intoxicated” (DWI) or “Driving While Impaired” (DWI).

How Do DUI and DWI Differ?

The main difference is how different states use these terms. Some states use DUI to mean driving after drinking alcohol and DWI for driving after taking drugs, while other states might use them interchangeably.

Under Georgia law, a DUI is defined as driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances. This means that it is illegal to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of any alcohol, drug, or controlled substance.

Legal BAC limit (percent) Driver Category
0.08 Over 21 years old
0.04 Commercial Drivers
0.02 Under 21 years old

Legal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits for Various Driver Categories


It’s crucial to note that even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you can still be charged with a DUI or DWI if alcohol or drugs impair your driving. In Georgia, DUI convictions may result in fines up to $1,000, jail time up to 12 months, driver’s license suspension, increased insurance rates, and potential employment difficulties.

Number of Conviction Minimum Jail Time  Minimum Fine (USD) Community Service


License Suspension
First DUI 24 hours  300 40  Up to 12 months
Second DUI

(Within 10 years)

72 hours  600 240  18 months – 3 years
Third DUI
(Within 10 years)
15 days 1,000 Varies (Judge’s discretion) Up to 5 years

Penalties for DUI Convictions in Georgia

Higher Insurance Rates

After a DUI conviction, you are classified as a ‘high-risk driver’ by insurance companies. As a result, your insurance rates can increase significantly. On average, insurance rates rise by 80 percent. The exact amount of the increase depends on several factors, including your driving history, your age, and the insurance company’s policies. 

In some cases, your insurance company may even cancel your policy after a DUI or DWI conviction. In addition, you may be required to file an SR-22 form with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. This form, also known as a Certificate of Financial Responsibility, proves that you have the required minimum amount of liability coverage.

Employment Difficulties

  • Background checks reveal DUI convictions, affecting jobs requiring a clean driving record or responsibility.
  • Disclosed DUI convictions on job applications reduce chances of consideration.
  • DUI convictions can lead to disciplinary actions or license revocation in healthcare, education, law enforcement, or transportation fields.
  • Losing driving privileges limits job opportunities, especially driving-related roles.
  • DUI convictions raise doubts about judgment and responsibility.
  • Companies with strict policies may take disciplinary measures or terminate employment.
  • DUI convictions on criminal records impact future job searches and career advancement.


Facing a DUI charge in Georgia is a daunting experience, filled with complex legal proceedings and potential consequences. It’s crucial to remember that you’re not alone. At Hines Law Firm, we are committed to guiding you through this process, advocating for your rights, and seeking the best possible outcome for you. From helping you navigate increased insurance rates to representing you in court, we’re here to provide the support you need.

Reach out to us at 770-800-2000 or contact us for a free consultation. 

Let us be your trusted partner in this difficult journey!

Learn More  DUI defense lawyer

Free Evaluation

Top Rated Lawyers

Our highly experienced lawyers will contact you for a Free Legal Consultation.



Matthew C. Hines

Matthew C. Hines founded the Hines Law Firm in 2004. During this time he has earned a reputation for his dedication to his clients and his passion for justice. Mr. Hines has been fighting for the rights of his clients for nearly fifteen years and has extensive experience handling a wide range of personal injury matters, with a focus on helping every client recover the compensation they deserve. Learn More

 /    free consultation

Get A Free Initial Consultation

Reach out for your free consultation with Hines Law today, and let’s start addressing your legal needs together.