Habitual Violator in Georgia
What is an Habitual Violator?
Most people think that Habitual Violator is a crime. In reality, Habitual Violator, also called HV, is a status. If you have the status of being an habitual violator, that means you are capable of committing certain offenses others cannot commit.
If you commit any of these offenses, it is technically called Violation of the Georgia Driver's License Act (VGDLA). The shorthand for VGDLA is 'habitual violator' or HV. I'll use the shorthand in this section
How Do You Become an Habitual Violator?
You can attain the lofty status of habitual violator by committing three serious driving offenses within a five year period. These serious driving offenses include DUI and any offense listed here. The five year period is calculated from the date of the offenses, not the date of conviction.
How Can You be Charged With HV?
Remember, if you are an Habitual Violator, you cannot 'operate' a motor vehicle unless you have either an ignition interlock permit or a probationary driver's license. Now this is tricky. Most people think that 'operate' means 'drive'. Driving is operating but operating is not necessarily driving. For example, the Georgia Appellate Courts have held that someone sitting under the wheel of a car with its engine running and lights on is operating the vehicle.
The Penalty for HV - No Probationary License
First of all, if you are an HV because of three DUIs, and if you get another DUI while being HV, your vehicle will be forfeited to the state.
If you are an HV because of three DUI convictions, an HV conviction is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $1000.00. Otherwise, it is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a minimum fine of $750.00.
The Penalty for HV - With Probationary License
The penalty is different once you have a probationary license (see How Can I Get My Driver's License Reinstated below). If you are merely 'operating' outside the conditions of your probationary license, you will be charged with a misdemeanor.
However, if you have a probationary license and are charged with a serious driving offense or a DUI, you could face double problems. Not only could you be convicted of the new traffic offense, you also will be charged with felony HV for which you could receive up to 5 years in prison and a $1000.00 fine.
What happens to your probationary license if you are convicted of a serious driving offense or DUI? Your probationary license is revoked and you cannot have your license reinstated either until the end of the original 5 year revocation or two years from the date of the conviction, whichever is greater.
If the 5 year suspension is up but you still have not had your license properly reinstated, you will be guilty of misdemeanor HV.
How Can I Get My Driver's License Reinstated?
HV revocation works this way. For two years you cannot drive - period. If the revocation is for three DUI offenses, you will have to go to DUI School and Alcohol/Drug Counseling. Again, if the HV status is because of three DUI conviction, at the end of the two years, you have an ignition interlock device placed on your car. You then go to the local Department of Driver Services. Take with you the certificates of completion for the DUI School and Alcohol Counseling. Also take the contract for the ignition interlock device. You will then be issued an ignition interlock limited permit.
The ignition interlock limited permit is good for one year. Once one year term is over you can get a probationary license for the remaining two. After that you can pay a reinstatement fee and have your regular license reinstated.
If the HV status is for offenses other than three DUI conviction, you can forget about the alcohol counseling and the ignition interlock device. You can get a probationary license after two years that will be good for three years.
Now, this is important. At the time of conviction for HV, you either will have to make sure your license is in possession of the DMVS or you will have to file a Lost License Affidavit. The reason is this: If the DMVS doesn't have either your license or the lost license affidavit, you will not receive any credit for the time your license is revoked. For example, you could attempt to apply for the ignition interlock permit after two years only to find out you had to wait two more years because you didn't turn in your license or the affidavit.
No Probationary License If You Were DUI and Caused A Death
If you were charge with felony homicide by vehicle because of a DUI, you will not be entitled to a probationary license. However, considering that such a conviction will probable result in a substantial prison term, the lack of a probationary license will be the least of your worries.
OCGA § 40-5-58
Detailed Georgia DUI Information
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