My son recently pleaded, at the behest of his lawyer, guilty to a DUI charge and waived a trial by jury. This was his first offense and he is under 21. 20 at the time of the incident. He submitted to the FST at the time of the incident and recorded a blood alcohol level of .22. He initially was stopped by the arresting officer because he lost control of his vehicle and did a 360 before coming to a stop against a guard rail, no one was injured. Thats the backgroud to the story - now onto the question. After his plea was accepted by the judge and prosecutor he was issued his sentence. He was placed on probation for 1 year and lost his license for that same period. He has to perform 40 hours of community service and attend DUI school. All this is acceptable, I knew he would get that before the trial. What we were not prepared for is the 120 days of house arrest he received. The lawyer said that the prosecutor was looking for minimum 90 days of incarceration thats why he told us to accept the plea. Is this a customary sentence. I feel it is way out of bounds for his offense. If it is abnormally severe then do I have any legal recorse.
2 Answers from Attorneys
Re: House Arrest
In Georgia, the judge retains jurisdiction in a misdemeanor case for the full sentence. He can, but is not required to, modify the sentence. I do not feel the sentence was harsh. Your son was very seriously intoxicated. It could be an isolated event, but most people, not used to drinking, would not be able to function at that level of intoxication. I believe the judge was trying to get his attention, and possibly insure that he is sober for at least 120 days.
You did not mention alcohol evaluation and treatment. If that has not been done, it should be.
I wish you and your son luck. I hope he isn't on his way to addiction.
Re: House Arrest
Let me start by stating that every case is different. The judge makes the ultimate decision regarding the penalty. A DUI is a misdemeanor offense and can carry a penalty that includes among other things a fine of up to $1,000.00 plus surcharges, community service and imprisonment for up to twelve months. It certainly appears that the penalty in this case was harsh. I assume that the reason that the judge imposed such a penalty was that he believed that the imposition of the same would cause your son not to drink and drive again in the future. With respect to an appeal, your son does have the right to appeal the decision by the judge. However this can be costly and time consuming and from a practical standpoint it may have no effect on the ultimate outcome. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me directly.