Are you hoping to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special someone? Are you skipping Valentine’s Day but looking forward to a night out on the town with some friends – followed next month by a lot of green beer on St. Patrick’s Day? These two holidays often interject a little light and joy in life just when winter seems to be dragging its heels the hardest.

Just don’t let your joyful celebration turn into a nightmare of epic proportions due to a charge of driving under the influence (DUI). To avoid problems, it’s important to understand:

  • You can be charged with a DUI if you are given a breath or blood test that shows your blood alcohol content is 0.08% or higher. This is called a DUI “per se,” meaning that you are legally drunk even if you appear sober.
  • You can also be charged with a DUI based on the officer’s observations of your behavior and driving. For example, if you’re pulled over because you’re driving too slowly and drifting out of your lane and the officer determines your speech is slurred, you would likely be hit with a DUI.

The penalties for a DUI are serious. In Georgia, your first offense can get you up to a year in jail, a $1,000 fine, a community service obligation, a year-long license suspension and other penalties.

So what can you do to avoid a problem? The simple answer, of course, is “Don’t drive.” If you plan to be drinking, it’s far smarter to plan to spend the night where you are (if you can) or take an Uber, Lyft or cab where you want to go and home again. Having a designated driver or just calling a friend can also keep you out of trouble.

If you make a mistake and end up facing a DUI charge, don’t make the additional mistake of trying to handle the issue on your own. An experienced defense attorney can help protect your interests.