Amanda Davis, a well-known Atlanta area news anchor, was arrested recently for driving on a suspended or revoked license. The Cobb County Police Department (CCPD) arrested her at the Cumberland Mall. Since 1991, Davis has been arrested for three DUIs, the most recent being in June 2015.
According to Fox 5, CCPD pulled her over for expired tags. It was at that point that they discovered her license was suspended for prior DUIs.
Davis’ recent arrest brings up a few areas of Georgia DUI law worthy of discussion.
- Driving while license suspended or revoked is a criminal charge in-and-of itself (Georgia Code § 40-5-121).
- DUI penalties increase with each subsequent drunk driving charge within 10 years, after which point the record resets.
- Police have the liberty to pull someone over for one offense and arrest them for another, so long as they had reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop.
Driving While License Suspended or Revoked §40-5-121
According to the Georgia Code, any person driving a motor vehicle on a Georgia public highway while their license is suspended (or disqualified/revoked) is guilty of a misdemeanor upon first conviction. Penalties for this offense include:
- Two days to 12 months’ imprisonment
- $500 to $1,000 fine
Second or subsequent convictions within five years are considered aggravated misdemeanors, punishable by:
- Ten days to 12 months’ imprisonment
- $1,000 to $2,500 fine
This offense can be charged as a felony if a person is arrested for their fourth or subsequent offense within five years, the penalties for which can include imprisonment of one to five years, and a fine of $2,500 to $5,000.
Multiple DUI Offenses
For a second drunk driving conviction within ten years of the first, an individual can face penalties such as:
- 90 days to 12 months’ imprisonment (compared to 10 days to 1 year in jail for a first offense);
- $600 to $1,000 fine (as opposed to $300 to $1,000 for a first offense);
- Minimum 30 days’ community service (compared to 40 hours of community service for a first offense);
- 12 months’ probation (as opposed to no required probation for a first offense)
View more information on multiple DUI charges.
When Can Police Pull You Over?
The law allows police to make traffic stops on pretext, meaning they can pull someone over for a minor infraction as a means to investigate a wrongdoing that is even more serious – such as pulling someone over for expired tags and arresting them for driving while license suspended. A fairly recent Supreme Court case, Heien v. North Carolina, gave more leeway to police making stops when they’re wrong about the law. This ruling could allow police to stop someone for having something dangling from the rear-view mirror and eventually charge the driver with drug possession.
To again use the example of Davis’ case, even if police were wrong about her tags and they were not expired, the resulting charge of “driving while license suspended” could still be upheld. This is because, when it is deemed “reasonable,” mistakes of law by police could be forgiven.