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Can I Plead "Nolo Contendere"?

The eligibility rules for the use of a nolo plea for non-residents are now the same as for residents. A nolo contendere plea will not "save" a Georgia license for any arrests made July 1, 1997 or after.

The individual judge decides whether he/she will accept a nolo plea. Any person who has a BAC test of over 0.15 cannot plead nolo. Any person under age 21 who was stopped July 1, 1997 or after and charged with DUI is totally ineligible. Before July 1, 1997, drivers under age 18 were ineligible. In addition, for persons licensed by a state other than Georgia, a nolo contendere plea generally will not "save" your license, absent some special law in your home state that permits this. Upon receiving a report of a DUI conviction in Georgia, the home state will routinely suspend or revoke the person's license in their home state. So, a nolo contendere plea for licensees of states other than Georgia is generally no better than a guilty verdict at trial, or a plea of guilty. This puts a premium on winning the case, or obtaining a non-DUI disposition through negotiations with the prosecutor.

A plea of nolo contendere is always discretionary (optional) with the judge handling the case. It is often unavailable in the event of a refusal to submit to a chemical sobriety test at the time of arrest since many judges will not accept a nolo for "refusal" cases. A nolo is also unavailable to any person who has had a prior guilty plea or verdict or a prior plea of nolo contendere to DUI in the past five (5) years. The DUI bill which became effective July 1, 1997, eliminated the "license saving" aspect of the nolo plea which many Georgians previously sought. Now, even if a nolo plea is accepted for "civil" liability reasons, a Georgia driver's license (or entire privilege to drive in Georgia, for non-resident licensees) will be lost.

The Judge May Always Refuse to Allow "Nolo" Treatment

Most judges now require a copy of your lifetime driving record. In addition, many judges want to know your record in prior states of residence. Even one prior DUI will cause some judges to deny nolo treatment. Sometimes a bad driving history (with no prior DUIs) will cause a judge to deny this plea alternative and will cause the judge to punish more severely.

IN SUMMARY, OFFENDERS WITH A BAC OF .15 OR MORE CANNOT PLEAD NOLO. NOLO TREATMENT IS ALWAYS OPTIONAL WITH THE JUDGE, BUT CANNOT BE PERMITTED FOR A PERSON WHO HAS A PRIOR DUI WITHIN FIVE (5) YEARS. FURTHERMORE, LICENSE SUSPENSION (OR REVOCATION FOR DRIVERS UNDER 21) IS MANDATORY. FOR DRIVERS UNDER 21 AT THE TIME OF ARREST, A NOLO CONTENDERE PLEA IS UNAVAILABLE. FINALLY, AFTER JULY 1, 1997 THE "LICENSE SAVING" ASPECTS OF A NOLO PLEA NO LONGER EXIST.

For additional information, click the category of interest below.

 › A DUI Conviction is Forever
 › Legal Limits of Alcohol Concentration - Three Different Standards
 › DUI - "drugs" and DUI - "alcohol and drugs"
 › What Does the Five-Year "Look-back" Period Relate to?
 › DUI First offense
 › Plea of Nolo Contendere
 › DUI Second Offense/Guilty Plea or Being Found Guilty at Trial
 › Drug Offenses and DUI-Contraband
 › Driver's License Consequences
 › Filing An "Appeal" (Request For Hearing)

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