McDuffie County's Chief Magistrate Judge was charged with DUI following an April 27 wreck that injured a woman and totaled two cars.
Judge Robert Cofer, 60, told police that he had been drinking at a friend's house last Wednesday night before heading home, said Trooper Mark Cabe of the Georgia State Patrol.
"I could smell the alcohol," Trooper Cabe said.
The judge failed a field sobriety test and registered a 0.13 blood alcohol content, officials said.
Judge Cofer was charged with driving under the influence and running a stop sign. He was freed after posting bond and returned to work Thursday.
The accident occurred at the intersection of Cobbham and Stagecoach roads. Judge Cofer is accused of running a stop sign on Stagecoach Road, where his 2000 Buick LeSabre was struck by a 2000 Plymouth van driven by Bonnie Brooks, 67, of Thomson.
Judge Cofer was not seriously injured. Ms. Brooks was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital for treatment, the trooper said. Her injuries were not serious.
Meanwhile, Probate Court Judge Gene Wells said he'll treat Judge Cofer's case like anyone else's that comes in front of him.
"We have known each other a long time," Judge Wells said. "But he is still going to get the same thing everybody else gets."
Judge Wells said drunken drivers usually get a $695 fine, 24 hours in jail, 40 hours of community service and a year's probation. In addition, their license is usually suspended for a year. But Judge Cofer will qualify as a first-time offender, Judge Wells said.
"If it's first offense, you can get a permit to drive on, which is good for 120 days. If you go to DUI school within that 120 days, you can get your license back after that 120 days," he said.
The fine for a stop-sign violation is $91.
Judge Cofer has served as Chief Magistrate for 12 years.
ago by Chief Superior Court Judge E. Purnell Davis II, who has since retired. Superior Court Chief Judge Roger Dunaway said last week that he had no authority to discipline Judge Cofer.
"He is subject to the conditions and rules and regulations of the Judicial Qualifications Commission," Judge Dunaway said.