DUI laws can seem complicated even for many in the legal profession. That is why I want to explain Georgia driving under the influence laws in plain English.
In the state of Georgia, there are two types of DUI cases. A driver can be charged with a “less safe” violation or a “per se” violation.
If the arresting officer charges you as a “less safe” driver, the prosecutor will call the officer to testify about your driving patterns and your appearance at the time of your arrest. The prosecutor will attempt to prove that you were a less safe driver due to the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination. The officer will discuss whether you smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes, slurred your speech, or showed any other physical symptoms of intoxication.
To be charged with a “per se” violation, you must have a BAC over the legal limit, which is 0.08 percent in Georgia. It is important to note that the prosecutor does not have to prove that you were a less safe driver in order to secure a conviction. What does this mean? Say you had a couple of cocktails and felt fine to drive home. Even if you weren’t driving sporadically, you can still be stopped and arrested for driving under the influence if you are above the legal BAC limit.
“Per se” violations are stricter for drivers under the age of 21 and commercial drivers. Drivers under the age of 21 will be charged with a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher. This is due to Georgia’s Zero Tolerance laws.
Drivers operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC level of 0.04 percent or higher when pulled over will also be charged with a “per se” violation.
Whether you are charged with a “less safe” violation or a “per se” violation, there are defenses that can be used on your behalf. For example, if the officer states that your eyes were bloodshot at the time of arrest, this could be explained by allergies or an eye condition.
If you are charged with a “per se” violation, a good defense attorney will examine the breath-testing device to determine whether or not it was calibrated and maintained properly. If it was not, the results may be inadmissible in court.
What do you think of these two types of DUI charges?