Atlanta, Ga. – With the end of the Thanksgiving Holiday period came statistics regarding drivers on Georgia roadways from the Department of Public Safety.
According to the department, over 6500 citations were issued along with over 250 DUI arrests. As an Atlanta DUI Lawyer, I will outline DUI Law as it is written in the state of Georgia.
DUI is outlined in O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391. The first part of the law states that a person shall not “drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive.” This offense is commonly referred to as “DUI less safe.” This does not mean that the person must have actually committed any less safe act while driving, or that the law enforcement officer making the arrest actually saw the person drive a vehicle. An officer can use his observations during the DUI investigation to support this determination. During the investigation, the officer will be look for clues such as the admission of drinking, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, fumbling, repeating questions or comments, the odor of alcohol on the person's breath, and providing incorrect or inconsistent answers. Field sobriety tests are often administered and are designed to assess the driver's mental and physical impairment.
The second part prohibits driving “under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive.” Any amount of a contraband substance in your system constitutes DUI drugs, however, the State must also prove that the drug rendered you incapable of driving safely. If charged with driving under the influence of a prescription drug, having a prescription for the drug is not a defense to this charge. If the levels of the prescription drug in your system were within “therapeutic” levels, it can be argued that you were not actually “under the influence” of the drug.
The maximum penalty for a typical first DUI misdemeanor is 12 months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine plus court surcharges. The minimum penalty for a first DUI conviction within a 10 year period is 24 hours in jail, which may still be waived as time served, and a $300.00 fine. Other mandatory requirements are 40 hours community service, a DUI Risk Reduction course (commonly known as “DUI School”), and 12 months probation less any time served in jail, which may be supervised or potentially non-reporting and may allow for random drug and alcohol screening. An Alcohol and Drug Evaluation may be required, but can be waived by the judge at his or her discretion.