All 50 states have laws in place establishing a blood alcohol content (BAC) level that determines legal intoxication. Across the United States, including in Georgia, 0.08 percent BAC is the standard legal limit. Because 0.08 is the legal limit, most people believe that they cannot be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) if they have a BAC of less than 0.08. Unfortunately, in many states, that assumption is false. Georgia is one of the states that has guidelines for what can be called a “DUI less safe”.
According to Georgia law, DUI less safe means that it is illegal for any individual to operate a moving vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that the individual is less safe to drive. Georgia law provides three standard scenarios in which law enforcement can arrest an individual on charges of DUI less safe, including:
- When the individual shows outward signs of intoxication but refuses to submit to sobriety tests;
- When the individual’s behavior suggests that he or she is incapable of safely operating a moving vehicle regardless of whether his or her BAC is 0.08 or lower; and
- When the individual is stopped by a Georgia State Patrol Nighthawks DUI Task Force officer.
Testing to determine the exact BAC present in an individual can take weeks, meaning that an individual arrested on charges of DUI less safe may find the charges upgraded to DUI Per Se once the test results are completed. DUI Per Se is the standard charge for an individual with a BAC of greater than 0.08. If the BAC testing shows that the individual had a BAC of less than 0.08, the charges may be dropped, depending on how much additional evidence the prosecutor has in support of the charge.
Georgia Law is Strict
Georgia prosecutors have a fair amount of discretion when accusing an individual of DUI less safe. Convictions for DUI less safe can be obtained solely on circumstantial evidence, even if there is no proof that the defendant was impaired. DUI checkpoints enforced by law enforcement officers commonly result in DUI less safe charges and convictions, because the evidence to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt can be circumstantial rather than factual. Because law enforcement officers are aware of this, they often look for signs of impairment or DUI even if the traffic stop or checkpoint was not initiated for the purpose of checking for impaired drivers.
The penalties for a DUI conviction are strict in Georgia. Georgia law provides the following penalties for DUI:
- Fine of up to $1,000
- Community service for a minimum of 40 hours
- DUI school requirement
- Increased insurance premiums
- Incarceration for repeat offenses
DUI Less Safe Defense
In Georgia, DUI is a serious offense, and the title “less safe” does not mean that the case will be handled by the State with the intention of a lesser charge. In fact, Georgia is one of few states that do not have lesser degrees of the DUI offense. Any Georgia resident who has been charged with DUI less safe should act quickly and contact an experienced Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney. Only the aid of a skilled criminal defense attorney can help prevent strict penalties and a lasting criminal record.
At Abt Law Firm, LLC, our skilled attorney will aggressively explore the rights of each client to determine what approach will be best for his or her individual criminal case. If you want to know what options you have to fight a DUI less safe charge, contact Abt Law Firm, LLC right away at 1-800-NOJAIL-9 (1-800-665-2459). At Abt Law Firm, LLC you can count on 24/7 customer service, as well as free consultations by telephone, in our office, or at the jail from our experienced Atlanta DUI attorneys.