Be Prepared: Understanding Georgia’s DUI Laws
Finding yourself pulled to the side of the road after stopping for a drink with a friend can be a terrifying moment. Even if you’ve only had one alcoholic beverage, you could be driving illegally, and in the moment, it can be impossible to know for sure.
Many drivers don’t understand Georgia’s Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws (OCGA § 40-6-391) enough to know whether they have broken the law, and even more are unaware of their rights.
What is the Legal Limit for Alcohol Consumption/Drugs?
Georgia’s DUI laws are based upon the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC), or the amount of alcohol contained in a person’s blood. Different drivers may be subject to different limits:
- Drivers 21-years-old or older who are operating a regular passenger vehicle are driving illegally if their BAC is 0.08% or higher.
- Drivers 21-years-old or older who are operating a commercial vehicle are driving illegally if their BAC is 0.04% or higher.
- Drivers younger than 21-years-old are driving illegally if their BAC is 0.02% or higher.
- If the state can prove you are a less safe driver due to any amount of alcohol you can be convicted of DUI.
- There is a presumption you are not under the influence if you BAC is less than .05, there is no presumption for BAC above .05 and below .08, and one is per se DUI for a BAC of .08 or higher.
Georgia DUI laws also make it illegal to drive less safe if you have drugs in your system even if they are prescription or if have a combination of drugs and alcoholic your system that may render one less safe to drive.
Can I Get A DUI If I’m Not Driving?
Georgia’s DUI laws are based upon control of a vehicle, not operation of it. Therefore, regardless of whether the car is in motion, you can be charged with a DUI if you have actual, physical control over the vehicle. This means, if a driver is in the vehicle and could make it move or recently exited the vehicle and was the only potential driver, he or she could be charged with a DUI offense.
Do I Have to Take a Breathalyzer?
In Georgia, the implied consent statute deems that any person who is lawfully arrested for a DUI has given implied consent to a chemical test of breath, blood, or urine for the purposes of testing BAC levels (OCGA § 40-6-391). Drivers must also give actual consent. By denying the chemical test for a first offense, the driver’s license is automatically suspended for one year, and the refusal to take the test may be used against the driver in court. The suspension period increases for second and third offenses.
However, recent rulings by the Georgia Supreme Court surrounding the implied consent statute may be helping DUI attorneys in Gwinnet County get some key DUI evidence suppressed.
It’s important to understand that refusing a DUI does not mean you will not be found guilty of driving under the influence; in fact, the prosecution may argue that your refusal reflects that you knew you were well above the legal limit.
DUI law is a very specialized area of the law and there are countless points of attack. At ATC we analyze the stop, stopping sequence, initial contact, validity of the field sobriety tests, implied consent, Miranda implications, validity intoxilizer 5000 and 9000 and background of the officers involved to name just a few.
What Should I Do If I Am Arrested for a DUI?
When facing a DUI, it’s essential to hire an experienced DUI Attorney that understands how to represent your best interests.
At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys, Patrick McDonough and Trinity Hundredmark, have combined experience of more than 30 years representing clients facing criminal charges in Georgia. For more information, or to request a case evaluation, contact our law office at 1-770-822-0900.