If you think a DUI charge is all about your blood alcohol levels, think again. You can be arrested for DUI even if you’re under the “legal limit” of 0.08 grams. As it turns out, the majority of drivers arrested for DUI in Georgia are given a charge called “DUI less safe,” which shifts the standard of proof away from blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you’re a Georgia driver, you should absolutely be aware of DUI less safe and the legal consequences it presents.
The DUI Less Safe Statute
Georgia does not have the “lesser” DUI offenses, like OWI or DWI, that many other states have adopted. Instead, the state has a DUI Less Safe statute, supported by a host of other DUI laws, which criminalizes driving under the influence of any drugs or alcohol that make it “less safe” for a person to drive. When the police arrest you under this statute, they do not necessarily need any chemical test results to support the charge. To boot, a DUI less safe is just as serious as any other Georgia DUI.
The Standard of Proof
If a law enforcement officer believes that someone is a less safe driver because of alcohol consumption, the driver can be arrested for DUI less safe. Police are trained to observe your driving and notice any irregular behavior. While traffic violations like speeding, improper lane changes, and broken tail lights are common reasons to be pulled over, they don’t necessarily relate to the influence of alcohol. An officer may instead look for signs like slurred speech, erratic behavior, or the smell of alcohol as evidence of alcohol consumption. Because the standard of proof is more subjective for DUI less safe—with no need for more objective BAC measurements—the charge is more commonly fought in court.
The DUI less safe charge can sometimes be a precursor to other charges. If you’re arrested for less safe, you’ll typically be asked to take a state-administered chemical test of your breath, blood, or urine. Because of Georgia’s implied consent laws, this could lead to one of two penalties. If you refuse the test, you may face an automatic license suspension; if you take the test and your BAC is 0.08 or higher, you may be given an additional charge commonly called “DUI per se”. This charge is what most people think of when they picture DUI, because it relates directly to your BAC levels and must be proven with the state test.
The penalties for DUI less safe may be the same as for DUI per se. As such, any DUI charge can seriously impact your future. You’ll need a strong legal defense to refute the evidence against you. Contact Savannah DUI to speak with an experienced attorney who understands the intricacies of DUI law in Georgia. We will make sure you have the best possible defense against your charges—and the best possible chance at an acquittal.