Understanding the DUI Less Safe

The DUI laws in Georgia are extensive and complex, and it can be easy for people to misunderstand information they are given around these laws, or for the details to be passed on from person to person and misinterpreted along the way. One of the most frequent misconceptions we have heard time and time again is that if a person’s blood alcohol concentration is less than 0.08 (the legal limit), they cannot be charged with a DUI.

This is not the case in Georgia, as the state also has a DUI Less Safe statute. This means that even if a driver’s blood alcohol concentration is less than 0.08, it is still possible for them to be charged and convicted of DUI. In other words, any level of drugs – alcohol, prescription, or illegal – in your system is considered “less safe” than driving without consuming these substances.

Other states have different statues that are in place to deal with lesser DUI offenses such as OWI (operating while intoxicated), Wet Reckless (where the driver pleads to reckless driving with alcohol involved), or DWI (driving while intoxicated). However, in Georgia, the DUI Less Safe is not a lesser charge and is treated every bit as seriously as DUI.

While a driver may think because they are being charged under this statute that they may receive a less severe penalty, the “Less Safe” part alludes merely to the standard of evidence that is used to prove the driver was driving under the influence.

30 Day Warning after DUI Less Safe Charge

A person who has been charged with DUI Less Safe in Georgia has 30 days to request an ALS (administrative license suspension) hearing or ignition interlock device. Either can be organized via your attorney. If you request an ALS hearing, a $150 fee must be paid in full within 30 days. However, if neither are requested, the driver’s license will automatically be suspended for up to a year.

The Georgia DUI Less Safe Law Defined:

O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391(a)(1) states that a person must 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.” Officers who suspect a driver is driving under the influence, however small the amount of alcohol, can still argue that they were driving in a manner that was less safe, for example, if the person was speeding, changed lanes dangerously, or if the driver was pulled over for a non-moving violation.

How is DUI Less Safe Proved in Georgia?

To prove a DUI Less Safe in Georgia, the State must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was affected by the intoxicant to the point where they had impaired driving ability. A chemical test is not necessary to prove that a person was under the influence of alcohol. Until recently, refusal to take a test could be used against you in court. However, the case Elliot v. Georgia overturned this law. On the other hand, evidence given by the on-scene officer, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, being able to smell alcohol, fumbling, and providing inconsistent answers to questions or requiring questions to be repeated, can be used to support the prosecution.

What Is the Penalty?

In Georgia, a first DUI Less Safe is usually charged as a misdemeanor offense. The penalties for a conviction can include a fine of up to $1,000 and incarceration of up to one year. Alternative penalties may include community service, attending a DUI program, and having a clinical evaluation. A DUI conviction also means a driver will lose his or her license for up to one year.

If you have been charged with a DUI Less Safe, the experienced, professional lawyers at Pak & McRae can provide an aggressive defense to have this overturned. Get in touch at (678) 632-5298  for a free, confidential consultation today!

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Pak & McRae Law

At Pak and McRae Law, LLC we provide straightforward, sincere criminal defense for local, state, and federal matters. Our team includes a former Assistant District Attorney, so we understand how prosecutors approach cases and will use those insights to benefit your case.

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