In Atlanta a person cannot be charged with DUI if the person’s blood alcohol concentration is less than 0.08 grams. However, Atlanta has a “DUI Less Safe” statute, which means that a driver can be convicted of DUI even if the driver’s BAC is less than 0.08 grams.
The DUI laws in Georgia criminalize driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, whether illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter, and toxic vapors to the extent that it is less safe for the person to do so. The State may or may not have a chemical sobriety test result to support this charge.
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391(a)(1) 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.” Law enforcement officers are trained to detect possible DUI violations and their investigation begins with the officer’s observations of your driving behavior.
The most common reason an officer will stop your vehicle will be due to his observance of a traffic violation such as speeding, improper lane change, an equipment violation, or expired registration. If the driver was pulled over for a non-moving violation, it may be difficult for the State to show that he or she was less safe to drive without something more. Many of the officer’s observations up to this point will only show a likelihood of the presence of alcohol but will not show that the driver was actually impaired, and more importantly, impaired to the point of being a less safe driver.
Remember, the prosecution must be able to show that the person was under the influence of alcohol, but a chemical test result is not necessary in order to do so. An officer’s observations during the DUI investigation can be used to support the determination that the driver was impaired by alcohol. 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.
Mere presence of alcohol is not positiveness of a DUI Less Safe case, though, regardless of the amount consumed. This can be an important distinction when no “manifestations of impairment” were observed. An odor of alcohol or a positive Alco-sensor result shows that a person had likely consumed some amount of alcohol, but does not show that the person was actually impaired by it.
A conviction for DUI Less Safe can be based entirely on circumstantial evidence of impairment. This is how many DUI arrests atroadblocks have led to convictions, even with no evidence of less safe driving. Roadblocks and sobriety checkpoints have been a heavily used tool of law enforcement in order to detect and apprehend DUI offenders.
People often think that DUI Less safe is somehow a lessor offense than any other DUI. Nothing is further from the truth. “Less Safe,” only refers to how a case is proved. We have no lessor DUI offense in Georgia. Most states do have lessor offenses of DUI, Georgia does not. If you are charged with DUI Less Safe in Atlanta, you are facing the same consequences of any DUI in Atlanta. If you or someone you know has been charged with a Atlanta DUI Less Safe Charge, Contact the Howard Law GroupASAP. As a Former Prosecutor, we know exactly how the State’s Attorney will handle the case.