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Alcohol Limits for Atlanta DUI

What Is The Legal Limit In Atlanta?

Like every other state in the US, Georgia has set the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) at .08 for most drivers who are over the age of 21. This means that if you submit to a chemical test and are found to have .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter (dL, or one-tenth of a liter) of blood, this is sufficient evidence for the state to prosecute you for driving under the influence.

The legal limit was established to keep unsafe drivers off of the public roadways. The federal government conducted analyses of the effects of alcohol consumption on an individual and found that at the level of .08 grams, concentration, depth perception, peripheral vision and glare recovery were significantly impaired. Therefore, in all states, it is illegal to operate a vehicle if your BAC is at or above this level. Blood alcohol content can be measured by law enforcement officials through the use of breath, blood, or urine testing. The use of a standard or handheld breathalyzer is the most common technique utilized by police during traffic stops for DUI suspicion.

How Much Can I Drink Before I Hit The Legal Limit?

The answer to this question will be different for every individual. Your bodyweight will greatly affect the amount of alcohol you may consume before your BAC reaches .08. The National Institute of Health estimates that an individual weighing 240 pounds may consume 3 drinks (defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of liquor) during a one hour period and only have a BAC of .06, which is below the legal limit. However, if an individual weighing 100 pounds were to have the same three beverages, his or her BAC would be around .14 grams/dL, which is nearly double the legal limit. An individual's rate of metabolism can also greatly impact the amount of alcohol it takes to reach a BAC of .08. 

However, for some drivers, it is illegal to operate a vehicle at a BAC lower than .08. In Georgia, for drivers under the age of 21, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with any trace of alcohol in your blood.  The level is officially set at .02 grams / dL, to account for the margin of error caused by the consumption of alcohol-containing food items (like vanilla extract or vinegar) or hygiene items (such as Listerine mouthwash). This level is much lower than that  for most other drivers, and the rationale is different. It is generally acknowledged that a young adult could be operating a vehicle with a BA C between .02 and .08 grams and not be impaired, nor less safe of a driver. However, the state takes a harsh stance on underage drinking and driving and therefore no evidence of impairment is necessary to charge drivers under age 21. 

Additionally, for all drivers operating with a Commercial Driver's License (CDL), the legal limit is .04 grams / dL. This is uniform across the country, and is set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The risks to the general public are perceived as much greater for an impaired driver of a city bus or a tanker carrying heavy lumber or dangerous chemicals on the highway, and therefore the levels of alcohol in the blood must be much lower.

It is important to note that you can still be charged with DUI in Atlanta even if your BAC was lower than the legal limit. This is known as a "less safe DUI", and rather than the result of chemical tests, testimony from law enforcement officials or other evidence of impairment are all that is necessary to charge a driver with this offense. If you are facing charges for driving under the influence of alcohol, no matter what your BAC was at the time of arrest, you still have many options for a legal defense. Please contact me so that we can discuss what happened in your case and begin to develop the best legal strategy.

Call Us 24 Hours a Day

We have a line that will be answered any time, day or night. If you have been arrested for DUI and are facing arraignment at 8:00am tomorrow, or if you are anywhere else in the judicial process, contact the Office of Richard Lawson as soon as possible. Call Us 24 Hours a Day: (404) 800-5810


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