“Less Safe DUI”
Georgia has two types of DUI violations. A per se violation is the type that most people are familiar with. If a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more, they are per se impaired. The BAC over the limit is enough for the police to arrest or convict a driver for a DUI in most cases, even without any evidence that the driver was acting impaired, or driving unsafely. However, even without a BAC of 0.08 percent, the police can arrest a driver who is driving less safe because of alcohol.
Under the law making a “less safe” DUI a violation, a person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, or any drug, to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive.
Evidence of Less Safe Driving
How do the police demonstrate probable cause to arrest a person for a “less safe” DUI? The police and prosecutors will try and establish that a driver was under the influence enough to make it less safe for them to drive than if they had been sober. The evidence presented may include the officer's observations and written report. This may include:
- Weaving across the lanes;
- Erratic braking;
- Slow response to traffic signals;
- Driving with headlights off; or
- Almost striking an object.
After stopping a vehicle for a traffic violation, or on suspicion of drunk driving, the police will try and gather evidence that the driver has been drinking or is under the influence of alcohol. This includes the smell of alcohol on the driver, visual evidence of alcohol in the car, bloodshot eyes, and slurred speech. In many cases, a driver will admit to consuming alcohol, which will further support the police officers case that the driver may be impaired. After that, the police will attempt to get the driver to submit to a variety of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs), and a field breathalyzer. It is important to remember that these field tests are not mandatory, and while the police may make it seem like failing to submit to the tests will end in arrest, the police would likely arrest a driver under the influence with or without field sobriety tests.
Chemical Test After Arrest
After a driver is arrested for a DUI charge, they will be taken back to the police station to submit to a chemical alcohol test, usually by blood or breath. Unlike the field breathalyzer, the law requires a driver to submit to a chemical test after a DUI arrest. If you refuse to submit to chemical BAC testing, your license will automatically be suspended for one year. This is through Georgia's “implied consent” law.
Without the evidence of a blood or breath test to evidence a driver has a per se violation of driving under the influence, in addition to a one-year license suspension, the prosecutor will attempt to get a conviction for “less safe” DUI. The prosecutor will use the officer's observations to demonstrate less safe driving, even without a BAC test.
Atlanta Less Safe DUI Defense Lawyer
With many per se DUI cases, a Georgia DUI defense lawyer, with specialized training, can challenge the findings of the chemical test. With a “less safe” DUI, an experienced lawyer will be able to challenge the officer's opinions and observations, to get charges reduced or dismissed. If you have been arrested for “less safe” driving under the influence in Atlanta, you don't have to plead guilty. I am certified to teach field sobriety testing, so I know exactly what the police are looking for, and how to challenge their opinions. Call me today, so we can discuss what happened in your case, and how we will fight to keep your license and defend your rights in court.