Two Types of DUI Charges
There are two major types of drunk driving charges that Atlanta drivers can face: Per Se DUI and Less Safe DUI. The major difference is the type of evidence required for each charge. It is illegal for a driver to be in control of a motor vehicle if they have an amount of alcohol (or drugs) in their system that makes them a less safe driver. For a 'Less Safe' DUI, the evidence required to prove guilt is the fact that the driver was operating in a manner that was to any degree unsafe.
For a Per Se DUI, the evidence required for guilt are the results of a chemical test demonstrating that the driver was above an established amount of blood alcohol content (BAC) in the blood as appropriate to their age and driver's license type. For drivers under the age of 21, this threshold is .02 grams / dL of blood. For drivers operating with a Commercial Driver's License (CDL), this threshold is .04 grams. For all other drivers, this threshold is .08 grams.
A person's BAC is measured through the use of a chemical test, usually performed by law enforcement officials during a vehicle stop for DUI suspicion. These tests include blood, breath, or urine tests. The most commonly used test is a breath test, for which an officer will either use a standard or portable breathalyzer machine. Prior to administering any chemical tests, a law enforcement officer must inform the driver of the concept of implied consent, which means that under Georgia law, you must submit to testing of your urine, blood or breath to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs if arrested on DUI suspicion, and that refusal is permitted, but will result in loss of driving privileges and can be used against you.
If you submit to a chemical test, and your BAC as measured is at or above the legal limit, you will be charged with a Per Se DUI. There does not need to be any additional evidence that you were an unsafe driver (such as swerving, violating traffic laws, etc). Your BAC test result is considered sufficient to charge you with DUI.
However, just because you submitted to a test and the result was sufficient for you to be charged with a Per Se DUI, this does not mean you will automatically be found guilty of DUI. For example, there are many requirements for the administration of a breath test, including the regular maintenance and calibration of the machine used. If your lawyer can prove that the breathalyzer used to take your BAC did not meet the required standards, your results may be challenged. Additionally, there are some medical conditions that can interfere with obtaining an accurate reading of BAC and these also provide grounds to legally challenge results.
If you have been charged with a Per Se DUI, please contact me. Together we will examine exactly what happened in your case and determine the most effective legal strategy.