A number of states have a type of DUI offense with which you can be charged if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is under the legal limit of .08% but you’re still determined to be too impaired by alcohol and/or drugs to safely drive. Georgia has an offense that’s called “DUI less safe.”
The Georgia statute that covers this offense states that no one can be in control of a vehicle if they’re under the influence of alcohol, drugs and/or “glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive.”
The statute notes that it doesn’t matter whether a person is “legally entitled to use a drug.” That means, of course, that legally prescribed and over-the-counter drugs can get a person charged with this offense if they’re determined to have contributed to their unsafe driving.
The level of charge and penalties increase with each conviction
A first or second conviction for this offense within a ten-year period are both misdemeanors. The third conviction is a “high and aggravated misdemeanor. A fourth or subsequent conviction is a felony.
A first offense can result in a fine of as high as $1,000 and anywhere from ten days to a year behind bars. You may also be required to complete community service and a drug and alcohol program. The penalties increase, as you might imagine, with each conviction. A fourth conviction in a decade can cost you up to $5,000 in fines and put you behind bars for anywhere from one to five years, along with other penalties.
If you’re arrested for DUI less safe with a child under 14 years of age in the vehicle, you can face a separate charge involving child endangerment – just as you would with a traditional DUI.
An arrest doesn’t have to depend on test results
While a lot of attention is given to Breathalyzer-type tests and their results, it’s crucial to understand that if a law enforcement officer stops you for driving in an unsafe manner and believes you’re under the influence, they can arrest you regardless of what a breath test shows or if you refuse to take one.
No arrest related to DUI should be taken lightly. A conviction could seriously affect your life and even your career. Understanding the law and seeking legal guidance can place you in a much stronger position to fight the charges.