Atlanta DUI Attorney
Defending Clients Throughout Atlanta, Marietta, Canton, and
the North Georgia Mountains
DUI charges can be tough to face, especially when the consequences include jail time, fines, and a suspension of your driving privileges. At the Dickerson Firm – DUI and Drug Defense Attorneys, client satisfaction is our most important concern. You can trust that DUI defense attorney Jeff Dickerson will take an empathetic and client-oriented approach to your case. He will utilize the knowledge of Georgia DUI law he has developed over two decades of handling DUI and drug crimes in Georgia to help you achieve the best possible result for your case.
Types of DUI Charges in Georgia
Georgia classifies a few different types of DUIs. DUI Per-Se is the most common, and under this statute it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than .08%. DUI-Per Se does not require evidence of impairment. For conviction, the state just needs to show that the defendant’s BAC was 0.08% or more while being in actual physical control of a moving vehicle and that the defendant’s BAC resulted from alcohol consumed before they operated the motor vehicle.
A less familiar type of DUI is a DUI-Less Safe charge, which occurs when an officer believes that a person is a “less safe” driver as a result of alcohol consumption. DUI-Less Safe is commonly charged when a person refuses to submit to a test of blood, breath, or urine, though it can also be charged if the driver submits to chemical testing and their ability to drive is impaired in such a way that poses a danger on the road, even if their BAC is less than 0.08%.
In a drugged DUI charge, particularly pertaining to the Georgia DUI-Marijuana/Controlled Substance statute, a person may be charged with DUI if they have any amount of marijuana or other controlled substance in their blood while operating a motor vehicle. Whether a violation is prosecuted as "per se" or "less-safe" depends on whether the person is legally entitled to use the drug. If an individual has a valid prescription, the state must prove that the driver was a less safe driver as a result of the controlled substance; if the person is not legally entitled to use the drug, the state does not need to prove actual impairment, only that the driver's blood contained the controlled substance while the driver was operating a motor vehicle.
An individual under the influence of any drug, even legally prescribed drugs, can be charged with DUI-Drugs. The state can prove a DUI-Drugs Less-Safe charge without administering a chemical test; they can simply prosecute with any evidence of impairment, such as admissions of drug use, slurred or frantic speech, erratic driving, or the presence of drugs in the vehicle.
An individual who takes a chemical test whose results show that they had drugs in their system might be charged with per se DUI-Drugs. The per se law prohibits driving with any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance, including drug metabolites and derivatives, in the blood or urine. As mentioned earlier, the per se DUI-Drug statutes should only apply in cases where a chemical test shows drugs that have no lawful use, such as cocaine and heroin.
Upon a first-offense DUI, an individual could face up to 12 months in jail, which can be served on probation. They will also incur a fine of $300-$1,000 and need to perform a minimum of 40 hours of community service. A 12-month driver’s license suspension will also go into effect.
A second DUI conviction similarly carries up to 12 months in jail that can be served on probation and with $600-$1,000 in fines. Second-time convicted drivers will also be sentenced to 240 hours of community service and face a 3-year driver’s license suspension. After the suspension, the driver must install an ignition interlock device (IID) on all cars they own.
Third convictions carry a minimum of 15 days and a maximum of 12 months in jail. Fines can go from $1,000-$5,000, and drivers will be required to perform at least 240 hours of community service. Third-time offenses also result in a mandatory 5-year driver’s license revocation, and at the conclusion of the suspension, the driver must install an IID in all their vehicles.
For all offenses, first or subsequent, the defendant must also undergo a clinical evaluation for alcohol and/or drug abuse, and they are required to complete any treatment recommended by the evaluator. They must complete a DUI Risk Reduction course.
Field Sobriety Tests
The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is made of up 3 individual tests:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test - In this test the officer will observe their eyes in question as they slowly move a pen back and forth to look for indicators in each eye that the person is impaired.
- Walk-and-turn test - In this test, the officer instructs the person to take nine steps, touching heel-to-toe in a straight line and the return back. The officer is looking for signs that the person is impaired such as not being able to keep their balance or not following the instructions properly.
- One-leg stand test - In this test, the officer instructs the person to stand with one foot off the ground and hold it until told to put it down. The officer looks for signs of impairment such as swaying, hoping or using their arms to balance.