The Difference Between a DUI Per Se and Georgia’s Less Safe Law
A DUI per se conviction is the crime most people associate with drunk driving arrests. All that the State must prove for you to be convicted of this DWI offense is that you were operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content above .08. Your driving did not have to be visibly impaired for the police to make this arrest.
The key difference between a DUI per se charge and a DUI less safe is the driver’s impairment. If a driver is driving in an unsafe manner, the police can make a DUI arrest even if his/her BAC was less than .08. The State has a heavier burden of proof for a DUI less safe conviction. The prosecution will have to prove that the driver was driving in an unsafe manner such as reckless driving, swerving, or speeding in order to justify the police officer’s decision to make a traffic stop.
Georgia’s 30 Day Rule
Formerly Georgia’s 10 day rule, Georgia Law now states that if you were charged with DUI and you refused to take a breath, blood or urine test — or if you took the test and your blood alcohol content result was .08 or greater — you have 30 days to request an administrative license suspension hearing to avoid losing your license for a year.This hearing is separate than the one for your criminal DUI charges, but our law firm can help you file the necessary paperwork to request an administrative license suspension hearing.
As a result of the law changing, you also have the option of placing an ignition interlock device in your vehicle with the accompanying driver’s permit instead of attending a hearing. Talk to one of our attorneys to see which option is best for you. Your initial consultation with a DUI lawyer at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland is free of charge.
Georgia’s Implied Consent Law
When you register for a Georgia driver’s license, you agree by law, to give a blood, breath and urine sample to test your blood alcohol level anytime you are arrested for a DUI. This rule is Georgia’s Implied Consent Law. This means that you could lose your driver’s license for refusing to be breath-tested at a DUI traffic stop, even if you weren’t driving drunk.
Can I refuse to give a blood, breath or urine test if the police pull me over for a DUI?
If you refuse to provide the officer with blood, breath or urine sample, your license may be revoked for one year. There are no exceptions for the Implied Consent rule, so you will not be able to drive to work or any medical appointments if your license is suspended following a DUI arrest.
According to Georgia’s Implied Consent law, the following steps occur when you refuse to give a blood, breath or urine sample:
- Your license is immediately revoked for a year.
- The police officer gives you a 30-day driving permit.
- During the 30 days, you must schedule a hearing to determine if you are guilty of a DUI and/or if your refusal to give a sample was permissible by law.
- If you are found guilty at the hearing or if you don’t request one, your license stays revoked for a year.
- If you did not follow the rules of the implied consent law and have previous DUI arrests, your license will be suspended for up to 5 years.
DUI Breathalyzer and Sobriety Tests in Georgia
Field sobriety tests can be so strenuous that even a sober driver could have difficulty completing them. Breathalyzer testing can produce faulty and invalid BAC (blood alcohol content) results. When these requirements work against you or a breath test refusal threatens your freedoms and future, the skilled DUI defense lawyers of Banks, Stubbs & McFarland LLP aggressively protect your rights — and Georgia driving privileges.
Attorneys Rafe Banks and Parker McFarland lead our Cumming law firm’s skilled DUI defense practice. We safeguard your interests during every phase of the legal process, from administrative license hearings to any criminal charges that you face as a result of being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
What are Ignition Interlock Devices?
Certain convicted DUI offenders in Georgia may be ordered to use an ignition interlock device on their vehicles in order to prevent them from committing another drinking and driving offense. Although interlock devices enable DUI offenders to use their vehicles to drive to necessary destinations, such as school, work, treatment meetings and doctor’s appointments, they do come with certain rules and regulations that people must follow in order to avoid further penalties.
Ignition interlock devices are essentially breath test machines that are wired directly into an offender’s vehicle, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The driver must submit a breath sample in order to start the car, and at random intervals while operating the vehicle. The device measures the driver’s blood alcohol content level to determine whether he or she is capable of driving. If at any time the driver’s BAC level reads above a preset limit, which is usually 0.02 percent, the car will either lockup during the initial attempt to start the vehicle, or it will sound an alarm alerting the driver to pull over and turn off the car. All of the information regarding BAC levels, startup attempts and lockups is recorded within the device, and then transmitted to authorities during the vehicle’s regularly scheduled maintenance appointments.
Are DUI Checkpoints Constitutional in Georgia?
According to the Supreme Court, DUI checkpoints are allowed by law as identifying drunk drivers is considered more important than preventing this intrusion on individual Fourth Amendment rights. By law, the checkpoints must be temporary, at random locations and their location must be announced in advance.
Police do not need probable cause to conduct a stop at a sobriety checkpoint. All passing drivers at a DUI checkpoint in Georgia must be stopped and questioned equally. Any indication of discrimination, unnecessarily long detainment or mistakes at a DUI checkpoint can be defenses that beat the State’s charges against you.
Underage Drinking and Driving Charges in Georgia
If you are under 21 and arrested for driving while intoxicated, you risk many negative consequences. In Georgia, a driver who is younger than the drinking age of 21 only needs to have a BAC of .02 to be arrested for a DUI. Refusing to take the breathalyzer test or provide a blood or urine sample when under 21 still falls within Georgia’s implied consent rule, thus it is not an option that comes without punishment.
Drivers arrested for a DWI offense while under 21 must participate in the DUI Alcohol/Drug Use Risk Reduction program as well as pay the $200/$210 license restoration fee. Worst of all, underage DUI offenders face jail time the same length as those over the legal drinking age. Special sentencing options, however, are possible as Georgia law allows for underage drivers to serve their prison sentence on weekends and during non-working hours. Offenders under 21 are also permitted to be house in a facility away from other inmates.
In addition to the above penalties, college students convicted of drinking and driving charges may have damaged their educational opportunities. Underage DUI offenders face a license suspension for 6 months that DOES NOT allow for transportation to work or school. The arrest plus missing classes could easily result in the loss of scholarships as well as expulsion or suspension from the university or college.
Don’t let an underage DUI arrest ruin your academic future. Let the skilled criminal defense attorneys at Banks, Stubbs and McFarland LLP protect your reputation and save your education.
If you were arrested on DUI charges, you face substantial drunk driving fines and other harsh penalties, including suspension or revocation of your Georgia driver’s license.
The skilled DUI defense attorneys of Banks, Stubbs & McFarland LLP, in Cumming use their more than 90 years of combined experience, reputation for results in DUI cases and attentive personal service to protect your rights.
Even if you were driving while intoxicated, accepting guilt is never your only option. If you plead guilty before a trial, sentencing recommendations typically include a day in jail, a year of probation with random drug and alcohol screening, monthly reporting requirements and fees, hundreds of dollars in fines, court costs and taxes, DUI school attendance and community service.
With Banks, Stubbs & McFarland LLP, a DUI defense attorney will fight right alongside you to help preserve your Georgia driving privileges, so you can continue to get to your job and provide for your family.
When I was stopped by law enforcement one evening for ‘failure to maintain my lane,’ it was the start of the worst experience of my life. I had never had any experience with the process of being accused of anything illegal before and consequently, there were many aspects of the law that I did not know existed. I was accused of DUI and in what was very unfriendly conditions, was subsequently failed by the officer on a field sobriety test. I believed this failure to be all that was required to incarcerate me and I therefore mistakenly did not submit to a breathalyzer test. I had no idea that this could potentially cause me to lose all driving privileges and spend as much as one year in jail. After meeting with Parker for a consultation, he informed me in great detail of the process that would follow and what I was realistically up against. After obtaining the police report, he immediately found numerous errors in the field test. He can quote every line of the field sobriety test manual and this extraordinary knowledge was key in my not having to suffer the consequences of a DUI conviction. He was able to negotiate my charge of DUI to reckless driving and allow me to be able to keep my drivers license—without which, my job and my professional career would have been in jeopardy. I would highly recommend that anyone who has made a mistake, whether it be your first encounter with the law as in my case, or if you have been up against the odds previously, choose Parker McFarland to help navigate you through the process of the legal system. I have learned a great deal thanks to the extraordinary attention to detail that Parker exhibited.
Criminal DUI Defense Attorneys in North Georgia DUI Cases
The DUI lawyers at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland LLP serve clients accused of drunk driving in Forsyth County and across North Georgia.
Call today to speak with a legal experts on Georgia’s DUI laws. Call 770-887-1209 or use our contact form to schedule an initial consultation.