Sandy Springs, GA asked in DUI / DWI for Georgia

Q: Is a DUI less safe the same as a regular DUI?

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William C. Head
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  • DUI & DWI Lawyer
  • Sandy Springs, GA
  • Licensed in Georgia

A: In Georgia, a DUI less safe case can be by either alcohol or by drugs. About 85% or more are strictly ALCOHOL cases, but some are DUI less safe by a combination of alcohol and drugs. Then, other cases have no evidence of alcohol being used, but symptoms of drug use only.

Without elaborating too much, any DUI-drugs conviction imposes harsher consequences after conviction, ranging from total loss of the right to drive, to higher fines and surcharges. Plus, a DUI-drugs conviction can cause cancellation of a gun permit, which is one of several unique punishments called for by the Georgia Legislature under DUI laws in Georgia.

If alcohol is the suspected impairing substance for a driver suspected of driving under the influence in Georgia, as shown by a smell of alcohol on the person's breath, or through admission of alcohol consumption, or both, a police officer (e.g., Georgia State Patrol) will arrest that person for DUI alcohol less safe.

The charge of “less safe” DUI-alcohol does not depend upon a breathalyzer test or blood test result showing a numeric reading. In about half the DUI-alcohol cases, a battery-powered, portable breathalyzer test is given to the detained driver, but many law enforcement officers don’t carry preliminary breath alcohol test devices like an Alco-sensor. BY way of example, the State of Florida banned use of these devices, due to the confusion it cased for arrested drunk driver who believed they had already TAKEN the required breath test.

About half of all arrests made in Georgia involve the police officer offering a roadside, hand-held test, but these are NOT the official test. Under GA DUI law, the RESULTS obtained by these non-evidential portable alcohol breath tests can only be reported (in court proceedings) as being “positive” or “negative,” and not reported as a numeric value. Since these roadside devices are OPTIONAL and VOLUNTARY, these --- as well as all field sobriety tests --- should be politely declined.

This type of less safe DUI alcohol offense, which is how all DUI-alcohol arrests begin, depends on the Prosecutor (and testimony from the arresting officer) being able to convince a jury of the driver’s GUILT, based on 3 possible categories of CIRCUMSTANTIAL “evidence:”

1. The errant driving conduct seen or recorded by the officer. The driving may or may not be consistent with a drunk driver. For example, a roadblock arrest has no bad driving. Other cases may have plenty of dangerous driving, such as an accident, swerving, weaving, wide turns at intersections, etc.

2. Physical mannerisms or manifestations of an impaired person, such as slurring speech, being unsteady on his or her feet when walking, having an odor of alcohol emanating from the mouth, loss of normal dexterity in obtaining driver’s license, etc.

3. If the DUI suspect attempts performing field tests, which are optional and voluntary, these roadside evaluations usually include HGN eye test (horizontal gaze nystagmus test), the walk-and-turn test, wherein nine heel-to-toe steps are taken in a specific manner, down a line, then the suspect turns around in a specified manner and walks back down the same line, in the same manner, the same number of heel-to-toe steps (9). These are the NHTSA standardized field sobriety tests.

So, the type of DUI required to be proven by the Prosecutor, beyond a reasonable doubt, called DUI less safe by alcohol depends on the jury being unanimously convinced that --- by virtue of consuming too much alcohol, the arrested driver was “less safe” to drive, as compared if he or she had not consumed whatever alcohol was ingested.

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