A Look at DUI – Drugs in Georgia
When people hear of someone being charged with driving under the influence, they typically assume that the person was intoxicated due to the consumption alcoholic beverages. While this is true in many cases, it is not accurate in all. Drugged driving is becoming an increasing problem throughout the United States, and Georgia is not immune.
When it comes to driving under the influence laws not being specific to only alcohol, Georgia falls in line with many other states. If a person has taken any substance that impairs their ability to drive safely, they can be charged with driving under the influence. This includes alcohol, illegal narcotics, prescription and over-the-counter medications. A prosecutor can charge a person with DUI – Drugs (DUI-D) in several ways within the state.
Georgia law dictates that a person can be arrested for DUI if they are under the influence of drugs that have made it so they are “less safe” to drive. The state is not tasked with proving the type of drug in your system, only that you appear to be under the influence (Ga. Code Ann. § 40 -6-391(b) (2017).) Evidence used against you may include:
- Erratic driving
- Drugs in the vehicle
- An admission to having used drugs
- Poor performance on a field sobriety test
It’s not just illegal substances that can lead to a driving under the influence charge. Over-the-counter and prescription medication use can also lead to a DUI-Less-Safe charge.
DUID in Combination
This charge is used when a prosecutor believes that drugs have been used in combination with alcohol or inhalants. For example, an officer may conduct a traffic stop and locate an open container of alcohol in the vehicle along with a recently extinguished marijuana cigarette. The officer would relay this to the prosecutor post-arrest, and the charge may be DUI-D in combination.
In most cases, any DUI-D charge is a misdemeanor. Though misdemeanors are often thought of as less severe than felonies, they can have just as serious consequences in your life. That is why it is important for anyone charged with a DUI in Georgia to consult with an experienced DUI attorney.
The penalties for DUI-D are the same as those in place for DUI offenses.
First Offense: A judge has the option of putting you in county jail for up to 12 months. If you had a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or greater, you must serve at least 24 hours behind bars. The sentence for a first offense cannot be less than 12 months. Most judges will place a convicted person on probation instead of putting them in jail for that year, depending on the circumstances of the DUI.
Fines for a first offense may be between $300 and $1,000. The convicted person must also pay to attend the DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program. Additionally, there are surcharges that must be paid. Penalties also include community service and possibly counseling.
Second Offense: A second offense in 10 years means a minimum of 3 days in jail. If they deem it necessary, a judge can sentence the convicted person to up to one year in jail. The fine will total no more than $1,000, and a fee for license reinstatement will be issued, once the suspension is complete.
The convicted person must complete 30 days of community service, attend and pay for the Risk Reduction Program and may be ordered to install an interlock ignition device on their vehicle.
Third Offense: Once you have been convicted of a third DUI-D or DUI in 10 years, you are considered a habitual violator, and it’s considered a “high and aggravated misdemeanor.” Your license will be revoked for five years, and you face a fine of no more than $5,000. You will spend at least 15 days in jail, and you must complete 30 days of community service.
A third offense also means the installation of an ignition interlock device, and you may get limited driving privileges after two years of a license revocation have been completed.
Call an Atlanta DUI Attorney Today
If you have been arrested for any kind of DUI or DUI-D in Atlanta, our attorneys are here for you. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. We will review the details of your arrest and advise you of your legal options. Your freedom, financial stability and standing within the community are at stake. We are ready to mount a strong defense and help you mitigate the possible penalties that you are facing.