Georgia DUI Law Summary: DUI Per Se vs. DUI Less Safe

In Georgia, there is more than one way to be convicted of a DUI charge. The prosecution has the burden of proof that you have violated the law.

Two distinct approaches may assist the prosecution in this endeavor.

DUI Pro Se

DUI Per Se is the type of law that most laypeople associate with DUI charges. In Georgia, it is illegal for a person to operate a motor vehicle while the driver has a blood alcohol content level of more than the legal limit. The legal limit for most adults age 21 and older is 0.08. If their blood alcohol content level is above this limit, the person should be found guilty even if the prosecution cannot show that the driver’s ability to drive was impaired.

More specifically, the prosecution is only required to show that the driver’s blood alcohol content was .08 or higher within three hours of being in physical control
of a moving vehicle. Additionally, the prosecution must show that the blood alcohol content level resulted from alcohol that the driver consumed before operating the vehicle.

The legal limit for minors and operators of commercial vehicles is different. For drivers under 21, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content level of .02 or higher. For commercial vehicle operators, the per se limit is .04.

DUI Less Safe

Another DUI charge can result even if a driver was under a specific blood alcohol content level. This is referred to as “DUI Less Safe” in Georgia. This charge is not dependent on evidence of the driver’s blood alcohol content level. Instead, a person can be arrested for this offense if a law enforcement officer believes that the driver is a less safe driver because of alcohol consumption.

This type of charge may result when law enforcement arrested someone and gave a blood alcohol content test but the driver tested under .08. Another common reason for this charge to arise is when the driver refuses to submit to a breath, blood or urine test.

Because DUI Less Safe is more of a subjective charge that does not rely on more accepted objective evidence as DUI Per Se cases, they are usually tried more often than DUI Per Se cases. The prosecution has the burden of proving the extent of the driver’s impairment beyond a reasonable doubt. It may present evidence such as the driver’s erratic behavior, odor of alcohol, slurred speech or other indications of being under the influence of alcohol.

Driving the Vehicle

Another legal element that the prosecution must show by proof beyond a reasonable doubt is that the person was driving the vehicle or in actual physical control of a moving vehicle. If this element is missing, the prosecution has not met its burden and the defendant should not be convicted.

Valid Stop

Another important factor is that the law enforcement officer acquire the evidence of DUI pursuant to the law. In Georgia, the legal standard for a traffic stop is reasonable suspicion that the driver has committed a traffic violation or crime. If the stop is not valid, subsequent incriminating evidence can be deemed inadmissible.

Consequences of a DUI Conviction

Whether the defendant is convicted of DUI Per Se or DUI Less Safe, the defendant can face significant legal consequences. Such consequences include jail time, fines and a license suspension. Repeat offenders are subject to harsher penalties.

Provided by

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case.

Find a Lawyer