Today's winter weather advisory provides a useful reminder that the combination of impaired driving and bad weather can result in tragedy. In Georgia, our DUI law includes both a "Per Se" alcohol limit of 0.08 and DUI "Less Safe."
DUI Per Se:
The per se alcohol limits are easy to understand. When a person's blood alcohol content (BAC), is 0.08 grams percent or more within three hours of driving (from alcohol consumed before or during driving), they are considered to be DUI in Georgia. Most people understand this part of our Georgia DUI Laws.
DUI Less Safe:
Being considered a less safe driver is a complicated concept. When you have consumed alcohol, illegal drugs, or even prescription drugs to the extent that you are less safe to drive, you can also be charged with and convicted of being DUI. Being considered less safe is not tied to any particular amount or level of alcohol or drug impairment. Less safe means that as a result of the alcohol or drugs, a person's ability to drive is not as safe as if they consumed nothing. Ultimately, it becomes judgment call; similar to the offense of too fast for conditions. That is where weather can become a factor.
Weather-Related Less Safe Driving:
When the roads are less safe due to inclement weather, drivers are already at a disadvantage. Even without the consumption of alcohol or drugs, drivers are far more likely to get into an accident. In effect, the standard for being less safe is therefore lowered. That puts a casual drinker at a far greater risk of being charged with DUI, even with a minimal amount of impairment.
In the event of an accident due to the combination of inclement weather and the consumption of alcohol or drugs, drivers could be subjected to additional charges such as serious injury by vehicle or vehicular homicide. I highly doubt many people consider they could be charged as a result of the standard of less safe being lowered as a result of bad weather and poor road conditions.
Be safe everyone, and keep this in mind.