Deep Dive into Georgia DUI Less Safe Law 

Posted by Richard Lawson | May 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

I write about Georgia DUI Laws often because they are complicated, and I believe that Georgians should know what the laws are in their state. 

As a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I know that there is a lot of misinformation spread around about DUI in Georgia. One of the most common misconceptions about driving under the influence is that a person cannot be charged with DUI if the person's blood alcohol concentration is less than 0.08 grams. 

But everyone should know that Georgia also has a “DUI Less Safe” statute. This law means that a driver can be convicted of DUI even if the driver's BAC is less than 0.08 grams, which is technically the legal limit. 

DUI Less Safe in Georgia

According to Georgia law (O.C.G.A. §40-6-391(a)(1)), a person shall not “drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive." This means that the DUI Less Safe in Georgia is just as serious as DUI. Georgia does not have OWI, Wet Reckless, or DWI. 

The Georgia DUI Penalties are just as serious.

What is the difference between DUI and DUI Less Safe?

The DUI Less Safe statute refers to the standard of evidence used to prove the accused person of driving under the influence. 

Breath and blood tests in Georgia are not necessary to show that the person was under the influence of alcohol or that he or she was an impaired driver. 

Actually an officer's observations during the investigation are typically used to support that the driver was impaired in a DUI Less Safe.

Georgia officers are trained to look for hints such as:

  • Repetition or inconsistency during conversation
  • Odor of alcohol 
  • Fumbling or clumsiness Admission of drinking
  • Slurred speech
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Performance on Georgia field sobriety tests
  • Manner of driving
  • Ability to follow instructions
  • Anything else anyone would use to determine if someone was impaired

Also, police officers use scientific tests to determine if someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  One such test is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN). Another type of testing is when a police officer who has has been trained as a drug recognition expert, commonly referred to as a “DRE,” makes observations of a person who is suspected to be under the influence of drugs. Through those observations the officer determines whether to make an arrest. 

Examples in Georgia Case Law

Anderson v. State, 226 Ga. 35 (1970): The accused person was under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it was less safe for the person to operate a motor vehicle than if he or she were not so affected. Therefore, it is not sufficient that the evidence shows the defendant had alcohol in his or her system. 

Evans v. State, 253 Ga. App. 71 (2001): The accused person's impaired driving depends on his or her individual response to alcohol. Everyone responds to alcohol differently so just the presence of alcohol in the accused person's body does not, alone, support that he or she was an impaired driver. 

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI or a DUI Less Safe in Georgia, contact a Georgia DUI Attorney today.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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