Georgia has a zero tolerance stance toward illegal drugs. This is especially true of illegal drug use and driving on Georgia roadways. Most Georgians are unaware that there is a Georgia DUI Drugs charge as well as the typical alcohol based DUI.
In yesterday's post, I highlighted the illegal drug, heroin, and the affects it has on drivers. Today, as a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I'd like to focus on the law that governs driving under the influence of narcotics - either prescription or illicit drugs.
Georgia DUI Drugs
O.C.G.A. §40-6-391 in the Georgia Code outlines the law on driving under the influence of drugs as:
“A person shall not drive while under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive; a person shall not drive under the influence of a combination of substances (i.e. drugs and alcohol) to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive; a person cannot be under the influence of prescription drugs, even if a drug or drugs are prescribed legally.”
As you can see, the law includes all drugs, and if you are pulled over, and an officer suspects that you are under the influence of drugs, then he or she will be looking for any and all clues. There is no quantitative legal limit for drug use, which is where a DUI Drugs charge differs from an alcohol DUI. The officer will be looking to answer the question: is this driver under the influence of a drug to the extent that he or she is a less safe driver?
To answer this question, the investigating officer will consider a lot of factors. These factors include Georgia field sobriety test performance, Georgia sobriety test results, mannerisms, behavior, speaking capabilities, conversational skills, etc.
In order to be convicted of DUI Drugs, the prosecution must prove whether or not someone is driving under the influence of a drug or drugs to the extent that he or she is a less safe driver. Again, there is no quantitative legal limit for drug consumption, so the arresting officers' observations are usually the determining factors.
A DUI Drugs conviction comes with many of the same Georgia DUI Penalties as an alcohol DUI in Georgia. Penalties for a first-time conviction of DUI Drugs include a minimum of 24 hours in jail, at least $300 in fines, 12 month sentence to probation, 40+ hours of community service, DUI School completion, and a clinical drug/alcohol evaluation.
The penalties listed above are the legal minimums. This means that a judge can actually sentence much harsher consequences if he or she deems it necessary. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Georgia is a zero tolerance state, which means that judges are actually much more likely to sentence much harsher penalties than the minimums.
This is where we come in. Our firm has over 50 years of combined experience in Georgia DUI Defense. If you or a loved one is facing these penalties, contact us today. We will walk with you every step of the way and provide you with the best defense for your case.