Is Duress a Defense to a DUI in Georgia?

Posted by Richard Lawson | Jun 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

Duress or compulsion is when someone is forced to commit a crime because of a threat of violence against them.  Since criminal intent is a necessary element of any criminal offense in Georgia, duress must take away the free will of the accused, and as a result the intent to commit the crime.

With DUI, the intent element is an interesting legal issue because no one intends to commit the crime of DUI.  The intent necessary to commit a DUI offense in Georgia is, therefore, the intention to commit the acts themselves that resulted in the driving and the impairment vis-à-vis alcohol or drugs. 

For Duress to be a Defense to a DUI in Georgia, some external factor must either force the accused to either become intoxicated or to drive.  Voluntary intoxication is not a defense to any crime in Georgia.

Generally, courts have viewed the following as essential elements of the defense of duress.

A Threat of Harm:

The threat to the person must be both real and substantial.  The defendant must show that, but for taking the action, he or she would face actual bodily harm.  Emotional harm would not be considered enough to commit the act.  The harm, however, can be to someone else such as a spouse or child.  The harm must also be immediate.  Future harm can be handled by the authorities.   


The fear of harm must be reasonable and not the result of fantasy or conjecture.  Essentially, it must be such that a reasonable person in a similar situation would act the same way.  If almost all people felt the same duress, that would show sufficient reasonableness.  

No Other Escape:

The Defense of Duress cannot be used if the accused has some other reasonable way to escape the situation.  

Practice Notes:

Involuntary intoxication is a defense to any crime.  If someone forced another person to become impaired, that could be a defense to his or her driving under the influence case.

If someone forced an intoxicated person to drive, that could also be a defense.  

Duress should not be confused with justification or entrapment.  They are different potential defenses in a criminal prosecution. 

For more Georgia DUI Information check back regularly. 

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Georgia DUI Defense Attorneys

At the Law Office of Richard S. Lawson, we have offices conveniently located throughout metro Atlanta and throughout Georgia. If we do not have a convenient office, we will come to you. We practice throughout Metro Atlanta and North Georgia. If your case is in an area we do not serve, we will find you an attorney in your area free of charge. Our office is part of a State-wide network of Georgia DUI Lawyers. Contact us 24/7 for immediate legal help. Our attorneys are standing by. Your DUI Case will not defend itself. Your Best Georgia DUI Defense Begins Here!