Two University of Georgia football players were arrested hours after UGA's victory in the SEC Championship game. Driver Jayson Stanley was charged with DUI-Drugs and marijuana possession. Passenger Natrez Patrick was charged with marijuana possession.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported additional details on the players' arrest: according to the police report, the police stopped the players' vehicle for speeding and "weaving back and forth" in the lane. When the officer came to the driver's window, he reportedly smelled an "over powering odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle." (This is a common claim made by police in DUI-Marijuana cases).
A subsequent search revealed marijuana in the vehicle. When asked by police if he had smoked marijuana, Stanley (the driver) reportedly said he had smoked marijuana one hour earlier. Stanley agreed to take blood and urine tests and was issued a citation for DUI-Drugs, as well as for possession of marijuana. Patrick was issued a citation for possession of marijuana less than one ounce.
Penalties for DUI-Drugs in Georgia
In Georgia, a first conviction for DUI-Drugs in ten years will result in a minimum of one day in jail, a fine of $300, 12 months of probation, 40 hours of community service, attending DUI school, and a drug and alcohol evaluation. This is the minimum punishment. Many Georgia jurisdictions impose harsher penalties. You also face suspension of your drivers' license for up to one year.
Possession of small amounts of marijuana is often a misdemeanor in Georgia, but it can still result in losing your license for at least 6 months.
Above and beyond the legal consequences, certain individuals may face additional penalties at work or at school for marijuana possession, DUI, or DUI-Drugs convictions. An arrest or conviction can result in being suspended or fired from your job.
UGA students convicted of DUI can potentially lose their academic or athletic scholarships. The UGA players arrested after the SEC Championship Game may face suspension or dismissal from the football team. According to the UGA players' handbook, a player should be suspended for two games after a first arrest. After a third arrest, the player should be automatically dismissed from the team. This was Stanley's first arrest and Patrick's third. UGA is scheduled to play Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl Game on New Year's Day, potentially without two important players.
DUI-Drugs Defenses in Georgia
There are many potential defenses to DUI charges in Georgia. These include challenging the traffic stop, the search of a vehicle, field sobriety tests, and breath or blood tests. Even if your blood test came back positive for marijuana, don't lose hope.
The human body breaks down marijuana into different metabolites. One metabolite is psychoactive, meaning it gets you "high" and can impair driving. The other is non-psychoactive and is non-impairing. The most commonly-administered blood tests in Georgia don't differentiate between these two metabolites. The non-impairing metabolite can stay in your system for several weeks after marijuana use. That means you can test positive for marijuana in your blood without actually being impaired.
To successfully defend against a DUI-Drugs case, an attorney must understand Georgia law and the science of marijuana and marijuana testing. They can also consult with expert witnesses to challenge the evidence in your case. If you have been charged with DUI or DUI-Drugs, contact a Georgia DUI Lawyer to start building your defense.