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Georgia DUI Laws Explained by Best DUI Lawyer in Atlanta

By: William C. Head, Board-Certified DUI Lawyer and Attorney & Drunk Driving Book Author

GA DUI laws are written by the Georgia Legislature. The United States is the only nation that does not have a single, unified set of driving under the influence laws, which makes the job of a DUI attorney difficult, especially when trying to advise a driver facing a DUI in Georgia, but being licensed in another state.

Despite Georgia DUI law being created by our state Legislature, the impetus to pass new Georgia DUI laws usually is initiated by the federal government or MADD.

The DUI Georgia drunk driving and drugged driving statutes that we have today are a patchwork of more than three dozen alterations of those original statutes, which were codified in 1968. All aspects of today’s Georgia DUI penalties are indirectly guided (“suggested”) by federal mandates from the DOT (department of transportation) in Washington, DC that have “encouraged” states to follow their lead, or lose federal highway funding.

By way of example, per se alcohol DUI laws in GA had been changed from 0.15 in 1968 (the legal alcohol limit suggested by the American Medical Association in 1946), to 0.12 in 1981, and later to 0.10 in 1991. Each change of laws for DUI in GA were pushed by the threat of Uncle Sam cutting off millions or billions in federal highway funds. Then, in 2000, just before leaving office, President Bill Clinton signed an executive order (requested by the DOT) to lower the legal BAC levels in all states to 0.08, or lose highway dollars.


Why This Change in Georgia DUI Laws Is Significant for a DUI in Georgia

Today, under the DUI Georgia per se alcohol law, the Prosecutor only has to prove that you were lawfully arrested for a GA DUI, and that your implied consent test showed 0.08 grams percent or higher, to support a conviction. No proof of impairment is needed, if the jury accepts that “number.” For a female weighing 110 pounds, who has two red wines at a restaurant, the Georgia BAC legal limit can be exceeded, if the woman had little or no food, and drove within 90 minutes after consuming those alcoholic drinks.

So, the lowering of the BAC levels over the decades has meant that an increasingly large number of DUI Georgia cases can be made, regardless of cautious, reasonable consumption of alcohol.

Georgia Governor Roy Barnes made certain that the BAC Georgia “legal alcohol limit” was dropped to 0.08 grams percent at the next legislative session, in 2001. The new DUI laws in GA also increased multiple categories of DUI penalties, like community service hours, jail time and other legal consequences. More than four years after the legal alcohol limit in GA was amended, the final state to grudgingly enact this new standard was Minnesota, in 2005, so all of the nation’s DUI laws for the adult alcohol legal limit are now 0.08 grams percent.

DUI Charges in GA: What Are the Main Statutes for DUI Laws in Georgia?

Well over two dozen different statutes pertaining to DUI laws in GA contain provisions that control such things as ability to get a driver’s license, restricting the types and categories of driving privileges that a person may have, if he or she has been convicted of a first offense DUI Georgia, a 2nd DUI in GA, or other repeat drunken driving offense. The main DUI GA statutes directly controlling drunk driving and DUI drugs are OCGA 40-6-391, 40-5-55, 40-5-67.1, and 40-6-392. Broadly written to convict impaired drivers, regardless of the SUBSTANCE, such as alcohol, drugs, prescription medications, synthetic substances, like “molly,” marijuana, glue fumes, aerosol vapors, gasoline fumes or anything else that can cause central nervous system impairment.

So, Georgia law relating to intoxicated or impaired driving is comprehensive. About 15% or DUI Georgia cases involve OTHER impairing substances beyond alcohol, but 85% of our DUI law firm cases are alcohol only. However, for the main GA statute, O.C.G.A. 40-6-391, two primary WAYS to be convicted of an alcohol-related DUI in GA are:

  1. DUI per se alcohol under 40-6-391(a)(5) (being over the legal alcohol limit in GA, as shown with the pedestal table analogy above); AND
  2. DUI less safe under 40-6-391(a)(1) (by having too much alcohol to drive safely, regardless of any “number” of your blood alcohol content.

This second type of DUI alcohol statute REQUIRES proof of impairment, from alcohol, before a jury can find you guilty of a Georgia DUI under this provision. The three-legged stool below is another visual that jurors seem to understand, since the State’s burden of proof is more difficult in DUI less safe cases, in light of multiple categories of proof being needed.

Hire an DUI Attorney Who Knows How to Beat a DUI in Georgia

William C. Head, Board-Certified by the National College for DUI Defense, and a Georgia Super Lawyer since 2004. Named the Best DUI Lawyer in Atlanta by Best Lawyers in America twice, in 2012 and 2017, the veteran criminal defense attorney Atlanta and his two criminal defense law partners, Larry Kohn and Cory Yager, all know how to beat a DUI in GA. This has been done by all three Super lawyers thousands of times in our collective 70 years in Georgia courts.

All DUI law firm partners are now legal book authors. Call us for a FREE Lawyer Consultation, so we can explain your options, and how to protect your driver’s license from being suspended for a FULL YEAR, for an implied consent violation. You only have 30 days to ACT. Do not procrastinate. Call us now, 24-7 at 404-567-5515.

The Rise of Mandatory Georgia DUI Laws for Ignition Interlock

Due to the influence of MADD, we now have added mandatory ignition interlock device laws to these Georgia DDS legal provisions, for repeat offenders and (recently) to permit a limited driving permit Georgia to drive for a person facing an administrative license suspension for having refused to take a post-arrest implied consent test of blood, breath or urine.

Drivers with Out of State Driver’s License Get the Short End of the Stick

This permit is appropriately named (limited driving permit Georgia) since the Legislature wrote the law to only allow use of permits for Georgia licensed drivers, and not for those non-residents who hold a driver license from Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee or any other state. Permits are never issued, under any special license reinstatement or work permit statutes under GA DUI laws.

Plus, any suspensions (administrative or criminal), and especially from being convicted of DUI in Georgia, once received from GA DDS by a non-resident’s DMV, DPS, BMV or similar drivers’ license agency, will cause either a license revocation or a license suspension in that home state.

Call the Atlanta DUI law firm of William C. Head, PC and request your FREE case review. Our DUI lawyers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us at (404) 556-5515 today.

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in Cobb County, GA:
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