There's a common misconception that driving under the influence (DUI) is only for drunk driving. Not many people realize that you could also face a DUI charge if you haven't been drinking, at all, but have been taking drugs.
However, to make things more complex, drugged driving in Georgia does not just come from using stereotypically illegal drugs, like heroin or marijuana. You could face a DUI charge for using any controlled substance – what they call a drug that's regulated by the government. This includes heroin and marijuana, but also prescription drugs as well.
Other examples of a controlled substance are cocaine, and cocaine base, also known as crack cocaine. Because these are controlled substances, being under the influence of one of them can lead to a DUI arrest and charge in Georgia.
Arrests and charges for drugged driving are very similar to those for drunk driving. They have the same criminal process and license suspension issues, and both have the same penalties, if you get convicted on the charges against you. However, the kind of evidence that can be used against you in trail are radically different.
If you get pulled over for drunk driving, you can count on being asked to take a breath test. If this shows that you have a blood alcohol content of at or above 0.08%, then you'll be arrested for drunk driving, and charged with DUI.
This changes significantly for drugged driving, because there is no easy way to test your system for drugs, like there is for alcohol. Instead, for a drugged driving stop, the police officer who pulls you over has a lot of discretion in guessing whether you're under the influence of a drug like cocaine. This can be really problematic, because if they get it wrong, and think you're under the influence when you're really not, you can be wrongfully arrested and taken to jail.
This is all because of Georgia's “zero tolerance” on drugs. While it's okay to drive after drinking a little bit of alcohol, you can't drive with any drugs in your system, not even a trace of a minuscule amount.
To make matters worse, drugged driving charges often lead to other drug-related offenses, like possession or trafficking. Hiring the best DUI defense specialist you can is huge in preventing things from getting worse, and can mean the difference between a DUI conviction and an acquittal. Call me to help start planning your defense: (404) 816-4440.