How can the police charge you with a DUI if they don't have any evidence of your blood alcohol content?
You may be thinking, that if you don't submit to a chemical test, then there is no way that the state could convict you for a DUI, but that is not the case. This is because in Georgia, it is not only against the law to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, but it is also against the law to be under the influence of alcohol, and drive less safe because of the alcohol. This is known as a “less safe” DUI.
In Georgia, it is a per se violation to be in control of a motor vehicle if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. For commercial driver's the per se BAC limit is 0.04%, and for driver's under the age of 21, the limit is only 0.02% BAC. These are the BAC numbers for per se drunk driving violations. However, for someone who has a BAC under those limits, or even if they never submitted to any chemical test, the state can still prosecute them for a less safe DUI, based on the police officer's observations that the driver was impaired.
How the Police and Prosecutors Prove “Less Safe” Impairment
The whole purpose of police officer's gathering evidence of a driver's impairment is to justify their DUI arrest, and to later be used against the driver in court to get a conviction. The police will try and get as much evidence as possible, to make it easier for the prosecutor to get a conviction or convince the driver to just plead guilty. In spite of the evidence against you, you need to understand that a DUI arrest does not have to mean a conviction. There are many ways an experienced Georgia DUI defense lawyer can get evidence thrown out, or get charges reduced or dismissed. Don't make a decision that will impact the rest of your life before talking to someone who exclusively handles DUI defense in the Atlanta area.
Some of the primary evidence the police are looking to gather in a DUI case include: erratic driving; the smell of alcohol on the driver; driver's admitting to drinking or coming from a bar; slurred speech; failed field sobriety tests; and a positive BAC reading on a field breathalyzer test.
Implied Consent Law
Even though field breathalyzer tests are voluntary and there is no need to do them, once you are arrested and taken to the police station, the law requires you to give a blood or breath sample. This is because of the implied consent laws. According to Georgia law, by virtue of driving on Georgia roadways, you are considered to have given implied consent to offer a chemical sample if you arrested for a DUI. There are penalties for refusing to submit to a blood or breath test. Even without a finding of drunk driving, your license will be administratively suspended for a full year. On top of that, the prosecutor will likely still bring charges against you for a “less safe” DUI, based on the arresting officer's observations.
Georgia Less Safe DUI Defense
A “less safe” DUI should be treated differently from a per se DUI charge. It is important to talk to a DUI defense lawyer who knows the difference, and how to defend each and every charge. The attorneys at Lawson and Berry have spent their career focused on defending their clients charged with Atlanta DUIs. They have even undergone the same training as the Georgia State Patrol to detect drunk drivers, and will use that training to defend your rights in court. Don't delay, and call our office today so we can discuss your case, and how we can get the charges reduced or dismissed entirely.