The Six Different Types of DUI Charges in Georgia

Columbus Ga DUI Lawyer John Martin is often asked by clients about the law concerning driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Georgia.

In Georgia, there are six statutory ways that the State of Georgia can charge you with a DUI offense pursuant to Georgia Code § 40-6-391, Georgia’s Driving Under the Influence statute:

(1) Less Safe Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol: 

A person commits the offense of DUI less safe alcohol when that person being in physical control of any moving vehicle drive under the influence of alcohol to the extent it was less safe for that person to drive.

Note that there is no requirement that the individual commit an actual unsafe act; rather, the violation occurs when that person drives to the extent it was less safe for that person to drive. See Duren v. State, 252 Ga. App. 257 (2001).

(2) Less Safe Driving Under the Influence of  Drugs:

Driving under the influence of drugs or prescription drugs to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive is another manner of committing DUI in Georgia.

Concerning prescription drugs, the code states that a person commits DUI less safe drugs when that person is “rendered incapable of driving safely as a result of using a drug other than alcohol, which such person is legally entitled to use.” It does not matter then that the person has a prescription for the drug that makes him/her less safe to drive. See State v. Kachwalla, 274 Ga. 886 (2002). Further, the “incapable of driving safely” standard is identical to the “less safe to drive” standard as far as the evidence needed to convict. See Johnson v. State, 602 S.E.2d 177 (Ga. Ct. App. 2004)

(3) Per Se Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol 

Ordinary Drivers: when a person drives a motor vehicle and that person’s alcohol concentration is 0.08 grams or more at any time within three hours after driving, during driving, or after the driving ended.

Commercial Drivers: the amount of alcohol present for commercial drivers in the blood, breath or urine may not exceed 0.04.

Those Under 21: Those under 21 may not have more than 0.02 grams of alcohol in their blood, breath, or urine under Georgia’s DUI law.

(4) The Combined Influence of Two or More Specific Drugs – if your driving is less safe because you are under the influence of alcohol combined with any other drug, alcohol combined with aerosol or glue, or any drug and glue or aerosol, then you have committed DUI, according to the “combined influence” subsection of the DUI statute.

(5) Under the Influence of Glue, Aerosols, or Toxic Vapors

While a very rare charge, the Legislature recognized that a person could be impaired as a result of inhaling glue, aerosols or toxic vapors.  Presumably, this would have to be proved via blood test. 

(6) Under the Influence of Marijuana or a Controlled Substance Per Se

The Georgia DUI code provides that a driver cannot drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle when there is any amount of marijuana or any controlled substance as defined in OCGA 16-13-21, Georgia’s Controlled Substances Act.  The Georgia Supreme Court in Love v. State, 271 Ga. 398 (1999) struck down OCGA 40-6-391(a)(6) as unconstitutional at least as to marijuana under equal protection grounds due to a lack of relation between legal and illegal marijuana use.

However, this is actually a fairly common charge, especially when a blood test is given and the result comes back positive for THC (parent compound of marijuana) and THC-COOH (the marijuana metabolite). 

Your attorney should understand how to obtain the “supporting test data” from the GBI lab, and further understand how to analyze and argue the clients lack of impairment based on where the quantitative amounts register on the quantitative curve.  Assuming a client has not orally ingested  marijuana within the last 2 hours, his/her THC numbers will be fairly low and the attorney will have an excellent legal argument to seek a dismissal or reduction of the charge.