Georgia DUI “Less Safe” Charges

Our Georgia DUI lawyers are prepared to defend you against the most common DUI charge – the Georgia DUI “less safe” charge.
A common type of Georgia DUI charge that our Georgia DUI lawyers defend is known as a DUI “less safe” charge. In most cases where our clients are charged with only DUI less safe, that charge arises as a result of an alleged refusal of the state-administered blood, breath, or urine test in connection with their arrest for DUI. A refusal of the state-administered breath test can create a very defensible case because the state is deprived of the piece of evidence that most heavily rely upon to show impairment – the state-administered blood, breath, or urine test. Although a refusal of the state-administered blood, breath, or urine test may have very harsh ramifications on a driver’s license or privilege to drive in the state of Georgia, we have an excellent record of obtaining dismissals and reductions of charges in DUI refusal cases.

In Georgia, you can be charged with DUI despite the fact that your BAC was less than .08. You can also be charged with DUI in Georgia if you refuse to allow the state to test your blood, breath, or urine. If your BAC was less than .08 or you refused the blood, breath, or urine test and the state decides to go forward with the charge of DUI against you, you will be charged under Georgia’s DUI less safe law.

To illustrate how juries typically make a determination as to whether the evidence shows that a person was “less safe” for the purposes of a Georgia DUI less safe charge, consider the following jury charge on DUI less safe:

To prove the offense of Driving Under the Influence, the State need not prove that the defendant intended to commit the offense of driving under the influence, but the State must prove the defendant’s condition of being under the influence of alcohol to the extent of impairment and, while in this condition, the intent to drive. This general intent may or may not be inferred from the conduct of the accused and other circumstances.

It shall be unlawful for any person while under the influence of alcohol to drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle anywhere within this state. A driver or operator of a motor vehicle is under the influence of alcohol when the person is affected by alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive than it would be if the person were not affected by alcohol. A driver who is less safe is less efficient, less skillful, less coherent, less able, less qualified, and less proficient.

In deciding this issue, you may consider anything in the evidence that you find relevant in deciding whether defendant was a less safe driver. Specifically as to consumption of alcohol, you may consider, among other factors, the smell or lack of smell of alcoholic beverages on the defendant’s breath and/or her person and whether any test indicated the presence of alcohol in the defendant’s system. As to whether the defendant was less safe to drive, you may consider the factors you deem relevant, including, but not limited to, the actual manner of driving the motor vehicle; the defendant’s control of her mental and/or physical abilities; the defendant’s demeanor; and the physical condition of defendant. Merely showing that the defendant had been drinking or that there was the smell of alcohol on the defendant’s breath or person without proof of the manner of driving or the ability to drive is insufficient to prove that the defendant was guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol.

DUI drugs charges are most commonly as DUI less safe charges.

To sustain a conviction of DUI-less safe, it is not sufficient to show merely that Head was driving after having ingested, at some point in time, alprazolam and cocaine. Rather, the state must prove that Head “was a less safe driver as a result of being under the influence of [these drugs].” (Citation and punctuation omitted; emphasis in original.) Ricks v. State, 255 Ga.App. 188, 190, 564 S.E.2d 793 (2002). See also State v. Ellison, 271 Ga.App. 898, 902(3)(b), 611 S.E.2d 129 (2005) (“Mere presence of [drugs] is not the issue…. [T]he [s]tate must prove that the defendant had impaired driving ability as a result of [the drugs].”) (Punctuation and footnote omitted); Bowen v. State, 235 Ga.App. 900, 901-902, 510 S.E.2d 873 (1999). Cf. State v. Rish, 295 Ga.App. 815, 816, 673 S.E.2d 259 (2009) ( “If the evidence shows only that a driver is intoxicated and does not show that his consumption of alcohol [or drugs] has impaired his ability to drive, there is no probable cause to arrest for DUI-less safe.”).
Head v. State, 303 Ga.App. 475, 693 S.E.2d 845 (2010).

Experienced Georgia DUI lawyers recognize that there are favorable Georgia DUI cases which define “less safe” in a manner that is beneficial to our clients. Nonetheless, whatever definition is used, skilled Georgia DUI lawyers recognize that multiple pieces of evidences must be analyzed in order to successfully defend a Georgia DUI “less safe” charge.

Georgia DUI lawyers that successfully defend DUI “less safe” charges look at a multitude of factors, not simply an officer’s account of the clients performance on standardized field sobriety tests. Our Georgia DUI lawyers have successfully completed the 24-hour NHTSA standardized field sobriety test administration course, but our Georgia DUI lawyers recognize that field sobriety tests are often not where the fight over whether a driver is “less safe” should be waged.

Contact our Georgia DUI lawyers today to learn more about our proven methods of defending DUI “less safe” charges.

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