DUI Less Safe

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If you have questions about the DUI less safe statute, a criminal defense attorney could provide assistance and resources. Contact Philip Kim Law, P.C. for answers.


Author: Philip Kim, Founder, Philip Kim Law, P.C.

Defense lawyer Philip Kim has committed his career to standing up for the accused, and protecting the rights and reputations of his valued clients. If you face criminal charges in Georgia, we can provide you with the skilled, effective defense representation you need.

Published on December 30, 2022.


What Is DUI Less Safe?

One of the common misconceptions about Georgia DUIs is that a person can’t be charged with drunk driving if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is less than 0.08%. However, that is not true. Georgia has a “DUI Less Safe” law, meaning a driver can be convicted of drunk driving even if their BAC is less than 0.08 grams.

What’s worse, when it comes to related penalties, there is almost no distinction between a DUI less safe and a standard DUI.

If you were pulled over and it is determined that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it’s crucial to contact a Georgia DUI lawyer so they can protect your rights.

What Does DUI Less Safe Mean?

Georgia drivers can be convicted of DUI if they were operating or in control of a vehicle:

  • While being under the influence of any amount of illegal or prescription drugs

  • With a BAC over the legal limit

  • While impaired by alcohol or drugs (DUI less safe)

Having a BAC over the legal limit means having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more for drivers older than 21, 0.04% or more for drivers of commercial vehicles, and 0.02% or more for drivers younger than 21.

While standard DUI can be measured, “less safe” means that the driver is impaired, which means that, in comparison to not having ingested any drugs or alcohol, the driver is less safe to operate a vehicle.

As a result, any individual with an elevated BAC is presumed to be under the influence and, furthermore, can be convicted of DUI without any concrete proof of impairment.

What Does a DUI Less Safe Georgia Statute Say?

Under Georgia’s DUI less safe statute, an individual must not be in actual physical control of a vehicle or driving while being under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other substance to the extent that would make them less safe to drive.

When law enforcement officer pulls someone over, they have several ways to determine whether the driver is less safe to drive. In fact, evidence of DUI less safe is mostly based on the arresting officer’s conclusions and observations of drivers and their demeanor when pulled over.

For example, if the police officers have witnessed erratic driving, they can use that as evidence. They can also use circumstantial evidence of a driver’s appearance, such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, lack of balance, or odor of drugs or alcohol.

Whether the driver is less safe to drive can also be inferred from standardized field sobriety tests, which usually include the one-leg stand, the walk and turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test.

How Are DUI Less Safe Drugs Proved?

DUI less safe drugs work similarly to DUI less safe alcohol. In other words, the State of Georgia has to prove that the use of drugs makes the driver impaired and less safe to drive.

It doesn’t matter if the drug in question is an illegal controlled substance or a prescription drug. Mixing drugs with alcohol can even make DUI less safe. Taking the drug according to the directions of use is not a viable defense, either.

What Are DUI Alcohol Less Safe Penalties?

DUI less safe can result in harsh penalties. Their severity can depend on the circumstances of the offense and the convicted driver’s criminal history.

When the driver’s BAC exceeds the legal limit, they will have to spend 24 hours in jail. If not, there is no minimum jail sentence. Upon conviction, drivers may be sentenced to up to one year in county jail.

First-time DUI less safe offenders must serve 5 days of community service (40 hours) and attend at least 20 hours of a DUI school. Additionally, these drivers will be subject to a 12-month probationary period. In addition, convicted drivers will have to pay a number of court fees.

An administrative penalty for DUI less safe is a one-year suspension of the driver’s license.

Since penalties can be harsh, retaining a DUI lawyer who is knowledgeable about Georgia DUI laws and the DUI process can be beneficial to your DUI less safe case.

Variability in DUI Less Safe Penalties

The penalties for a DUI Less Safe conviction can vary significantly based on various factors, such as the number of prior offences and specific details of the case. For a first-time offense, penalties typically include a fine ranging from $300 to $1,000 and mandatory attendance at a DUI education program. However, repeat offenders face steeper consequences. A second offence within a ten-year period can lead to a minimum fine of $600. 

Moreover, the presence of aggravating factors, such as having a minor in the vehicle or causing an accident, can lead to enhanced penalties. These may include longer jail sentences, higher fines, and extended community service hours. Additionally, those with multiple DUI Less Safe convictions may be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

Overall, the complexity and severity of penalties underscore the importance of consulting with an experienced DUI attorney who can navigate the nuances of Georgia’s DUI laws and advocate for the best possible outcome in each case.

DUI Alcohol Less Safe vs. DUI: What Is the Difference?

If the driver is convicted of DUI per se, it means their BAC at the time of the arrest was over 0.08%. That also means the driver has to spend at least 24 hours in jail. That is not the case if it can’t be proven that the driver’s BAC was not over the legal limit.

However, the fines, DUI school requirements, probation period, and community service remain unchanged.

In addition, regarding driver’s license suspension by the Georgia Department of Drivers Services (DDS), there is no difference in whether someone is convicted of DUI per se or DUI less safe. If that is the first offense, drivers may be eligible for a limited permit as long as there are no other suspensions.

How to Beat a DUI Less Safe? Can a Lawyer Help?

Having a DUI attorney by your side can be crucial in fighting a DUI less safe charge. In these cases, the arresting officer will typically first place the driver under arrest and then determine whether they were impaired by drugs or alcohol in a way that makes them less safe to drive.

But, whether the driver is impaired or not is only an opinion formed by the arresting police officer. So, it has to be proved in court. The Georgia prosecutor has to be able to prove that the driver was, in fact, under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

There are several possible defenses experienced criminal lawyers in Lawrenceville can use. For instance, although an odor of alcohol does show that a driver most likely had consumed alcohol, it can be argued that it doesn’t necessarily mean they were impaired. Also, if the driver’s prescription drug levels were within “therapeutic” levels, it can be argued they weren’t under the influence after all.

Get in touch with Philip Kim Law, P.C., now to learn about the circumstances of your case and how you may be able to defend yourself from the harsh consequences of a less safe DUI conviction. Schedule a free consultation today!

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Philip Kim Law, P.C.
368 West Pike Street, Suite 203
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
(678) 203-6968
Fax: (678) 273-3501
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