In Georgia, it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle when your ability to drive has been impaired by the use of alcohol or drugs, or if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher.
The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt several things in order to win a conviction against you for DUI. Each element is equally important but some are easier to prove than others.
In order for you to be convicted, the state must prove that you were:
1) driving or in physical control of a motor vehicle
The police can charge you with DUI if they see you driving or even if they don’t but, they have reason to believe that you are in control of a vehicle. Even if you are just sitting in the driver’s seat you could risk being arrested for DUI.
2) that you had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more
When a police officer pulls you over or stops you at a road block, many times they will ask you to consent to a breath test. They are doing this to get you to help them prove that you are over the legal limit.
Georgia has an implied consent law, which is explained in another post, that may affect your driver’s license if you decline to participate in the police’s breath test.
3) within 3 hours of driving
You can be arrested and charged with DUI even if you weren’t driving at the time the police confronted you. If the police suspect that you had been driving or in physical control within the last three hours of being over the legal limit they may charge you with DUI.
Often the police will touch the hood of your car to feel if the engine is warm. This may be evidence that you had been operating the car within the last 3 hours.
4) that you were a less safe driver
This means that you were under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it was less safe for you to operate a motor vehicle than if you were not impaired. The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were so impaired by alcohol that it adversely affected your ability to operate a motor vehicle at the time of arrest.
It is not enough that you drank an alcoholic beverage and were affected to just any extent whatsoever.
The state must prove that you had impaired driving ability as the result of drinking alcohol. Impaired driving ability depends solely upon an individual’s response to alcohol. Everyone responds to alcohol differently. Just having alcohol in your system does not necessarily mean that you were an impaired driver.
“DUI less safe” is usually charged during a traffic stop for speeding, failure to maintain lane, some other traffic offense, or even a brake light being out.
This is where what an officer notices about you is important. The officer may ask if you have consumed any alcohol. They may also ask you to perform field sobriety tests. What you say and how you perform WILL most likely be used against you. I will discuss field sobriety tests in another post.