Drugged Driving

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in Georgia

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in Gwinnett County, GeorgiaMost people are aware that it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol in Georgia but the laws are just as severe for driving under the influence of drugs – and not just recreational drugs.

If a police officer suspects that your driving is impaired from the use of drugs – including prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs – you can be arrested and charged with DUI.

As unfair as that may seem, the charge is serious and can leave you with a lifelong criminal record.

Regardless of the evidence against you, simply accepting that you are guilty can have far-reaching implications for your future. With the help of an experienced DUI attorney many people successfully defend against DUI charges and escape without a conviction.

With the help of the team at the Law Office of Adam D. Brown, you can defend the charge, ensuring that your rights and freedoms are protected.

Are DUI drugs charges different from DUI alcohol charges in Georgia?

Georgia Title 40 O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391 deals with driving under the influence of “alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances.” In short there are six flavors of DUI in Georgia. Here, we will only discuss the first four types of DUI’s. The 5th type of DUI deals with “DUI Per Se” and the 6th and final flavor of DUI was found unconstitutional as applied in Love v. State, 271 Ga. 398 (1999). 

They are stated as the following:

  • A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while:

    (1) Under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;

    (2) Under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;

    (3) Under the intentional influence of any glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;

    (4) Under the combined influence of any two or more of the substances specified in paragraphs (1) through (3) of this subsection to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;

Note the term “less safe” is used for both drugs and alcohol DUIs. It is an important term as this is the criteria used for gauging whether your driving is impaired.

What evidence are police officers looking for in DUI drug cases? 

A great deal of observation and interpretation of the law is involved in DUI drug cases. Much rests on the discretion of the police officers if you are stopped and suspected of impaired driving.

While many officers in Georgia have little to no training to identify drug use, many do. At base level, most officers have been trained in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) “Standardized Field Sobriety Testing” (SFST) course. 

The mid-level training that officer’s go through is called” Advanced Roadside Impairment Driving Enforcement” (ARIDE). The highest level of training is called “Drug Recognition Expert” (DRE).

It is important for your attorney to have completed the same coursework as the officers. In addition to maintaining his Registered Nurse license, attorney Adam Brown has completed the same coursework as DUI Drug officers (SFST, ARIDE, and DRE courses).

What tests are used in drug DUIs?

Drugs affect your body in different ways than alcohol. Field sobriety tests are designed for testing alcohol consumption rather than drugs but police officers still request them.

Your defense lawyer may be able to call into question the accuracy of such tests used in a drug DUI case, especially if the police officer did not follow the strict protocols attached to administering these tests.

The only way to prove drug use is with a blood or urine test and even urine tests can be unreliable. Chemical tests are generally conducted at the police station and, if you refuse, you can still be charged and convicted.

Remember, the state does not have to prove that you had a particular level of drugs in your system – only that your driving was impaired by drug use. 

However, if traces of a drug are found in your system, you are not automatically guilty of DUI. 

With marijuana use, for instance, there are several types of chemicals (metabolites) that can be found in your blood. One of those metabolites is psychoactive (and may affect your ability to drive), but the others are inactive. One is active (and may affect your ability to drive) but the other is inactive. The active chemicals leave the blood after a few hours while the inactive ones may remain for weeks.

If no chemical test results are gathered, the prosecution may provide other evidence of impairment. For instance:

  • Erratic driving
  • The presence of drugs in your vehicle
  • Admission of drug use
  • Personal appearance (e.g., bloodshot eyes)
  • Slurred or disoriented speech
  • Poor field sobriety test performance

It is important not to say too much and not admit drug use if you are stopped by police on suspicion of impaired driving.

What are the penalties for DUI drug convictions?

It is extremely important to defend a DUI drug charge because the consequences of a conviction in Georgia are severe – even for a first conviction. 

The minimum penalties are as follows (actual penalties can be much harsher):

  • 24 hours in jail 
  • Fine of $300 – $1,000
  • 12 months on probation
  • 40 hours of community service
  • Mandatory attendance at DUI School (Risk Reduction Program)
  • A clinical drug evaluation 
  • Suspension of driver’s license for at least six months

At the Law Office of Adam D. Brown, we will work to keep these penalties to an absolute minimum if we cannot get the charges against you dismissed or achieve an acquittal.

Negotiating with the prosecution is vital for keeping the penalties as manageable as possible and we can potentially help you retain some driving privileges with a limited permit.

What are the penalties for a second conviction? 

A second DUI drug conviction within 10 years will be treated more harshly by the Georgia courts. 

The minimum penalties are as follows:

  • 72 hours in jail (up to one year)
  • Fine of $600 – $1,000
  • 12 months on probation
  • 30 days of community service
  • Mandatory attendance at DUI School (Risk Reduction Program)
  • Clinical drug evaluation  
  • Suspension of driver’s license for up to 18 months (including a “hard suspension” period with no limited permits)

What are the penalties for driving under the influence of Marijuana?

By far the most common drug-related DUI in Georgia involves marijuana usage. Enhanced penalties will apply and increase with subsequent offenses within a ten year look-back period. Enhanced license suspensions will occur for subsequent offenses within a five year look-back period.

Penalties are also more serious if you were transporting a child under age 14 while under the influence of drugs or if your driving resulted in an accident that caused serious injuries or the death of another person.

Contact the Law Office of Adam D. Brown Today

If you have been charged with a drug DUI in Georgia, our experience can help you preserve your freedoms and your driving privileges.

Contact us today at (404) 418-6395 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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