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Georgia DUI “Less Safe”

by | Sep 14, 2015 | 0 comments

What is DUI “Less Safe”?

Have you been charged with DUI “Less Safe”? Are you wondering if this means this is a lesser form of DUI with lesser penalties? The charge of DUI “Less Safe” can be misleading. The relevant portion of the DUI statute is O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391(a)(1), which states:

(a) 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;

Thus, DUI “Less Safe” is a type of DUI and has the same consequences and penalties of what we might refer to as a typical DUI. The penalties don’t differ. In fact, the biggest difference between a DUI and DUI “Less Safe” is that you can be convicted of DUI “Less Safe” without taking any breathalyzer tests from the police.

Yes, that’s right. You can be convicted of DUI less safe without any proof that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was above the legal limit.

In being prosecuted for the charge of DUI “less safe”, the well-known BAC level of .08 or more does not have to be proven. The State may or may not have a chemical test result as evidence to support the charge. In fact, your BAC can be well below .08 and you can still be convicted of DUI “less safe.” Whether your BAC was above the legal limit does not matter in a DUI “less safe” case because convictions can be entirely supported by circumstantial evidence.

However, for DUI “less safe” cases, the prosecutor must still prove the biggest element of any DUI case — that the person was “under the influence of alcohol.” Again, this doesn’t mean that a BAC level test is necessary. DUI “less safe” can be proven by other factors that point to the influence of alcohol, including: erratic driving, field sobriety tests, odor of alcohol, and slurred speech.

Examples of circumstantial evidence leading to a DUI “less-safe” conviction include: (1) driver was passed out in another person’s driveway, behind the wheel of a parked car (Jenkins v. State, 223 Ga. App. 446, 478 S.E.2d 143 (1996) and (2) Driver sitting on a motorcycle parked on the edge of the highway (Hutto v. State, 259 Ga. App. 238, 576 S.E.2d 616 (2003).

Penalties for DUI “Less Safe”

DUI “Less Safe” is a misdemeanor with the following penalties:

  • A fine of not less than $300 and not more than $1000;
  • jail time ranging from 10 days to 12 months (the judge can decide to suspend jail time);
  • community service;
  • completion of a DUI alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program;
  • substance abuse treatment program (if recommended after a clinical evaluation); and
  • probation and fees.

If you’ve been charged with DUI “Less Safe”, it’s important that you explore all your options. Contact me today for a free consultation on how to reduce the charge, get it dismissed, or avoid harsher penalties. I’ll let you know the best option for your case.