What Is the Legal Limit for DUI in Georgia?

A police officer holds a breath test machine in his hand ready at a traffic stop with his patrol car in the background.*the officer was blurred on purpose to place focus on the mouth piece. Concept for What Is the Legal Limit for DUI in Georgia?

After a traffic stop on suspicion of DUI, the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in your blood usually determines how the officer will file the official charges associated with a driving under the influence of alcohol arrest. One method of bringing a DUI allegation is to charge a per se violation. A per se violation is a DUI charge based solely upon the blood alcohol concentration obtained by the chemical testing performed by the State. Georgia law establishes three legal limits for DUI that apply in different circumstances.

Every driver should know that the police will first arrest the accused for a DUI Less Safe. After arrest, a warrant will be applied for and obtained, or the police will read the Georgia Implied Consent warning seeking a blood, breath, or urine test. The legality of such testing is not the subject of this article. Assuming the testing was legally obtained and the samples provided were properly tested, the chemical test, if over the legal limit, will typically result in an additional count or charge of DUI being added onto the accused's charges. If you face a Georgia drunk driving charge, representation by a knowledgeable DUI lawyer is essential to protecting your rights, regardless of the situation.

Legal Limits of BAC for a Georgia DUI Charge

The Blood Alcohol Concentration results (BAC) indicate the percentage of alcohol present in your blood. The Georgia DUI law establishes three different legal limits for BAC for different drivers. For most drivers, a BAC of 0.08% is a DUI per se violation, which means the BAC alone is sufficient evidence to support a DUI charge. For commercial drivers, a lower limit of 0.04% applies.

Georgia has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the legal drinking age of 21 years. For those drivers, the BAC legal limit is 0.02%.

How Do You Know If You Are Over the Limit?

Many drivers wonder how many drinks they can have before reaching the limit or otherwise know whether they are over the legal limit. The problem with that approach is that there is no way to know with certainty whether your BAC is under the legal limit at any point. You do not know what your BAC level is until you receive the test results.

The amount a person can drink and be under the limit varies depending on medical conditions, metabolism, and other factors. These are some of the issues that can form a defense to attack a per se case. The BAC level fluctuates over time and is affected by a wide range of factors for every individual, which include:

  • Body weight
  • Gender
  • Type of alcohol
  • Timeframe (length) of consumption
  • Number of drinks
  • Individual metabolism rate
  • Medications
  • Food

It is important to keep in mind that nothing can lower a BAC except time. Contrary to popular opinion, drinking water or coffee or eating food does not sober you up any faster. Trying to judge whether you are under the legal limit based on how you feel is also not a reliable way to determine your BAC.

In addition to the fact that there is no sure way to tell if you are under the limit, you can be charged with DUI in Georgia even if your BAC is under the limit or unknown.

Georgia DUI Without an Illegal BAC

As we discuss in a previous blog post, Georgia law establishes six different DUI violations for alcohol and drugs. One of them is DUI Less Safe, which does not require a breath, blood, or urine test to determine BAC. The charge can be supported by evidence demonstrating that it was less safe for the person to drive, based on how the person was driving and acting.

Facts supporting a DUI Less Safe for alcohol charge may include police observance of unsafe driving, field sobriety tests, the driver’s appearance or demeanor, and other relevant evidence. This charge may be used when there is refusal to submit to a test. Due to the nature of the charge and usually the absence of BAC test results, DUI Less Safe is the most commonly tried type of DUI case in Georgia.

Defending Against a DUI Charge

Regardless of what type of DUI charge you face, getting help from a DUI defense attorney is essential. Even a first DUI charge has potentially severe penalties and consequences. Subsequent offenses after a conviction or guilty plea have much greater potential ramifications.

The circumstances of your arrest determine the best defenses for your case. No matter how the charge arose, an experienced DUI attorney has options and strategies for asserting a vigorous defense and minimizing the impact of the charge on your life. Do not ever attempt to represent yourself in a DUI charge. Talk to an attorney before you make any decision about proceeding.

Talk with an Experienced Georgia DUI Defense Lawyer

Our criminal and DUI defense lawyers at The McCoy Law Firm, LLC have decades of experience representing defendants facing DUI charges in northwest Georgia. If you need representation on a DUI charge, please call (770) 382-0984 or contact Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia, so we can begin working on your case right away.

Categories: Criminal Defense, DUI