A Guide to Georgia’s DUI Less Safe Law

At Willis Law Firm, we understand that navigating the complexities of DUI laws can be challenging, especially when it comes to understanding the nuances of a “DUI less safe” charge. This type of DUI charge can be particularly perplexing because it does not require a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit to warrant a conviction. Instead, it focuses on whether the driver’s abilities were impaired by alcohol or drugs to the extent that they were less safe to drive.

In this blog post, we will delve into what constitutes a DUI less safe in Georgia, explore how it is different from other DUI charges, and discuss the implications it can have on your driving record and overall legal standing. Whether you are facing a DUI less match charge or are simply seeking to better understand this aspect of DUI law, this guide will provide you with the crucial insights needed to navigate the complexities of such cases. 

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Definition of DUI Less Safe

Under Georgia law, a DUI less safe charge is brought against drivers who are deemed to have been impaired by alcohol or drugs to the extent that it was less safe for them to drive. This is outlined in O.C.G.A § 40-6-391(a)(1), which states that a person shall not drive under any substance that makes it “less safe” for the person to drive. Importantly, this charge does not require the prosecution to prove that the driver’s BAC was over the legal limit of 0.08%. Instead, the focus is on the driver’s level of impairment as observed by law enforcement or evidenced by their driving behavior.

Key Aspects of DUI Less Safe

In DUI less safe cases, law enforcement officers rely heavily on their observations to bring charges. These observations might include signs of impaired driving such as weaving, erratic braking, or delayed reactions to traffic signals. Other indicators such as the smell of alcohol on the breath, slurred speech, and poor performance on field sobriety tests also play a crucial role in these charges.

A significant aspect of DUI less safe charges is that they do not require breathalyzer or blood test results to be upheld. This is particularly relevant in situations where a breathalyzer test was refused, or where drugs, rather than alcohol, are suspected of causing impairment, making standard BAC tests ineffective.

In prosecuting a DUI less safe case, the challenge lies in proving impairment based solely on observed behavior and field sobriety test performance. Conversely, the defense has the opportunity to question the subjective nature of these observations and the specific circumstances surrounding the arrest.


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Greg and his team are absolutely incredible. Greg explained everything to me in detail, as this is the first ever time I have been arrested. Regular updates throughout the process which allowed me to get on with everyday life. 200% I would recommend Greg and his team to anyone with a DUI case."

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Importance of Having DUI Less Safe Law on the Books

The DUI less safe law in Georgia plays a vital role in ensuring road safety. By enabling officers to charge individuals based on visible signs of impairment, the law helps prevent accidents by removing potentially dangerous drivers from the roads. This approach broadens the legal scope by addressing the limitations of relying solely on blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels, which can be inadequate in cases involving drugs not detected by standard BAC tests.

Additionally, the DUI less safe law acts as a preventive measure, deterring individuals from driving after consuming any substance that might impair their driving ability. This encouragement of safer driving habits is crucial for overall traffic safety. Moreover, the law provides flexibility in prosecution, allowing prosecutors to charge impaired drivers even when technical defenses might challenge charges based solely on BAC levels. This adaptability ensures that impaired drivers face consequences, promoting justice and enhancing public safety.


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Penalties for DUI Less Safe in Georgia

The state of Georgia takes DUI offenses very seriously, and penalties can be severe, impacting not just your driving privileges but also having broader legal and personal consequences — and DUI less safe is not a less severe charge. 

In Georgia, the penalties for DUI less safe are primarily the same as those for a standard DUI conviction. However, it’s important to note that these penalties increase with each subsequent DUI offense within a ten-year period. Here is a breakdown of what you might expect upon conviction:

First DUI Conviction (including DUI less safe)

Jail Time: 24 hours to 1 year. However, jail time can often be negotiated or waived, except for a mandatory minimum of 24 hours if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was over 0.08%.

Fines: $300 to $1,000, plus court costs and surcharges.

Community Service: Minimum of 40 hours.

Probation: 12 months, minus any jail time served.

License Suspension: 12 months, with the possibility of early reinstatement after 120 days and completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program.

Other: DUI school and a clinical evaluation for substance abuse might be required.

Second DUI Conviction

Jail Time: 3 days to 1 year.

Fines: $600 to $1,000.

Community Service: Minimum of 240 hours.

Probation: Generally, 12 months.

License Suspension: 3 years, with potential for a limited driving permit after 12 months.

Other: Mandatory clinical evaluation and possible treatment for substance abuse, and installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.

Third DUI Conviction

Jail Time: 15 days to 1 year.

Fines: $1,000 to $5,000.

Community Service: Minimum of 240 hours.

Probation: Usually, 12 months.

License Suspension: 5 years, with the possibility of a probationary license after 2 years.

Other: Designation as a habitual violator, which comes with severe restrictions and potential forfeiture of vehicle.

Subsequent Offenses

Penalties increase further, and the individual faces stricter fines, longer jail times, and more extended periods of license suspension.

Impact of DUI Less Safe Penalties

The penalties for DUI less safe can extend beyond legal repercussions:

Employment: Convictions can result in job loss or difficulty in securing employment, particularly in jobs requiring driving.

Insurance Costs: Increased insurance premiums or the need for high-risk insurance.

Personal Relationships: Strain on personal relationships and social stigma.

Facing a DUI less safe charge can be daunting, and the potential penalties are significant. If you are charged with a DUI less with in Georgia, it is essential to seek competent legal representation immediately. An experienced DUI attorney can help navigate the complexities of your case, possibly reduce the severity of the penalties, and protect your rights throughout the process. 

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Common Defenses in DUI Less Safe Cases

Questioning the Officer’s Observations

Questioning the reliability of an officer’s observations can be a crucial defense strategy in DUI cases. The determination that someone is less safe to drive due to impairment is inherently subjective. The defense can challenge the officer’s claims, such as assertions of erratic driving or poor performance on field sobriety tests, by highlighting the potential lack of objectivity. Additionally, there are often external factors unrelated to impairment that can explain the observed behavior. Medical conditions, fatigue, or even stress can mimic signs of being under the influence, providing plausible explanations for the actions that led to the DUI charge.

Challenging Field Sobriety Tests

Challenging field sobriety tests can be an effective defense strategy due to the inherent inaccuracies and potential for errors in their administration. These tests are not infallible and can be argued to be fundamentally flawed, as they are not a definitive measure of impairment. Various factors, such as physical disabilities, road conditions, weather, and even the type of footwear worn by the individual, can unfairly influence the results, leading to inaccurate conclusions.

Moreover, the validity of the test results can be contested if it is demonstrated that the tests were not administered properly according to standardized procedures. Any deviation from the established protocols can compromise the accuracy of the results, providing a strong basis for challenging the evidence in court.

Disputing the Legality of the Traffic Stop

Disputing the legality of a traffic stop can be crucial in a DUI case. Under the Fourth Amendment, any traffic stop must be based on reasonable suspicion, and any subsequent DUI investigation requires probable cause. If these legal standards are not met, it may be possible to suppress any evidence collected during the stop. For instance, if the initial stop lacked reasonable suspicion or the investigation proceeded without probable cause, the evidence obtained could be deemed inadmissible, significantly impacting the case.

Introducing Alternate Explanations for Symptoms

Introducing alternate explanations for symptoms often attributed to impairment reveals the complexity of diagnosing certain behaviors. For instance, symptoms such as slurred speech, imbalance, or disorientation are not solely indicative of intoxication. Medical conditions such as diabetes, neurological disorders, or severe allergies can manifest in similar ways, causing significant misinterpretations. Additionally, environmental factors play a crucial role. Exposure to certain chemicals or a significant lack of sleep can mimic the signs typically associated with impairment, further complicating accurate diagnosis and understanding.

Timing of Observations Relative to Driving

In DUI cases, the timing of observations relative to driving can be crucial. A defense strategy might focus on a temporal disconnection, arguing that the observed impairment did not coincide with the actual time the defendant was driving. This is especially pertinent in situations where there is a notable time gap between when the defendant was last seen driving and when tests were administered or an arrest was made.

Each DUI less safe case is distinct, necessitating a defense that is tailored to the specific circumstances and evidence at hand. A thorough understanding of legal standards, combined with a strategic approach to challenging the prosecution’s evidence, can greatly influence the outcome of the case.

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Understanding the complexities of DUI less safe charges in Georgia is crucial for anyone facing such accusations. These charges can have serious repercussions on your life, affecting everything from your driving privileges to your professional reputation and personal relationships. At Willis Law Firm, we recognize the significant impact a DUI less safe charge can have and are committed to providing our clients with the robust defense and guidance they deserve.

Successfully defending against a DUI less safe charge requires a deep understanding of Georgia DUI law, meticulous attention to detail, and a proactive approach to challenging the evidence presented by the prosecution. 

If you or a loved one is facing a DUI less safe charge, do not wait to seek legal representation. The earlier you act, the more options you may have for a favorable outcome. Contact Willis Law Firm today to schedule a consultation. Our dedicated attorneys will review your case, explain your rights and options, and develop a tailored strategy to defend your interests. Let us help you protect your future and fight for the justice you deserve.

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