Contrary to what some people believe, laws against driving under the influence don’t only refer to alcohol. The police can also charge you with a DUI in Georgia if you show signs of impairment caused by drugs. These drugs can be illegal, prescribed by a doctor or even bought over the counter. As long as there is enough evidence of impairment, the courts in Georgia can convict you. Given the serious nature of a DUI charge, you need to hire a competent Georgia DUI lawyer to represent you.
There are two main ways in which the police can charge you with a drug-related DUI. The first is DUI-Drugs-Less-Safe. This means you’re impaired to such an extent that it is less safe for you to drive. The state doesn’t have to prove that you had a certain amount of drugs in your system to prosecute you in this way. Even if you opted not to take a chemical test, the state can still prove you’re guilty. In the absence of a test result, the prosecution may rely on:
- Admission of drug use
- Appearance (dilated or constricted pupils, bloodshot eyes,)
- Slurred speech
- Erratic driving
- Failure of the field sobriety test
- The presence of drugs in your vehicle
Even if you’re legally allowed to use a drug, you can still be charged with DUI-Drugs-Less-Safe. Saying a doctor prescribed the drug or that it was just a cough medicine isn’t a defense.
If you take a chemical test and it shows you used drugs, you may face a charge of per se DUI-Drugs. Under the per se law, any amount of a controlled substance or marijuana is prohibited when driving. However, an exception is made for lawful drug use. If a doctor prescribed the drug you took, you can only be convicted if you were incapable of driving safely.
The per se law is, therefore, often only applied when drivers test positive for drugs that have no lawful use including heroin and cocaine. Regardless of which type of DUI you’re facing, you’ll need a skilled DUI lawyer in Atlanta, GA. This is the only way you’ll have a chance of fighting the charge.
Penalties You Can Face When Convicted
A DUI is usually a misdemeanor. The criminal penalties for driving under the influence of drugs are the same as those for alcohol-related DUI charges. However, the punishment will vary depending on whether it’s your first DUI offense or not. As a first-time offender, if you plead guilty to the charge or a court convicts you, you will face a fine of $1,000. You will also have to spend at least 24 hours in jail. Most first-time offenders get probation and community service, but you could spend up to a year of jail time. You can lose your driver’s license for up to one year. In addition, you will have to take part in a risk reduction program.
If it’s your second offense, the minimum amount of time you can spend in jail in 72 hours. However, you may still be able to get probation or community service. You will have to participate in a risk reduction program and get mandatory drug treatment. Also, your license could be suspended for up to three years and you may have to get an ignition interlock device.
For a third offense, you could spend at least 15 days in jail. You can lose your driver’s license for as many as five years. After that time, you will likely have to get an ignition interlock device. Community service, rehab, and probation are also possible consequences.
Fourth and subsequent DUIs are felonies. Offenders face a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of five years in jail. If found guilty, you may have to pay up to $5,000 in fines and you could lose your driver’s license permanently. Even harsher penalties may be imposed if you caused an accident or you were traveling with a child.
Contact Howard & Arca DUI Lawyers Today to Discuss Your DUI in Georgia
If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence of drugs, you must take the charges seriously. Without proper legal representation, your life could change significantly. DUI convictions are frowned upon by school admissions officers, employers and society as a whole. You need to contact the Georgia DUI lawyers at Howard & Arca. We will fight to ensure that you’re not wrongly convicted if you’re innocent. If you were indeed impaired, we’ll work to secure the best possible outcome. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.