In Georgia, the laws regarding drinking and driving may seem simple enough for college students and residents to understand. If a driver's blood alcohol concentration is .08 or higher, the individual will automatically be arrested and charged with driving under the influence, even if the individual has no prior DUI arrests. But can a driver be arrested for DUI if his or her BAC is less than the state's legal limit of .08?
According to Georgia law, officers can arrest drivers who have been drinking even if they are not over the legal limit. However, officers must have a reason to believe that the driver could be dangerous on the road or not fully capable of operating his or her vehicle safely. This week, a University of Georgia student was arrested under these circumstances even though breath test results showed that her BAC was under the legal limit at the time of her arrest.
According to an Athens-Clarke County police report, the 21-year-old student was spotted driving over the fog line a couple of times on Barnett Shoals Road earlier this week. The officer who witnessed the incident reported that after driving over the fog line, the student then jerked her car to stay in the correct lane. When the officer approached the driver after pulling her over, he reported that he could smell alcohol.
At first, the student told the officer that she had not been drinking and that she was on her phone while driving. When the officer asked the student to take a breath test, she complied and blew a .07. The student then admitted to having one beer prior to driving. The driver then performed several field sobriety tests and was arrested. According to the officer, it was not safe for the woman to continue to operate her vehicle.
After arresting the woman, the officer conducted another breath test that concluded that the woman's BAC was only .044.
Source: The Athens Red and Black, "Crime Notebook - University student charged with DUI with .07 BAC," Joshua Johnson, Feb. 23, 2012