Many Georgia residents believe that they have nothing to fear from the police if they are driving with a blood alcohol level lower than the state’s .08 percent limit, but that may not always be the case. While driving with a blood alcohol level above the limit could lead to a DUI Per Se charge, a count of DUI Less Safe could be leveled against a motorist even if they have a blood alcohol level below .08 percent.
Georgia law forbids the operation of a motor vehicle when the driver is impaired to the point that their driving would be less safe. This charge may be filed when an apparently intoxicated motorist refuses to submit to a toxicology test or clearly demonstrates that their driving is impaired even when such a test finds their blood alcohol level to be below the .08 percent limit. However, the majority of DUI Less Safe charges are filed against drivers pulled over by a Georgia State Patrol task force known as the Nighthawks.
The reason for the Nighthawks’ use of the DUI Less Safe charge is their reliance on blood tests to establish a driver’s level of impairment. While blood tests are considered to be the most reliable form of toxicology test, the results may not be known for up to five weeks. This means that the evidence necessary to pursue a DUI Per Se charge is not immediately available, and a DUI Less Safe charge is filed pending the blood test results.
The methods used by the Nighthawks indicate how important an accurate measurement of a driver’s blood alcohol level is to the prosecution for a drunk driving case. However, even the accuracy of a blood test may be challenged by a criminal defense attorney in certain situations. These tests must be conducted according to strict protocols, and the results may be unreliable if the sample used is not handled correctly.
Source: Ledger Enquirer , “What is DUI Less Safe?”, MIke Owen, September 20, 2014