DUI Less Safe in Georgia

DUI Less Safe in Georgia

DUI Less Safe

DUI Less Safe laws in Georgia allow law enforcement to arrest drivers that are below the legal .08% BAC standard applicable to a traditional DUI charge.

What Does DUI Less Safe Mean?

DUI Less Safe effectively means law enforcement can arrest you for DUI any perception of impaired driving. This could be based on erratic driving believed to be caused by minor drinking, marijuana, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, etc.

The Georgia law for DUI less safe allows for the arrest of a driver for a version of DUI, even if the driver’s BAC is less than the Georgia BAC limit of.08%. The Less Safe statute specifies, "… a person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, or any drug, to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive…"

DUI Less Safe Drugs

DUI Less Safe is often applied for impaired driving based on suspected substance use. This charge covers a wide range of substances known to cause mental or physical impairment. Drivers often make it easy to be charged with Less Safe by admitting substance use, having possession of drug paraphernalia, or having clothes or a vehicle that smells like marijuana. The FindLaw website states, "Many prescription and over-the-counter medications will have an effect on your coordination, motor skills, and more – even when you take the prescribed dosage." 1

Per Georgia law O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391(6), which addresses DUI Per Se, the presence of THC (an element of cannabis/marijuana) can be cause to arrest a driver for driving under the influence. Georgia specifies that it is unlawful to drive when there exists "any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance as defined by Georgia law present in the driver’s blood or urine."

CBD Products are legal for sale in Georgia; however, because it contains THC it could show up on a blood test. This alone could be used to justify the Less Safe charge.

Criminal Liability can be applied for driving under the influence of controlled substances. This includes prescription and over-the-counter substances such as sleeping aids, opiates, hallucinogens, blood pressure medicines, muscle relaxers, pain medication, and illegal drugs.

DUI Per Se (Alcohol)

A charge of per se DUI may be levied against a person (driver) who has been confirmed to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. It’s worth mentioning that the BAC threshold to meet DUI standards is much lower for drivers under 21 years old (.02%). The BAC threshold for commercial vehicle drivers is also very low (.04%).

The DUI Less Safe Law in Georgia

O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391(a)(1) states (in part) that a person shall not "drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive." Read the full version of Georgia DUI laws.

"Less safe" means that the driver is less safe to drive as a result of consuming alcohol before or while driving in comparison to not having ingested any drugs or alcohol.

A less safe DUI can be proven in three ways:

  • Direct evidence of erratic driving, like an accident or weaving,
  • Circumstantial evidence of less safe driving inferred from standardized field sobriety tests,
  • Circumstantial evidence of a driver’s appearance and/or demeanor, i.e., odor of alcohol, unsteadiness, staggering, stumbling or slurred speech.

Don’t Lose Your Driver’s License!

We will make preserving your driving privileges a top priority. In Georgia, per the DUI 30-day rule, revocation of your driver’s license will be automatic unless specific actions are taken within 30 days.

If you have been arrested on the charge of DUI Less Safe, you or your lawyer must request an (Administrative License Suspension) ALS Hearing, (and pay a filing fee) within 30 days of your arrest date. If a formal hearing request is not filed your driver’s license is subject to suspension for up to one year. This is a very critical and time-sensitive matter.

DUI Less Safe Punishments

A DUI Less Safe is prosecuted in much the same manner as a regular per se DUI. A DUI arrest process includes being booked into jail. You are normally allowed to post bond and be released with a requirement for a future court appearance. If you have aggravating factors such as obstruction, evading or eluding, resisting arrest, or other charges it can complicate your situation.

How Likely is Jail Time for a First DUI?

For a first DUI in Georgia the potential punishments include: 12 months unsupervised probation, community service, Risk Reduction Program, fine/court costs, up to 10 days in jail. Most first time DUI convictions, with no other charges, do not result in jail time.

The Nolo.com website offers this information, "The penalties for a DUI are dependent on the number of prior convictions the driver has that occurred within the last ten years. The court will order the offender to complete 12 months of probation less any time spent in jail." 2

First Offense

  • Possible jail time up to one year
  • Fine of $300 minimum, up to $1,000
  • License suspension of up to one year
  • 40 hours of community service, minimum mandatory
  • $210 license reinstatement fee

Second Offense Within Five Years Of First Offense

  • Minimum mandatory 48 hours in jail, possible 90 days to one year
  • Fine of $600 minimum, up to $1,000
  • License suspension of three years
  • Minimum 30 days community service
  • $210 set license reinstatement fee
  • A mandatory clinical evaluation and, if indicated, completion of a substance abuse
  • treatment program at the offender’s expense

Third Offense Within Five Years Of Second Offense

  • Minimum mandatory 15 days jail time
  • Fine of $1,000 minimum, up to $5,000
  • License revocation for five years
  • Minimum mandatory 30 days community service
  • Declared as habitual violator, the license plate for his/her vehicle will be seized by the sent to the court and forwarded to the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety
  • Face a mandatory clinicalevaluation and, if indicated, completion of substance abuse treatment program at the offender’s expense

Related Consequences

Ignition Interlock Device

"The court shall order a person convicted of impaired driving to have an ignition interlock device attached to his/her vehicle for second and subsequent offenses within five (5) years, unless the court exempts the person due to financial hardship. This is required for any vehicle that is operated by the offender for a period of six (6) months."

"In addition to court-imposed penalties, drivers between the ages of 15-21 who are convicted of impaired driving must delay obtaining their graduated license for 12 months. The BAC level for DUI for persons under 21 has been established at .02, while the level for adults is .08." 3

If you have been charged with DUI or DUI Less Safe, you should contact our DUI defense lawyers in Cherokee County. We can promptly schedule a consultation to discuss your legal rights, option, and possible outcomes. Call us at 770-956-1400.


  • 1 FindLaw Team, “You Can Get a DUI on Legal Drugs”, October 2, 2018, Available from FindLaw
  • 2 Staff Writer, "Georgia DUI Laws and Penalties", June 19, 2023, Available from NOLO.com
  • 3 Staff Writers, "Impaired Driving Laws", February 14, 2023, Available from GA Highway Safety
  • Photo by AUTHOR, available at Pixabay
Jimmy Duncan
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