What are the penalties for driving under the influence of drugs in Georgia?
Across Georgia, drunk driving arrests are on the decline, while drugged driving charges have skyrocketed. According to a recent 11Alive News investigation, Georgia now employs over 250 officers with drug recognition training. Officers have arrested several drivers on charges of drugged driving, only to have the charges later dismissed when toxicology reports were clean. Drugged driving charges can be difficult to defend against and the penalties for drugged driving are severe. Our Georgia drug DUI attorneys discuss how you can defend against drugged driving charges below.
Georgia’s Drugged Driving Laws
In the state of Georgia, you can be charged with a DUI if you are under the influence of any drug. Under the influence is legally defined as impaired to the point that it is considered less safe for you to drive. Unlike alcohol, drugged driving does not have a defined allowable limit. Even further, you can be charged with drugged driving for being under the influence of legally prescribed or even over the counter drugs.
Drugged driving charges are particularly dangerous for drivers because prosecutors need not prove a certain level of drugs in your system. Additionally, chemical tests may detect drugs that you took days, weeks, or even months before the arrest. Officers may be able to prove a drugged driving charge even with a clean chemical test using the following:
- Your admission that you took a drug
- Indicators of drug use, like bloodshot eyes
- Erratic driving
- Failing a field sobriety test
- Presence of drugs in your vehicle
Georgia has a per se drug law that prohibits drivers from operating a motor vehicle with any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance in their blood or urine. Recently, an exception was made by the Georgia Supreme Court for legal marijuana usage.
Penalties for drugged driving mirror those for drunk driving. If you are convicted of a drugged driving offense, you could potentially face suspension of your license, a minimum of 24 hours in jail, mandatory probation time, drug treatment, and harsh fines and fees. Your conviction will additionally become a part of your permanent record.
Defending Against Your Drugged Driving Charge
Your exact defense against a drugged driving charge will hinge on the facts surrounding the arrest and the alleged drug use. Potential defenses could include challenging the stop as unlawful or contesting evidence as to drug use. For drivers with a clean chemical test, there may be other legal reasons for the behavior witnessed by the officer, such as fatigue. Your attorney will review the facts surrounding the arrest to develop your strongest defense strategy. If you have been accused of driving under the influence of drugs, contact an experienced DUI attorney today.