After a fun night out in downtown Woodstock, the police greet you with blue lights in your rear view mirror. You may ask yourself, if I do not submit to a blood alcohol test or “blow” can I still be charged with DUI? Yes. As criminal defense attorneys we can help you challenge the charges, but it is important to understand the law of DUI is complicated and there are several different ways you can be charged for the same offense of Driving Under the Influence.
If you agree to take the State’s test after the police arrest you and the test comes back (either by breath or by blood) over the legal limit of 0.08, the State will charge you with DUI Alcohol “Per Se”. The “Per Se” is a legal term meaning “by law.” You are charged with driving a moving vehicle with a blood alcohol level over the limit set by state statute. Officers can also get a search warrant for your blood if you do not agree to take the test and officers in Cherokee County sometimes take this route. If this comes back over the legal limit you can also be charged with that same per se DUI.
However, you can be charged with DUI even if the State does not have a number for your blood alcohol content. This kind of DUI is called a “less safe” DUI, because the State in these cases has to prove that you were a “less safe” driver as a result of the alcohol you consumed. Technically all DUI’s start out as a less safe because a police officer on the side of the road can’t know your BAC before he arrests you, and no, the roadside breathalyzers don’t count. An officer can not arrest you for DUI unless he has probable cause to believe you are under the influence of alcohol to extent you are a less safe driver. So the officer actually arrests you for a less safe DUI and a per se gets added later if they get a number.
Sometimes DUI charges are brought whether you submit to the state test or not. As criminal defense attorneys, we are skilled at challenging both less safe and per se DUI charges. In Less Safe DUI’s, the evidence is more opinion based which is beneficial if you try your case. In a per se DUI, we may be able to get a BAC number thrown out for any of a number of technical reasons and the case will have to proceed as a less safe from that point onward. If the police charge you with DUI, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.
Archie Speights is a co-founder and lead criminal law attorney of Speights Law in Cherokee County. He is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who handles an assortment of major felony cases, including murder, sex crimes, aggravated assault, and drug crimes in the state of Georgia.