1. Less Safe Driver Definition
If you are charged as a "less safe" driver, the prosecuting witness will have to prove that you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, glue or a combination of same to the extent that you are less safe to drive as a result of such consumption. The officer typically makes his case by testifying as to any physical manifestation you exhibit (e.g. odor of alcohol, bloodshot glassy eyes, unsteady on your feet, slurred speech), or by any unsafe driving maneuver.
2. Per Se Definition
To be charged as a "per se" violation, you either must have an unlawful blood alcohol level (see below for limits) or any amount of contraband drugs. Keep in mind that the prosecuting witness would not have to prove that you were a less safe driver. He would only have to prove that you had either an unlawful blood alcohol level or any amount of contraband drugs in your system.
Most people believe that you have to have the magic 0.08 blood alcohol level in order to be convicted of DUI. Nothing could be further from the truth. Georgia law provides that if you test 0.05 or less, then a jury or other trier of fact may infer that you are not a less safe driver. However, if the prosecutor can show through proper evidence that you indeed were a less safe driver due to alcohol consumption, then you could be convicted.
The law further provides that if you test between 0.05 and 0.08, there is no inference one way or the other that you are a less safe driver.
Per Se (Unlawful) Blood Alcohol Levels
Being "per se" in violation of the DUI statute means you either have an unlawful blood alcohol level or you have a prohibited substance in your system (e.g. cocaine metabolites).
Under Age 21
If you are under 21 years of age, an alcohol reading of 0.02 is a "per se" violation of the DUI statute.
If you were operating a commercial vehicle when you were stopped and your blood alcohol level is 0.04, then you are "per se" in violation of the DUI statute.
Over Age 21
If you are 21 years of age or older and test 0.08, then you are "per se" in violation of the DUI statute.
Keep in mind that in order for you to be found guilty of a "per se" violation, the prosecutor must first be able to tender the reading into evidence. If the reading is allowed into evidence, and if the jury believes it is an accurate reading, no evidence regarding being a less safe driver is required to convict. However, this is easier said than done and is a good reason for you to hire an experienced DUI attorney to determine if the reading is admissible in court.
For more information call the Law Office of Alex M. Brown at 706-447-6994 to determine the best course of action for your situation!