Blood Alcohol Content
In Georgia, a driver may be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) either by driving or being in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or a controlled substance, to the extent that it is less safe for him or her to drive…or…per se, by driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams* or more any time within three (3) hours after driving from alcohol consumed before that driving ended (*This value is different if the driver is under 21 or driving a commercial vehicle at the time. See here and here for distinctions).
The chemical testing of a driver’s BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) is scientific, and therefore more reliable than the officer’s suspicions or subjective determinations of impairment based on the results of any Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). However, to be admissible, the test must be administered properly, and as mentioned elsewhere on this site, many physical and environmental conditions such as acid reflux, electronic interference, or the presence of mouthwash or mints, for example, may cause these results to appear higher than they should. As a skilled Canton DUI attorney, I can help you determine if the tests were administered properly.
The most common way that the police administer chemical tests of a driver’s BAC (blood alcohol content) is through a Breathalyzer exam. BAC may also be tested by way of blood or urine analysis, however.
For driver’s 21 and over, a BAC of 0.08 grams or more can support a charge of driving under the influence per se (and a driver with a BAC below 0.08 grams may still be charged as a “less safe” driver).
For driver’s under the age of 21, because of “zero tolerance” laws, a BAC of 0.02 grams or more can lead to a charge of driving under the influence. And for those driving commercial vehicles and suspected of driving under the influence, a BAC of 0.04 grams or more can support a charge of DUI.
By having a driver’s license in the State of Georgia, you impliedly consent to submitting to a test of your blood alcohol content upon request by law enforcement. This Implied Consent condition (discussed more thoroughly here) means that, while you may still choose not to submit to a test of your blood, breath or urine, your refusal will be prosecuted separately from your criminal case (in an administrative hearing, discussed more thoroughly here), and can result in the suspension of your license for a minimum of one (1) year.
The Breathalyzer is the most commonly used device for determining one’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) from a breath sample. The Breathalyzer test is usually administered after one is arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI), at the jail or police station. If you are licensed to drive in the State of Georgia, you impliedly consent to a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine at the request of a police officer. Refusal to submit to these tests can subject you to an administrative prosecution and a minimum of one (1) year suspension of your license.
The machine currently used in Georgia to administer these chemical tests is the Intoxilyzer 5000. This is a big typewriter-size machine in the jail or police station in which breath samples are taken from a subject, analyzed, and one’s BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) is calculated in grams. While the Breathalyzer, when properly calibrated and administered, can provide a fairly accurate indication of one’s blood alcohol content, it far from perfect. There are numerous design flaws inherent in the machine, and many physical and environmental factors and conditions (such as acid reflux, mints, gum, and mouthwash) can affect the reading.
If you are charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in the State of Georgia, you are either suspected of having driven or operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol to the extent it was less safe to drive, or you are charged with driving under the influence, per se, i.e., having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams or more* any time within three (3) hours after driving from alcohol consumed before that driving ended.
(*These values are different for drivers under the age of 21 and drivers of commercial vehicles).
A driver may also be charged with DUI Per Se if, when driving or being in actual physical control of a moving vehicle, there is any amount of marijuana or controlled substance in his or her blood or urine.
The most common method of testing one’s BAC (blood alcohol content, or concentration) is by submitting breath samples to a Breathalyzer. However, one’s BAC may also be tested by a chemical analysis of their blood or urine. If this method of testing is utilized, the results must be submitted to the lab and analyzed before a determination of BAC can be made. If the blood or urine test indicate the presence of marijuana or other controlled substances, regardless of whether any alcohol is present, a driver may be charged with DUI Per Se.