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When are you too drunk to drive according to Georgia laws?

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2023 | Drunk Driving |

It is not illegal to have a glass of wine or a bottle of beer after a rough day in the office. However, drinking becomes a crime when the alcohol you consumed influences the way you operate your vehicle. In Georgia, it is illegal for someone age 21 and over to be driving or “in actual physical control of any moving vehicle” if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at least 0.08 grams.

If your BAC is 0.05 grams or less, then the presumption is you are not breaking the law. The problem is that the presumption is rebuttable under certain circumstances, meaning your level of intoxication may have little bearing.

When your level of intoxication does not matter in a DUI arrest

A police officer can pull your vehicle over for a variety of reasons, such as a broken taillight. Whatever the reason, it should be valid and objective. Their reason for pulling you over, in this case, has nothing to do with you drinking and driving. If they conduct a BAC test that reveals your BAC is 0.05 or less, they still do not have enough evidence to warrant a DUI arrest.

Your level of intoxication will not matter if they conducted the traffic stop based on reasonable suspicion that you have been drinking. Here is when your level of intoxication becomes irrelevant:

  • If you were driving erratically or recklessly
  • If you violated any of the Georgia traffic laws while driving
  • If you show observable signs of alcohol impairment

Again, what matters is there is enough alcohol in your system to influence or impair the way you drive.

Why probable cause matters

A police officer can only ask you to submit to a field sobriety test or breath test if they have probable cause to suspect impairment. They cannot just assume you have been drinking without having substantial evidence to support their assumption. Therefore, you should be extra careful when talking to an officer. You can always invoke your right to remain silent and politely refuse to answer their questions.

Furthermore, the officer can only arrest you for driving under the influence (DUI) when they have probable cause. Visible signs of impairment give the officer probable cause, but a broken taillight does not.