A lot of my Columbus, Georgia friends are suddenly asking, “what is this new ‘less safe’ crap I am seeing in local DUI arrests?” Why are we seeing so many “less safe” DUI arrests?” The answer, first, is it is nothing new. For years Georgia law has always given the arresting officer the option of making an arrest for DUI based upon either:
(1) the driver’s actual blood alcohol concentration (BAC) from a blood/breath/urine test; or,
(2) the officer’s observation based upon the overall circumstances that the driver is under the influence of alcohol (or drugs) to the extent he or she is less safe to drive.
The officer determines whether it is “less safe” for the person to drive, or if this person is incapable of driving safely.
There are some basic reasons why an Officer may do so, but the choice usually will depend upon whether the officer has a valid, admissible BAC on the driver when the officer makes the arrest, and for a variety of reasons, the driver’s BAC may be unknown on the night of the arrest. For example, if the driver refuses the implied consent test of his/her blood, breath or urine, then usually the officer will not attempt a forced blood draw or other tests. But Georgia law still provides the officer legal grounds for arresting you as less safe to drive.
BUT WHY SO MANY LATELY? Two reasons; first, local law enforcement has stopped using the Intox 5000 breathalyzer at the jail in favor of a blood test. The Intox 5000 was replaced as the permitted machine for testing breath under Georgia Bureau of Investigation rules, and until its replacement arrives, a blood test is the preferred method of law enforcement in the Chattahoochee area. Now, more recently, most law enforcement jurisdictions (Muscogee, Harris and other county jails) have the new Intox 9000, and officers are becoming more comfortable using it. Second, since blood test results are generally not available at the time of arrest, officers don't know if the driver’s BAC is over the legal limit, so the driver is charged under the “less safe” prong of the DUI criminal statute.
And finally, the trend for several years in this area indicates the Georgia State patrol Nighthawks DUI task force tends to prefer asking for and obtaining a blood test to support the arrest. The results of the blood test are not available for months after the night of the arrest, so the officer must charge you with DUI less safe under the controlling law. If the blood test reveals a BAC over the legal limit, then the prosecutor can charge you under either or both prongs the statute (described above). However, an experienced DUI attorney knows the difference and whether the prosecutor can rely on both or only one and the strength of the case under either choice.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Columbus, Georgia, Call Ted Morgan Law to discuss your DUI arrest today! We represent those accused of DUI in Talbotton, Woodland, Manchester, Richland, Hamilton, Pine Mountain, and Harris, Talbot, Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Meriwether, and Stewart Counties in Georgia.