Legal Alcohol Limit, Georgia

Georgia’s legal blood alcohol limit for non-commercial adult drivers is.08% (CMV). Georgia’s 0.04 BAC limit for CMV drivers is stricter. Subsections of OCGA 40 6 391 govern these legal limits.

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What Is the Legal Alcohol Limit in Georgia?

It is unlikely that you would get behind the wheel of your vehicle with the intent to drive while intoxicated or to get a DUI. Unfortunately, many people miscalculate how many drinks it takes to surpass the legal drinking limit in Georgia.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. If you intend to have a few drinks before driving home, it’s best to be aware of Georgia DUI laws. Otherwise, you might be illegally driving under the influence and subject to criminal penalties. Understanding the legal limit guidelines and Georgia law can help you avoid the complications of a criminal offense.

If an error in judgment has resulted in a DUI arrest, you may want to immediately consult a skilled Atlanta criminal lawyer. They can help you determine the right strategy for your defense. Contact Chehimi Law to schedule a free consultation.

Georgia Drinking and Driving Laws

In Georgia, you are considered to be over the legal limit or alcohol-impaired if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. This is also referred to as DUI “per se.”

It is difficult to predict how many drinks it takes to exceed the legal limit. It depends on several factors. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Alcohol tolerance
  • Age
  • Body weight 
  • Medical history
  • Medication ingested (if any)
  • Strength of the drink
  • Size of the glass
  • Whether you drank on an empty stomach

Some people often try to calculate the number of drinks they can drink before reaching the Georgia blood alcohol limit based on the type of alcoholic beverages they are drinking. These estimates are often incorrect.

Blood Alcohol Concentration Levels for DUI

According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the current Georgia legal limit is as follows:

Adult Non-Commercial Driver

The legal limit in Georgia for an adult driver’s blood alcohol level has fluctuated over time. It has decreased from 0.15% to 0.08% over the last few decades.

Commercial Drivers

The permissible BAC limit is more stringent if you drive a commercial vehicle and cannot exceed o.04%.

Non-Commercial Drivers Under 21 

Georgia recognizes a zero-tolerance policy for underage drivers, and the legal limit is capped at 0.02%.

With Georgia’s zero-tolerance law, underage drivers are not allowed to have any alcohol in their system. If they violate the law, their graduated license will be delayed by 12 months.

DUI charges and penalties vary depending on your prior record, blood alcohol level, and whether you are underage or driving a commercial motor vehicle. If you were charged with a DUI in Georgia, a misdemeanor lawyer in Atlanta may be able to help.

Consequences of Drunk Driving in Georgia

Your DUI charge will largely depend on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Therefore, the consequences of a conviction are based on multiple factors. A few of these include your age, your criminal history, and the type of license you hold. If you are an underage driver or provide commercial driving services, your penalties will likely be harsher.

As per the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the penalties for a DUI conviction in Georgia are as follows:

First Offense

The punishments for a first DUI conviction in Georgia depend on the circumstances of your infractions. You may receive the following:

    • 40 hours of community service
    • A minimum fine of $300 and a maximum of up to $1,000
    • Jail time of up to one year
    • License suspension of up to one year with a $210 license reinstatement fee

    Second Offense

    If you receive a second charge within five years of your first offense, the penalties are as follows:

    • Minimum 30 days of community service
    • A fine of $600 to $1,000
    • Jail time of up to one year with a minimum of 48 hours in jail
    • License suspension of three years with a $210 reinstatement fee

    You can expect a mandatory clinical evaluation and possible required completion of a substance abuse program at your expense.

    Third Offense

    For a third charge within five years of your second offense, the penalties are as follows:

    • Minimum 30 days of community service
    • A fine of $1000 to $5,000
    • Mandatory minimum of 15 days of jail time
    • License revocation for five years with a $210 reinstatement fee

    After the third offense, you will also be required to undergo a clinical evaluation and to complete a substance abuse program at your own expense. You will also be declared a habitual violator, and your license plate will be seized and sent to the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety (DMV).

    Getting a DUI on a Commercial Driver’s License

    The rules for driving while impaired are different if you are a professional commercial vehicle driver. As noted above, commercial drivers face a stricter Georgia BAC limit and more severe consequences.

    If you have an elevated blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 from consuming alcoholic beverages, which is a lower threshold than a regular DUI , you will be subject to more severe DUI charges and penalties.

    As a convicted commercial driver, your license could be suspended for a year, impacting your ability to make a living. Getting a second Georgia DUI conviction can result in being permanently disqualified from holding a CDL.

      Georgia’s DUI Less Safe Statute: What Is it?

      According to Georgia Code 40-6-391(a)(1), it is an offense for a person to “drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive.”

      The wording of this section does not specify a BAC level that determines whether one is “impaired,” but an individual can be charged based on the fact that they are less safe to drive compared to people who have not ingested any drugs or alcohol.

      Despite having a BAC below the legal limit, a law enforcement officer may still determine whether a driver is impaired based on other factors, including:

      • Driving erratically, such as weaving or an accident.
      • Failing field sobriety tests (Although it is circumstantial evidence, less safe driving can be inferred)
      • Driver’s appearance and/or demeanor, i.e., the odor of alcohol, unsteadiness, staggering, stumbling, or slurred speech. 

      Does the DUI Less Safe Law in Georgia Apply to Drugs in Georgia?

      As with alcohol, drug use makes driving less safe. The State must prove that the drug or substance made the driver less safe, no matter if the drug was an over-the-counter drug, prescription drug, or illegal drug. Mixing alcohol with drugs could also result in less safe charges.

      Even if the driver took the prescription drug as directed, the driver cannot defend a DUI charge for prescription drugs.

      Penalties for Driving Less Safe

      There is a common misconception that less safe DUIs are less serious than per se DUIs. Regardless of whether the case is classified as a less safe DUI or a per se DUI, the penalties are the same and get more severe depending on the number of prior DUIs a person has.

      Consulting with a skilled attorney from a DUI law firm could help you determine your best course of action.

      Can a Georgia DWI Attorney Help?

      After a DUI arrest, you are likely to be shaken and overwhelmed with many questions. Did you exceed the Georgia alcohol driving limit? Should you install an ignition interlock device? What are your options?

      For questions about GA DUI laws or other criminal matters, talk to an attorney at Chehimi Law.

      Established in 2017, the Super Lawyers of Chehimi Law offer a compassionate and rigorous defense for every established and new client. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today!


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