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DUI includes marijuana and other drugs

Drunk driving is not the only grounds for DUI charges in Georgia. Drugs play a major part in DUI charges and defenses.

Drugs and DUI

A person is guilty of a DUI for driving under the influence of any drug that makes it less safe for that motorist to drive. Motorists commit a different DUI offense they drive with any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance present in theirs blood or urine, including metabolites or derivatives, regardless of whether the motorist is impaired.

Limited defenses

A person who was legally entitled to use a drug cannot claim that as a defense against a DUI charge that the driver was unable to drive safely.

For DUI’s involving controlled substances, being unimpaired is not a defense against charges unless the drug was used legally. Motorists may be convicted weeks after use because cannabis metabolites can remain in a person’s body for a month after being ingested.

However, the state Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that laws that treated legal users of marijuana differently were unconstitutional because police had to prove legal users drove unsafely.  Therefore, these per se drug laws will likely apply to motorists who use a drug that has no legal uses such as heroin.

Implied consent

Motorists implicitly but legally agreed, as a condition of receiving their license, to submit to a test for determining the presence of drugs or alcohol if stopped by police. These include a chemical test or another test of their blood, urine, or other bodily substances.

Refusal to submit to these tests is admissible at a motorist’s criminal trial. Refusal may also lead to license suspension, but a driver may request a hearing within 10 days from the stop.

Motorists can have their tests performed by a physician, qualified technician, chemist, registered nurse, or other qualified individual that the driver chooses to administer these tests in addition to any tests requested by the police.


A first offense starts with a fine of $300 to $1,000 plus fees and assessment up to 25 percent. There is a mandatory minimum 24 hours imprisonment which can also grow to 10 days to 12 moths, a mandatory minimum of 40 hours of community service, 12 months of probation, and mandatory participation in a 20-hour risk reduction program costing $250.00.

Subsequent offenses carry larger fines, longer prison sentences and mandatory license suspension. There is mandatory imprisonment of 24 hours which can go to 12 months for a first conviction of the per se driving law.

Attorneys can help protect your rights. They can help assure that you present the best defense under the circumstances.