There are many types of DUIs (driving under the influence) in Georgia, but the most common type is that a person is “driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”
What does it mean, legally, to be “under the influence?” Firstly, it means that you are less safe to drive than if you had not consumed alcohol or drugs. But, hey, that depends on the person’s tolerance, right? So, according to the Pattern Jury Charges that judges in Georgia read to jurors before deliberating, this is what “less safe” means:
A person is less safe to drive when that person is less efficient, less skillful, less coherent, less able, and less proficient to drive a car.
Take notice: there is nothing that describes “less safe” as having your eyes jerk (examined by the Hortizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test) or performing gymnastic floor exercises recognized as field sobriety tests. There is no indication about bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or the smell of alcohol. The definition also does not mention anything about alcohol or drug blood levels. The definition has to do with whether a person’s fine motor skills have been affected so much that they cannot effectively drive a car.
So, the next time you are on a jury and are asked to decide if someone was the DUI-version of “less safe”, remember the context of driving ability. Is there evidence that the person was able, efficient, skilful or proficient while driving the car? Or is there simply collateral evidence that may or may not have anything to do with actual driving skill?