While many people immediately think of a DUI as being alcohol-related, the charge also applies to driving under the influence of drugs. A DUI involving drugs can be much more complicated than a DUI involving alcohol, so to help Georgia drivers be more knowledgeable about the laws that apply to them, I’ve broken down the information that you need to know about DUIs involving drugs.
Defining DUI Involving Drugs
Essentially, a DUI involving drugs means that the driver’s abilities are impaired due to the use of illegal substances, such as marijuana, cocaine, or heroin. However, this can also include substances that are themselves legal but are being used in an illegal or unsafe way. For example, a person can be arrested for DUI of drugs if they are driving under the influence of certain prescription drugs, even if their prescription is valid, or if they have inhaled glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapors.
In Georgia, there are 2 types of DUI drugs: 1) the driver has consumed marijuana or a prescription drug, and was rendered incapable of driving safely, or 2) the driver has consumed an illegal drug, such as heroin, or has consumed a drug for which the person does not have a prescription. This can make the law tricky, because some substances like marijuana can be detected in urine as long as a month after use, and because there is not a legal limit—a driver can be arrested for DUI if any amount of an illegal drug is detected in their system.
Charges That Often Accompany DUI of Drugs
For many clients, a DUI involving drugs is accompanied by other charges. The most frequent is drug possession. According to Georgia law, a person can be charged with possession of a controlled substance if they are deemed to be in control of an illegal substance. This means that if drugs are found on an individual (such as in his or her pocket) or in the individual’s vehicle, a drug possession charge can result. The severity of a drug possession charge depends on the specific substance that was found, as well as the offender’s history. Depending on the individual circumstance, a drug possession conviction can carry extremely heavy consequences, including as much as 30 years in prison for a repeat offender, and the loss of state and federal educational funding for even a first-time offender.
Another charge that often occurs alongside DUI of drugs is the possession of drug paraphernalia—any item used for drug abuse. In other words, an individual doesn’t even need to have drugs themselves in order to find themselves with a criminal charge.
Finally, whether the DUI involves drugs or alcohol, any driver charged with DUI while transporting children under the age of fourteen will also be charged with child endangerment.
Consequences of a DUI Involving Drugs
A DUI of drugs can have significant and long-lasting repercussions. The minimum sentencing alone includes jail time, a fine, community service, completion of DUI school, and probation and a clinical evaluation for substance abuse. The minimum sentences increase with each offense, and if the driver is also convicted of any additional charges (like drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, or child endangerment), they will be facing multiple sentences.
What to Do if Charged with a DUI of Drugs
While a DUI involving drugs is a serious matter, there are steps drivers can take to protect themselves from an unwarranted conviction. First, if stopped on suspicion of DUI, you do not have to admit to ingesting or having illegal substances. Second, do not allow yourself to be pressured into consenting to a voluntary search of your vehicle. Finally, if you do find yourself charged with a DUI involving drugs, hire a traffic attorney who is highly experienced and knowledgeable in these specific cases.
As thorough as it may sound, the information above merely scratches the surface of the intricate laws pertaining to DUIs involving drugs. To find out how I can handle your specific case, schedule an appointment with me, Mickey Roberts. In the meantime, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for daily updates and helpful tips.