A conviction for a DUI can cause serious repercussions, including fines, jail time, and the loss of driving privileges. While breath tests are commonly used to determine if drivers have too much alcohol in their systems, the state examines other kinds of evidence to prove DUI exists. According to FindLaw, Georgia law takes two approaches to determine whether someone is driving while intoxicated.
First, state law establishes if drivers are DUI by whether they show clear signs that they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It does not matter whether the BAC level of a driver reaches the threshold of intoxication. A police officer may suspect DUI if a motorist drives erratically. Once the officer pulls the driver over, the officer will likely ask the driver to perform a field sobriety test. Results that show physical or mental impairment may indicate someone is under the influence.
However, state law may determine a driver is DUI even if the individual exhibits no observable evidence of being under the influence. This means a person may drive safely and in accordance with traffic laws, not exhibit physical or mental impairments caused by alcohol, and even pass a field sobriety test. But the law may still consider the driver DUI “per se” if the BAC level of the driver is 0.08 or higher.
FindLaw elaborates that since DUI per se laws operate on the legal assumption that a driver with a 0.08 or higher BAC level is intoxicated, it relieves much of the burden on law enforcement to prove intoxication based upon field sobriety tests or other evidence taken on the scene. However, this does not mean the prosecution has an airtight case. A defense attorney can challenge the validity of the BAC test, the machine used to test the breath, or the procedures used by the testing officer on the scene.