One of the most common questions we get is, “What is the difference between a less safe DUI and per se DUI?” If you've been charged with a DUI, you might have the words “less safe” or “per se” written on your citation. These terms can be confusing for many. Is one charge more serious than another? How will your charge affect your trial? In this blog post, we'll take a look at these questions and more so you understand the differences between them.
What Counts as a DUI?
Before we get into the difference between a less safe DUI and per se DUI, let's talk about what a DUI actually is. DUI, or “driving under the influence,” is what someone is charged with when a substance causes their driving to be less safe than usual. The substance can be any of the following:
- Drugs/controlled substances
- Toxic vapors (like aerosol spray)
Drivers can also get charged with a DUI if they are found to be using a combination of substances, like drugs and alcohol.
Comparison Between Less Safe DUI and Per Se DUI
The difference between a less safe and a per se DUI really depends on what evidence the government has against you.
Per Se DUI
A per se DUI always involves breath, blood, or urine test results. For this type of DUI, results have to show that you're above the legal limit for alcohol or that you've consumed a drug. The legal limit for alcohol is based on blood alcohol concentration or BAC for short. If you have a BAC level of 0.08% or higher, then you will automatically be charged with a per se DUI.
Less Safe DUI
The other kind of DUI is a less safe DUI. Typically you'll be charged with a less safe DUI if the government doesn't have a blood, urine, or breath test against you. Because they can't prove you were drunk or on drugs with test results, they'll use other means. They might use circumstantial evidence, such as:
- Failing the sobriety test
- An alcoholic smell
- Glassy, bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
Basically, anything that an officer notes after they pull you over could be used against you in a less safe DUI case. Because the evidence is circumstantial, these cases can be difficult to prove. However, it's not impossible to get a less safe DUI conviction, which is why you should always call a law firm specializing in DUI defense like Brett Willis Law. We've had multiple client stories of people who were charged with a DUI, but the charges were dropped because the tests weren't handled properly.
Are Less Safe DUI and Per Se DUI Penalties Different?
One common misconception when it comes to a less safe DUI and per se DUI is that one charge is more severe than the other. In reality, the penalties for both are exactly the same. Instead, the primary distinction is what evidence can be used against you in court.
Penalties for DUI Convictions
If someone is convicted of a less safe DUI or per se DUI, they will face certain punishments, including:
- Mandatory DUI school
- Minimum 24 hours of jail time
- Fines up to $1,000
- At least 40 hours of community service
- License suspension for at least 120 days
- At least 12 months of probation
These are the punishments for first-time DUI offenders only. The minimum punishments become greater for every offense made over the course of 10 years. This is especially true for fourth and subsequent DUIs, which are treated as felonies in Georgia.
Do You Need a Lawyer for Your DUI Case?
One of the most important things you can do before your trial is to call an experienced DUI lawyer like Brett Willis. From sending a letter to the Department of Driver Services to representing you in court, lawyers are there to help you every step of the way. We understand that being charged with a DUI can be a stressful experience. Whether you have questions on a less safe DUI and per se DUI or you need legal help.