Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Georgia

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Driving under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, other drugs or a combination is a crime in Georgia. (Ga. Motor Vehicles & Traffic Code § 40-6-391(a)(1),(2),&(4).) This article explains the penalties imposed for DUI violations, but other laws regarding marijuana possession may also apply to passengers and drivers.

For detailed information on Georgia marijuana laws in general, including possession and sale, see Georgia Marijuana Laws.

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

It is illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, other drugs, alcohol, or a combination of substances. In Georgia, being under the influence means that a driver is in actual physical control of a vehicle when—because of drug or alcohol use—it is less than safe for that person to drive. When alcohol is involved, a blood alcohol level of .08 percent of the driver's blood, by volume, will conclusively establish that the driver is under the influence (if the level is less, the prosecutor can still point to the driver's actions to prove that he was under the influence).

When marijuana is involved, however, any amount of marijuana (including metabolites) that was in the driver’s blood or urine while he was driving will establish that the driver was under the influence. (Ga. Motor Vehicles & Traffic Code § 40-6-391(a)(1),(2),&(4).)

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence

Penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana vary according to whether it’s a first or subsequent conviction.

First convictions. Defendants are guilty of a misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of between $300 and $1,000, up to one year in jail, at least 40 hours of community service, completion of a DUI alcohol or drug use risk reduction program, a clinical evaluation (and possible drug treatment program participation), and probation for up to a year (less any time spent in jail). (Ga. Motor Vehicles & Traffic Code § 40-6-391(c)(1).) 

Second convictions. A second conviction within ten years of a prior conviction is a misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of between $600 and $1,000, between 90 days and one year in jail, at least 30 days of community service, completion of a DUI alcohol or drug use risk reduction program, a clinical evaluation (and possible drug treatment program participation), and probation for up to a year (less any time spent in jail). (Ga. Motor Vehicles & Traffic Code § 40-6-391(c)(2).)

Third convictions. A third conviction within ten years of two prior conviction is a high and aggravated misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000, between 120 days and one year in jail, at least 30 days of community service, completion of a DUI alcohol or drug use risk reduction program, a clinical evaluation (and possible drug treatment program participation), and probation for up to a year (less any time spent in jail). (Ga. Motor Vehicles & Traffic Code § 40-6-391(c)(3).)

Fourth and subsequent convictions. A fourth or subsequent conviction, with three or more prior convictions since July 1, 2008, is a felony. Penalties include a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000, one to five years in prison, at least 60 days of community service, completion of a DUI alcohol or drug use risk reduction program, a clinical evaluation (and possible drug treatment program participation), and probation for up to five years (less any time spent in jail). Fourth or subsequent offenses that occur when three or more convictions occurred within 10 years, but not all after July 1, 2008, are treated as a high and aggravated misdemeanor. Penalties are the same as those described above for third convictions. (Ga. Motor Vehicles & Traffic Code § 40-6-391(c)(4).)

Offenses while transporting a minor. Any offense committed while a minor 14 years old or younger is in the vehicle is punishable with additional penalties for endangering and contributing to the delinquency of a child. (Ga. Motor Vehicles & Traffic Code § 40-6-391(l).)

Fine Suspension

The judge may suspend up to one half of the fines described above, if the judge determines that the fines impose an economic hardship on the defendant. Alternately, the judge may create a payment plan, so that the defendant can pay the fine in installments. The judge may also suspend up to half of the fines upon the defendant undergoing substance abuse treatment. (Ga. Motor Vehicles & Traffic Code § 40-6-391(g)(1)&(2).)

An Important Note on Local Legal Representation

If you have been charged with a marijuana-related driving offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. While the penalties and consequences of a marijuana charge are governed by statutory law, only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.

by: , Contributing Author

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