770-284-1319

Atlanta DUI Per Se Defense Attorney

At the Law Office of Carter Pilgrim Stroud, Georgia Attorney Phil Pilgrim has represented both the accused and the State of Georgia in criminal prosecutions. As the Senior Assistant Solicitor-General for Georgia, Attorney Phil Pilgrim directed hundreds of criminal prosecutions – primarily in alcohol-related offenses. Realizing that the accused face an uphill battle in the criminal justice system, Mr. Pilgrim left public practice to focus on criminal defense. By using his intricate knowledge of the strategies employed by Georgia prosecutors in alcohol-related criminal prosecutions, Mr. Pilgrim is able to mitigate the prejudice the accused face and offer exceptional criminal defense. Understanding how to stay one step ahead of the prosecution can be the difference between an acquittal and spending time in prison. If you or someone you know has been accused of DUI per se, please contact our offices as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation.

Types of DUI in Georgia

Under Georgia law, there are two separate DUI offenses that an individual may be charged with: (1) DUI per se and (2) DUI less safe. While both are DUI charges, the evidence required to prove them differs. A DUI per se is what most individuals associate with a DUI – it is driving with a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) in excess of the legal limit. “Per se” means “by or in itself” or “by or of itself” which equates to one thing meaning another. Thus, DUI “per se” means that operating a motor vehicle with a BAC in excess of the legal limit is per se intoxicated driving and therefore illegal.

Conversely, DUI less safe does not rely on BAC and can be charged for individuals who do not have a BAC in excess of the legal limit. DUI less safe is behavior based and thus is harder for the prosecution to prove, as they cannot simply identify the BAC as being in excess of the legal limit.

Requirements for DUI Per Se in Georgia

To be convicted of DUI per se in Georgia, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused (1) was operating a motor vehicle and (2) had a BAC in excess of the legal limit. For individuals under 21 years of age, the legal limit is 0.02 BAC. For commercial drivers, the legal limit is 0.04 BAC. Finally, for individuals 21 years of age and older, the legal limit is 0.08 BAC.

The specific definition of operating a motor vehicle under Georgia law is not as straight-forward as it seems, which results in some confusion regarding whether this element is met. Due to the confusion surrounding Georgia’s definition of “operating a motor vehicle,” it’s essential to speak with an experience DUI per se lawyer to ensure that you are properly defended.

Proving DUI Per Se in Georgia

As noted above, the prosecution must prove that an individual was operating a motor vehicle and had a BAC in excess of the legal limit. Importantly, the prosecution must show that the BAC was in excess of the legal limit within three hours of operating a motor vehicle. To prove BAC in excess of the legal limit, the prosecution may utilize breathalyzer results and blood sample tests.

Breathalyzer tests are often administered at the time the officer stops the individual suspected of DUI. However, these tests tend to be less precise and thus police officers who believe the individual has a BAC in excess of the legal limit will take the suspect into custody for a blood sample test. Blood sample tests are more precise than breathalyzers and thus preferred by the prosecution as evidence. Note that while an individual can refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test without repercussion, Georgia has an “implied consent” law which means that by holding a Georgia driver’s license and operating a motor vehicle within the state, an individual impliedly consents to giving a blood sample test for suspicion of DUI. Refusal of the blood sample test results in an automatic driver’s license suspension of one year.

Penalties for DUI Per Se

In Georgia DUI penalties are notoriously harsh. In Georgia, the following penalties apply to DUI convictions:

  • First Offense
    • Up to one year in jail;
    • Up to $1000 fine;
    • Up to one-years driver’s license suspension;
    • 40 hours of community service;
    • Probation; and
    • DUI education course.
  • Second Offense
    • Up to one year in jail;
    • Up to $1000 fine;
    • Up to three-years driver’s license suspension;
    • 40 hours of community service;
    • Probation;
    • DUI education course;
    • Substance abuse treatment; and
    • Possible installment of an ignition interlock device.
  • Third Offense
    • Up to one year in fail;
    • Fine of $1000 to $5000;
    • Up to five-years driver’s license suspension;
    • 40 hours of community service;
    • Probation;
    • DUI education course;
    • Substance abuse treatment; and
    • Possible installment of an ignition interlock device.
  • Fourth Offense
    • Felony offense;
    • One to five years in prison; and
    • Up to $5000 fine.

Contact Our DUI Per Se Defense Attorney in Atlanta, Georgia

At the Law Office of Carter Pilgrim Stroud, Attorney Phil Pilgrim utilizes his experience from hundreds of alcohol-related cases to provide the most comprehensive DUI per se defense possible. Despite the open-and-shut appearance of proving BAC, Mr. Pilgrim knows how to challenge the validity breathalyzer and blood sample tests. As a criminal defense attorney, Mr. Pilgrim has the experience required to challenge blood sample tests based on chain of title, invalid sample storage, and failure to follow protocol, among many other defenses which Mr. Pilgrim can raise in your defense. If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI per se, please contact our offices as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation.

The Law Office of Carter Pilgrim Stroud is located in Suwanee, GA and serves Gwinnett County, Forsyth County, Cumming, Buford, Lawrenceville, Braselton, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Duluth, Norcross, Hoschton, Jefferson, Commerce, Dawsonville, Gainesville, and other surrounding areas.


The Law Office of Carter Pilgrim Stroud is located in Suwanee, GA and serves Gwinnett County, Forsyth County, Cumming, Buford, Lawrenceville, Braselton, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Duluth, Norcross, Hoschton, Jefferson, Commerce, Dawsonville, Gainesville, and other surrounding areas.



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3725 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Rd., Suite A-4, Suwanee, GA 30024
| Phone: 770-284-1319

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3725 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Rd., Suite A-4, Suwanee, GA 30024
| Phone: 770-284-1319

Experience | DUI | Hiring a Lawyer | Suspensions | Sobriety Tests | Breath/Blood Tests | Process

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