Most people think of DUI as an alcohol related offense. However, driving under the influence can include the influence of illegal drugs. Georgia’s drug possession laws are very strict and can result in jail time if not followed closely. The U.S. Congress passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 to help control the abuse of illegal substances and misuse of legal substances. This legislation put in place a drug schedule which classifies illegal and legal substances for those being prosecuted for possession.
Schedule I substances are those that have are most likely to be abused and have no legal medicinal use including heroine, ecstasy, and hallucinogenic substances among others.
Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse but also have an accepted medical use. These include cocaine, morphine, and amphetamines & methamphetamines.
Schedule III substances have less potential for abuse then Schedule I and II drugs and have a presently accepted medicinal use in treatment including some steroids, hydrocodone, stimulants, and depressants among others.
Schedule IV controlled substances are less likely than Schedule III drugs to be abused and are accepted for medical use such as stimulants, depressants, some muscle relaxers and barbiturates.
Schedule V substances have a low potential for abuse relative to other drugs but have an accepted medical use. These include cough syrups with small amount of codeine as well as some stimulants.
Determining guilt of a possession charge is based on how the State of Georgia defines controlled substance possession. According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 16-13-2, drug possession includes the conscious control over substances deemed illegal by the State of Georgia and the federal government. This definition includes those controlled substances that are not necessarily on your person for a drug possession charge. Whether the drugs are found in your vehicle or in your pocket, you could be potentially charged with drug possession.
Penalties for controlled substance possession range from a misdemeanor to felony charges and can result in up to 30 years in prison for those with multiple offenses. Those charged with possession of a controlled substance can also face hefty fines. The OCGA § 16-13-30 says that anyone caught trafficking, producing, possessing, selling, or buying schedule I and II substances for the first time could receive between 2 and 15 years in jail, and those with previous offenses could be sentenced to double that.
If you are convicted of possession of illegal substances, your driver’s license is suspended from six months for a first offender up to five years for those with multiple offenses (OCGA § 40-5-75) Those currently accepting state-sponsored financial aid (including the Hope Scholarship) will lose such funds if convicted of a felony drug offense (OCGA § 20-3-519.1). Those receiving federal scholarships will lose their funding if convicted of any drug offense (even a state misdemeanor marijuana conviction) (OCGA § 16-13-32.3).
Along with jail time, heavy fines, loss of a driver’s license, and potential loss of educational funding, those convicted of drug possession can also lose property used to violate the Georgia State drug laws (OCGA § 16-13-49). This means if you are using your house to make illegal substances or your car to traffic them, those belongings can be deemed contraband and seized upon conviction.
Prescription Drugs & Paraphernalia
Many prescription drugs are included in the schedule because of their high potential for abuse. If you are pulled over and prescriptions drugs are found on your person or in your vehicle without a prescription, you will be deemed in possession of illegal drugs.
Those found with drug paraphernalia can also be charged with a misdemeanor which can result in up to $1000 in fines and 1 year in prison. Paraphernalia can include, but is not limited to crack cocaine pipes, syringes, roach clips, and bongs.
Finding an Attorney for DUI of Illegal Drugs
Just like in the case of DUI of alcohol, it is important not to give the officer who has pulled you over any substantiation to enter as evidence in court to convict you of drug charges. If you’re pulled over for a roadside stop, do not submit to any of the field sobriety tests like the walk-and-turn, horizontal gaze, or the one-leg stand test. Never admit to consuming drugs or alcohol and call an experienced DUI attorney with a history of positive case results.
Drug and alcohol laws in Georgia can be difficult to navigate. They are hard to understand and change often. Mickey Roberts is a successful Georgia DUI and drivers’ rights lawyer with a history of winning cases. Check out his testimonials for stories from satisfied clients. You can complete the contact us form for more information or to schedule a consultation.