A DeKalb County detective has been arrested on suspicion of DUI. According to reports, Justin Hamilton was driving his personal vehicle while off duty in Atlanta when he veered onto the sidewalk and struck a pedestrian. The pedestrian was transported to a local hospital after complaining about pain in his leg.

Hamilton waited at the scene until officers arrived to investigate. They suspected he was under the influence of drugs and administered a field sobriety test, which he failed. He was subsequently arrested on suspicion of DUI. The detective has been placed on administrative leave, pending an internal investigation into his alleged crime.

DUIs Aren’t Just For Alcohol

Driving under the influence, or DUI, is most commonly associated with alcohol. However, you can get a DUI even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was zero. That’s because Georgia DUI laws also apply to drive under the influence of drugs.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Under O.C.G.A 40-6-391(a)(2), it is a crime to “drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while…under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive.”

This included illicit drugs as well as prescription medications. So, you could potentially get a DUI for driving while taking medication that was lawfully prescribed to you. For example, you could get a DUI if your medication impaired your vision, concentration, ability to see, or made it “less safe” for you to drive in any way.

You can also get a DUI even if the drugs, alone, wouldn’t make it less safe for you to drive. How? If, while taking that medication, you also drank or took other drugs. If the combination makes it less safe for you to drive, it’s a violation of the law.

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana or Another Controlled Substance

You’re only prohibited from driving while taking a prescription medication if that drug makes it less safe for you to drive. However, you’re always prohibited from driving if you’re under the influence of marijuana or any other controlled substance. Under O.C.G.A. 40-6-391(a)(6), you’ll be considered “per se” intoxicated if you have any trace of an illegal drug in your blood or urine. So, you’ll be considered intoxicated, regardless of your ability to drive safely.

First DUI Penalties

This was Hamilton’s first DUI arrest. The fact that he’s a police officer doesn’t excuse his behavior or allow him to get special treatment. In Georgia, a first DUI offense is typically a misdemeanor. Penalties can include:

  • Between 24 hours and 12 months in jail
  • 12 months probation
  • $300 fine
  • 40 hours of community service
  • Alcohol or substance abuse counseling, and
  • Administrative license suspension.

Hamilton will automatically lose his license if he doesn’t request an administrative hearing within 30 days of his arrest.

A DUI doesn’t just have criminal penalties. A DUI conviction can also have severe collateral consequences. These might include job loss and loss of professional licenses.

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