DUI: I didn't think it had alcohol

Posted by William H. Sherman on May 04, 2017 | 0 Comments

Question:  I didn't think I was drinking any alcohol but I got pulled over and I got a DUI in Cumming.

I was at a party and I drank some punch and I'm pretty sure the punch had alcohol. But I didn't know the punch was “spiked” and I drove home with my wife and a Forsyth County deputy sheriff pulled me over. The deputy said I was speeding and asked me to get out of the car to take some tests, which I did.

I did the field sobriety tests and I think I did alright, with maybe a stumble or two, but nothing major. I think I stumbled because of a bad back from college football and the Marine Corps, not any booze.

The Forsyth cop asked me to blow into a tube and I did and he arrested me for DUI and took me to the jail where I took a breathalyzer test and I got a .176 and a .172. I couldn't believe it was so high because I really didn't think I consumed any alcohol and so I thought I wasn't drunk.

Here's the thing, somebody at the party said the punch was “jungle juice” and only had tropical flavors and fruits, like kiwi. The person said the lady who owned the house insisted that there be punch that even kids could drink that didn't have alcohol. I was told her brother was in rehab for alcohol and she didn't want to encourage drinking.

So I drank the punch and thought I was fine. And then I got stopped in Cumming and I caught a drunk driving charge and I went to the Forsyth County jail. When I got out of jail and called a friend and told her what happened, she said someone was bragging that they put grain alcohol in the punch.

Can I use as a defense that I thought I was drinking non-alcoholic punch?

C.L. in Cumming, Georgia

Answer:  Saying that you thought what you drank didn't contain alcohol is not a good legal defense. Under Georgia law, it does not matter what you thought you drank or how much you drank. The law provides that if you are a “less safe driver” due to the ingestion of any substance, including alcohol and drugs, you can be convicted of DUI.

So even if a person doesn't realize that they drank alcohol, it doesn't matter under the law. In your case, with a high blood-alcohol concentration (.176 and .172 are both over twice the legal limit), your explanation is unlikely to work because it is unlikely to be believed.

It might be different, however, if your BAC (blood-alcohol concentration) was lower. In that case, if presented by a Forsyth County DUI lawyer in a proper context, a prosecutor and judge may have some sympathy for your situation. 

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William H. Sherman

With a professional background that includes serving as a Senior Assistant County Attorney and as an Assistant Attorney General, attorney William H. Sherman has great experience, a broad range of legal knowledge and a proven record of success.  Each of Mr. Sherman's clients gets the full benefit of his experience.  Because attorney Sherman has worked for governmental organizations, large corporations and clerked for a judge, he has handled a wide variety of cases from negotiation and trial to successful appeal. Mr. Sherman is very proud of his reputation as a problem-solver who is always available to his clients.  Active in the community, Mr. Sherman and his wife, attorney Valerie Sherman, support many community organizations, sports teams and charities.  Call him now and let his experience work for you.

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