America is a patchwork quilt of marijuana laws. In some states or localities, weed is fully legalized or decriminalized. In other states, the substance is only legal for those with certain medical conditions, and that list of conditions varies by state. In other states, possession is still illegal.
So what are the current laws for Georgia residents at this time?
That’s an important question because if you run afoul of the marijuana laws here, you might lose your driver’s license and can only get it back after obtaining pricey auto coverage.
Let’s break it down.
Is Marijuana Legal in Georgia?
Nope. Except for cannabis oil containing less than five percent THC, and even then only for limited medical reasons, marijuana possession and use is still illegal.
In Georgia, it’s a misdemeanor to possess an ounce or less of weed and a felony to get caught with more than an ounce. Pretty straightforward, huh? Except…
It gets complicated because several communities and even an entire Georgia county have decriminalized the possession of small quantities of marijuana. Georgia cities with decriminalization laws on the books include Atlanta, Macon, Savannah, Clarkston, and several smaller communities, as well as Macon-Bibb County.
In these Georgia municipalities, it’s still illegal to possess marijuana under most circumstances, but the penalties have been lowered considerably. As an example, if caught with an ounce or less of weed in Atlanta, you’ll only be subject to a $75 fine.
Could I Get a DUI Conviction for Weed in Georgia?
Yep. Driving under the influence of marijuana is just as illegal as being under the influence of alcohol or any other impairing substance. However, measuring the effects of marijuana is tougher for law enforcement.
A Breathalyzer won’t reveal the presence of marijuana in your system, so the arresting officer must call for a blood test if marijuana impairment is suspected. However, while alcohol can only be detected when it’s actively impairing reflexes and the ability to safely drive a motor vehicle, marijuana can be in your system for 30 days.
Obviously, if you had a gummy or a joint 30 days ago, you are no longer impaired. So marijuana laws in Georgia state that you must show signs of impairment, as well as the blood test evidence of the substance in your system.
In other words, if you were stopped because you were weaving, ran a red light, or were otherwise driving in an unsafe or reckless manner, the arresting officer may suspect impairment by weed, and you might have to take a blood test. Even if you last smoked marijuana weeks ago, it could show up in your system.
Whether you were driving in a distracted fashion because you were texting or chatting with a passenger, or you’re just a bad driver, you might be arrested and convicted for driving under the influence of that substance.
What Are the Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana?
Even in Georgia cities with decriminalization of weed, the penalties for a marijuana DUI can be harsh. A first offense is a misdemeanor that can bring on a sentence of 24 hours in jail and a $1,000 fine, among other penalties, including the temporary loss of driving privileges.
The penalties grow more severe with every conviction, up to a fourth offense and beyond. Now it’s a felony that could bring you jail time of between 90 days to five years and other harsh penalties.
Worst of all, any marijuana DUI conviction in Georgia will mean the loss of driving privileges until you’ve acquired SR-22 insurance.
What is SR-22 Insurance?
It’s not actually insurance coverage. Rather, it’s certification proving that a motorist has obtained a minimal level of car insurance after regaining driving privileges. This documentation is required by Georgia and many other states for drivers convicted of a DUI, or those who’ve had their licenses suspended for a number of other serious infractions.
Unfortunately, you’re considered to be a high-risk driver at this point. That means your auto insurance will cost more. Often a lot more. That’s why you need to consult a trusted auto insurance agent with experience obtaining SR-22 coverage for drivers.
If you deal with an independent auto insurance agent, they can shop for the most affordable SR-22 insurance from competing insurers. This is your best strategy for containing the cost as much as possible.