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DUI Drugs, Equal Protection: Cocaine Metabolite legal use versus illegal use, Head v. State, A09A20

DUI, DUI Less Safe Sufficiency of the Evidence, Drugs, Equal Protection: Cocaine Metabolite legal use versus illegal useHead v. State, A09A2039, Court of Appeals of Georgia, (Decided: March 18, 2010). B. Head was arrested for DUI in Carroll County after a traffic accident wherein he broadsided a bus that turned in front of him.  The Carroll County Sheriff’s Deputy smelled alcohol and concluded that Head could have avoided the accident so he arrest for DUI less alcohol and took a sample of his blood after reading Georgia Implied Consent.

The Blood test came back negative for alcohol but positive for alprazolam and metabolites of cocaine or the chemical by-products of cocaine use.  A bench trial on the DUI drugs was held in Carrollton Georgia in the Carroll County State Court and Head was found guilty of DUI Drugs being less safe and DUI drugs prohibited substance.

Head appealed alleged that there was insufficient evidence that Defendant Head was less safe from the use of drugs.  The Court of Appeals agreed to find that the only evidence was of the presence of drugs but there was not any evidence that there was impairment caused by the drugs. Ricks v. State, 255 Ga. App. 188 (2002), and Ellison v. State, 271 GA. App. 898 (2005).  The Court denied the allegations that the DUI drugs per se violated equal protection rights as there are legal uses for cocaine-based prescription medicines specifically certain types of eye drops. The Court held that this issue was decided by  Keenum v. State, 248 Ga. App. 474 (2001). However, in Keenum, there was no evidence of any legal uses of cocaine so that case is distinguishable.