New Georgia Supreme Court ruling may affect DUI defense

Many people from all walks of life enjoy alcohol. Laws around the nation dictate that drivers are only allowed to have a certain level of blood alcohol content to legally operate a vehicle. For most drivers operating regular passenger vehicles, that level is .08 percent. It can be difficult to determine what your alcohol level is after consumption – though you may feel perfectly capable of driving, your BAC level may put you over the legal limit.

However, a recent Georgia Supreme Court ruling could change the management of DUI offenses. The ruling says that a component of the state law that covers DUIs violates the Georgia Constitution. There is a protection in the constitution that says people have a right against self-incrimination. This means that if you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, that fact cannot be used against you at trial. Law enforcement is now admitting that they will have to change procedures around DUI cases.

What happens if I don't consent to a breathalyzer?

If you decline, the officer in your case will have to go to a judge and tell him or her that they believe you were driving under the influence of alcohol. The judge can issue a warrant for your blood and can then force you to provide a blood sample to determine your BAC. If you happen to have used any other illegal substances in the recent past, the blood test could reveal that. This could put you at risk for other charges besides just a DUI.

Though several law enforcement representatives have admitted that going this route will be more difficult, they say that they are willing to take these kinds of drastic measures. Even if you refuse to take a breathalyzer, your license can still be taken away. This is because that is an administrative process and not a criminal procedure.

Why did the Georgia Supreme Court make this ruling?

The court decided that allowing refusal to take a breath test to be used as evidence in a DUI case would have required a change to the Georgia Constitution. One justice said that even if the court thinks there is valid reason to make an alteration to the constitution, it is not within their scope to do so. That is something that the general assembly and the residents of this state should decide.

There are so many factors in play when considering DUI defense. Officers can make mistakes, as they are only human. Besides whether you consent to a breathalyzer, there may not have been probable cause to pull over your vehicle, or your field sobriety test may be incorrectly administered. Since a DUI arrest can result in a revoked license or affect your career, it is crucial to protect your rights. In spite of what many believe, it is possible to defend against DUI charges.

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