DUIs In GA Could Be Changing Forever
The Georgia Supreme Court has issued a new ruling that may make it more difficult for prosecutors to use the results of breathalyzer tests, or refusals of those tests, against accused drunk drivers in court. A local reporter spoke with experts to find out just what the ruling would mean for drivers.
In the ruling, the Supreme Court has made it clear that an officer cannot compel a driver to take a breathalyzer test, nor can the refusal of a test lead to the assumption of guilt. DUI attorneys say that the ruling will no longer prevent drivers from exercising their rights in fear of being presumed guilty of the offense.
The Case Leading to the Ruling
The ruling stems from a case in Gwinnett County in which a driver challenged breathalyzer evidence used in his case because he claimed to have been coerced into taking the test. That coercion, his attorneys said, were a violation of the man’s state constitutional rights. Although the man’s conviction will not be overturned because of the ruling, what the ruling will do is change the way police interact with drivers.
According to documents from the original case, the man was pulled over by a Gwinnett County police officer because the man failed to maintain lane and had no tail lights. A second officer observed the man to have watery and bloodshot eyes and slow speech. The man was also observed to be slurring his words. The officer performed field sobriety tests, including an Alco-sensor test, and placed the man under arrest.
The man was then read the implied consent notice, which states, in part: “If you refuse this testing, your Georgia driver’s license or privilege to drive on the highways of this state will be suspended for a minimum period of one year. Your refusal to submit to the required testing may be offered into evidence against you at the trial.” As a result, the man agreed to take a breathalyzer test and registered a 0.113.
The man’s lawyer filed a motion to suppress the results of the test, and the attorney challenged the constitutionality of the state’s implied consent notice. The court denied the motion and the man was convicted. The man appealed his conviction to the Georgia Supreme Court and the ruling was issued as a result.
In its ruling, the state Supreme Court said, in part: “We agree with [name omitted] that submitting to a breath test implicates a person’s right against compelled self-incrimination under the Georgia Constitution, and we overrule prior decisions that held otherwise.”
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in Atlanta, you need a strong defense attorney on your side. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. We will review the details of your case and advise you of your legal options.