What Does Implied Consent Mean For You?
Perhaps the simplest explanation is to say that it means what it sounds like – that by driving on the roads of this state, if you are arrested for DUI, you have impliedly consented to provide a blood, breath, or urine sample at the request of a law enforcement officer. But it’s not that simple. You actually have the right to refuse such a test, but there are important consequences that follow.
When you are detained for suspicion of driving under the influence in Georgia, you can expect a few things are likely to happen. The police officer will ask if you if you have been drinking, and will ask you to step out of the car to take part in a battery of “field sobriety tests.” These tests may include walking a straight line, standing on one foot, or following a pen with your eyes. You may also be asked to blow into a portable breathalyzer to estimate your blood alcohol level.
You can decline to answer these questions and to perform these roadside tests. There is an important difference, however, between the roadside “alcosensor” test, and the state-administered “Intoxilyzer” test, given after you are arrested. There is no direct consequence to refusing the alcosensor (other than it will almost guarantee your arrest), but refusing the Intoxilyzer breath test at the station has significant consequences, particularly a 12-month hard suspension of your driver’s license.
My Drivers License Can Be Suspended Just For Refusing a Breath Test?
If you refuse an Intoxilyzer breath test after arrest, you will served with a notice of license suspension. You are entitled to a hearing before an administrative law judge, so long as you demand such a hearing within 10 business days of your arrest. Driving is a privilege, not a right. When you apply for a driver’s license, you have to go through a few steps before you can obtain it. You have to pass a vision test. You have to pass a rules of the road test to make sure you understand the traffic laws. You have to pass an actual driving test to demonstrate that you are capable of properly maneuvering a vehicle.
Can They Force Me into a Chemical Test?
The police cannot physically force you to blow into a breathalyzer. They can, however, get a search warrant to forcibly draw your blood and test it for alcohol and drug content. In 2006, the Georgia General Assembly passed a law specifically authorizing law enforcement in Georgia to apply for a search warrant for chemical testing in a DUI case where a driver refuses to submit.
The end result is severe: Your license can suspended for the refusal, and the State can use the evidence obtained from the blood test in court. It seems patently unfair, because it is. But judges routinely allow drivers licenses to be suspended for a refusal, even where to police obtained a test result from a search warrant.
What If I’m Arrested?
If you are arrested for DUI, or your license is suspended for refusing a chemical test, the first thing you should do is call an experienced Atlanta DUI attorney. At Hawkins Spizman Kilgo, we have decades of combined experience representing clients who have been arrested for DUI. Your initial consultation is free. Call now at 770-685-6400.