Most Georgia drivers understand that if they are stopped under suspicion of being intoxicated, they will be asked to take either a blood or breath test to determine the alcoholic content of their blood. This content is usually expressed as a number of grams of alcohol in the suspect’s blood and is referred to as blood alcohol content (BAC). In light of the privilege against self-incrimination found in both the Georgia and United States constitutions, how can the state of Georgia force a driver to submit to one of these tests? The answer is the Georgia implied consent law.
How is the driver’s consent implied?
The Georgia implied consent law answers this question in its second sentence. Georgia considers the ability to operate a motor vehicle on the state’s roadways as a privilege that is contingent upon the implication that a driver has given his or her consent to a BAC test. A law enforcement officer who has reasonable grounds to believe a driver is intoxicated can pull over the driver and administer the test.
The implied consent statute requires the arresting officer to read a warning to the suspect informing the suspect that driving on Georgia’s roads is a privilege and that refusal to take the test can result in immediate revocation of driving privileges.
What happens if the driver refuses the officer’s request to submit to a blood or breath test?
The consequences of refusing an officer’s request to submit to a blood or breath test are swift and harsh. The suspect’s driver’s license will be immediately revoked for a period of one year. Moreover, the suspect’s refusal to take a blood or urine test can be offered in court to prove that the driver was in fact intoxicated.
How accurate are breath tests?
The state currently authorizes the use of the Intoxilyzer 9000. Many experienced defense attorneys believe that this instrument does not provide 100% accurate results and that its value as evidence of intoxication can be reduced or eliminated by proper cross-examination.
Anyone who has been stopped and asked to take a breath or blood test may wish to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible for advice.