If you get pulled over for suspicion of DUI in Georgia, you have the right to refuse to take a breath test or give a blood or urine sample to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC), though that refusal will come with serious automatic consequences to your driving privileges regardless of whether you are above or below the legal threshold. But even if you refuse a test, law enforcement still may be able to get the sample it’s looking for through what’s known as, unsurprisingly, “No Refusal” DUI testing.
Whether you know it or not, when you applied for and received your Georgia driver’s license, you gave your “implied consent” to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test if an officer reasonably suspects that you were driving under the influence. You can refuse to take the test and essentially “revoke” that consent (and the officer can’t force you to give a sample), however there are serious consequences that will automatically follow your refusal, including a mandatory one-year license suspension and use of that refusal against you in court, even if you are ultimately not convicted on a DUI charge.
While the text of Georgia’s implied consent law states that “no test shall be given” after an individual accepts the foregoing consequences that automatically come with refusing the test, state lawmakers inserted a provision into the law in 2006 specifying that law enforcement could obtain the desired samples after obtaining “a search warrant as authorized by the Constitution or laws of this state or the United States.” In January 2014, the Georgia Court of Appeals found this law to be valid.
As such, police can and do obtain search warrants that allow them to forcibly obtain the samples they can then use in DUI prosecutions. For example, in June the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police, working with the local district attorney’s office, a local judge, and officers across the state, launched “Operation Thunder” to secure warrants to draw blood from drivers who refuse state administered testing to confirm blood alcohol levels.
The bottom line for Georgia drivers is that while they may be prepared to live with the consequences of declining to take a breath or other test to determine their BAC, Georgia law enforcement has the power to get that information anyway simply by obtaining a valid warrant.
J. Alan Welch: Your Brunswick and Southeast Georgia DUI Defense Lawyer
If you’re facing a DUI charge, give me a call today at (912) 265-9811 for a free consultation. Together, we’ll work to preserve your driving privileges as we develop the best defense strategy for your particular case. I look forward to speaking with you.
This article has been prepared by J. Alan Welch Law for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.