Georgia's Implied Consent Law and DUIs
The rules concerning DUI in Georgia just became more interesting with a recent ruling that turned the idea of “implied consent” on its head. For nearly five decades, Georgia police have operated on the principle that implied consent allowed them to further investigate anyone they thought was guilty of DUI. This means that if the police thought the driver was operating the vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they were in a position to conduct an investigation.
Now the Georgia Supreme Court holds that the “implied consent” police have been assuming is does not construe actual consent. This ruling has been disrupting court proceedings since earlier this year. Savvy defendants are now getting their DUI cases thrown out by challenging the notion they provided consent to complete a blood, breath, or urine test. Their argument is that a person who is drunk or high is not able to give consent! This ruling could effectively impact all DUI arrests in Georgia. Drivers who are arrested for DUI and fail the field sobriety case have the ability to go to court and win the case because they didn't give consent. In fact, it is their constitutional right to do so.
If the judge rules that consent was not actually given, he is forced to throw out the sobriety test. Without that, the defendant's entire case can be overturned. The whole court case quickly turns into an absurdity with the defense saying their client was too drunk to give consent to a sobriety check and the prosecutor claiming that the defendant was sober enough to consent.
The general procedure used by police is that if you don't take the field sobriety test, you will lose your license for one year. This potential penalty is enough to make almost all people who are pulled over take the test. Arrests in Georgia start with the phrase: “Georgia law requires you to submit” which is taken by almost everyone who is pulled over to mean they must take the field sobriety test. If you've been charged with a DUI it's important you hire an attorney who understands all the implications of “implied consent” since they changed the law this year. Although some may view having a case thrown out on these terms as a “trick,” there are many who would argue it's a simple matter of exercising your constitutional rights to avoid an injustice.