If you are suspected of drunk driving in Georgia, you might question whether you have a right to refuse to take a breathalyzer test. You do, but refusing comes at a cost. So, it pays to know your rights.
There are things you can and can’t do to fight the driving under the influence (DUI) charges against you. An experienced DUI defense attorney can evaluate the tests given to you during a traffic stop. He can also help you build a strong defense. Contact The George McCranie Law Firm today to find out how we can help you with a DUI.
What Is Georgia’s Implied Consent Law?
When you drive on Georgia roads, you have consented to take a breathalyzer test or any other chemical test that could indicate whether you have alcohol or drugs in you. This is called “implied consent” under State law. So, if you are lawfully arrested for DUI or involved in a serious accident in Georgia, you can’t refuse to take a breathalyzer test (or other tests of body chemicals such as blood, urine, or saliva) unless you accept the consequences.
So, what happens if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test? You lose the right to drive. Violating the State’s implied consent law results in an automatic one-year suspension of your driver’s license with no possibility of obtaining a limited driving permit. Your refusal could also be used against you at your DUI trial. The prosecution may use this to show that you were uncooperative and had something to hide.
Another limit on your rights is that you do not have the right to consult an attorney before deciding to take the breathalyzer test. This makes it even more important that you know your rights and talk to an attorney immediately afterwards.
Your Right to Refuse Field Sobriety Tests
You may have little choice but to agree to take the arresting officer’s breathalyzer test. However, you are not obligated to agree to all requests the officer makes. The State’s implied consent law does not apply to field sobriety tests. So, you have the right to refuse any horizontal gaze nystagmus, one-leg stand, or walk-and-turn test that the law enforcement officer asks you to take.
Your Rights When Asked to Take a Breath Test
Breathalyzer tests have to be performed as required by law. This means that an arresting officer can only use designated procedures. For example, the officer must provide you the State’s “implied consent notice” when you are suspected of driving under the influence.
By reciting this notice, the officer is informing you that, under State law:
- you are required to submit to a breathalyzer test,
- there are penalties if you refuse, and
- you have the right to request an independent test.
The officer then must ask you whether you will take the breathalyzer test. If an officer does not give you the implied consent notice, the test results aren’t allowed to become evidence in your court case and your driver’s license can’t be suspended.
When law enforcement asks you to take a breathalyzer test, you also have the right to request an independent test. The independent test will be at your own expense and performed by qualified personnel you choose. It does not need to test your breath. So you could choose an independent test of your blood at a hospital from qualified medical professionals. You won’t be able to request an independent test, though, if you refuse to take the officer’s breathalyzer test.
If the officer doesn’t adequately accommodate your request for an independent test, your attorney can challenge the results of the officer’s breathalyzer test. The court will not allow it to be used as evidence against you in your DUI case if your request for an independent test was reasonable.
Contact a DUI Attorney If You’re Facing DUI Charges
Whether you refuse to take a breathalyzer test or not, it is in your best interest to get in touch with a DUI attorney as soon as possible after you’ve been arrested. DUI law is complex. You will need an experienced attorney that knows it well enough to support you and help defend your rights. Contact The George McCranie Law Firm today.