The Georgia Senate recently passed what it is characterizing as a "temporary fix" to the Georgia DUI law, following the Georgia Supreme Court's ruling that part of the law unconstitutional.
The Senate, in a 46-4 vote, approved changes to the Georgia implied consent law. The change would permit law enforcement to use a person's refusal to submit to urine or blood tests against that person as evidence at trial. Last month, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that a driver's refusal to take a breathalyzer test cannot be used against them at trial.
The Georgia House passed similar legislation on Tuesday, namely, House Bill 471. That law would also apply to those accused of operating a boat or hunting under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As a result of this legislation, prosecutors in the state are already encouraging police to obtain warrants for blood and urine tests as part of their effort to combat intoxicated driving.
As the Georgia legislature continues to make changes to Georgia DUI laws, it is important to have an attorney experienced in handling these changes and defend your DUI case. An experienced Gwinnett County DUI attorney can defend your case to protect your constitutional rights.
Right Against Self-Incrimination
According to the Georgia Supreme Court, your refusal to consent to a breath test can no longer be used against you as evidence at trial, as it violates your right against self-incrimination under the Georgia constitution.
Previously, any refusal to submit to a breath test was used as circumstantial evidence that you were intoxicated at the time of your arrest, and you were attempting to hide it from police by refusing the breath test.
This type of "inference" of guilt is completely inappropriate, and thanks to the Georgia Supreme Court, is finally considered unconstitutional. If a Georgia prosecutor continues to attempt to use such a refusal against you in court, it can be challenged and kept out of trial. Improper evidence should not be allowed into trial.
Police will now put much more effort into obtaining blood and urine tests when a breath test is refused. These tests must be performed at approved medical sites, or at properly equipped police departments and jails. This extra step may deter some officers and departments because of the difficulty and cost, but most will likely pursue this evidence to use against you at trial.
Under the new law, if it passes, refusal to consent to these blood or urine tests could be used against you in court. Whether this change is constitutional is an open question and one that will very likely be challenged. In the meantime, however, many different individuals could have this information used against them in court.
Consult a Gwinnett County DUI Attorney
If you or someone you care about has been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, an experienced Gwinnett County DUI attorney can defend your case and protect your constitutional rights. Contact us today for a free consultation of your case.