People are often confused about what rights they have when an officer pulls them over for drunk driving. While every state has separate laws on DUIs and how to enforce them, all states have one version or another of implied consent laws.
The question of what you can refuse to say or do when the officer asks you to submit to breath or field sobriety tests is important because the officer is gathering information to hold against you later. For residents of Toccoa and Greater North Georgia, it is essential to have experienced and strong defense against DUI and implied consent charges.
What is implied consent?
The legal theory behind implied consent laws is that a driver’s license is a permit allowing the holder to drive on a public road in exchange for their compliance with traffic laws and their enforcement. In other words, driving is a privilege, not a right, that the driver may lose if they break the law.
If an officer suspects that the driver is intoxicated and arrests them, implied consent laws require that the driver submit to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test to determine if they are above the legal limit set by state law. in Georgia, the legal limit is:
- 08% for drivers 21 and older
- 04% for commercial drivers
- 02% for drivers under the age of 21
The question becomes, which tests must the driver submit to? The driver does not have to submit to any test that the officer requests before arrest, and should not, as this can and will be used against the driver at trial. Field sobriety tests are legal, but they are not scientific and can count against an individual who normally has trouble with balance or walking a straight line. Likewise, a roadside breath test can be flawed if the officer doesn’t properly administer it.
What is the Georgia implied consent warning?
A clause in the Georgia Constitution protects a suspect from being compelled to self-incriminate, which defense attorneys have used more than once to argue against forcing a suspect to submit to a breath or chemical test. To address such challenges to implied consent laws, the Georgia legislature passed HB 471, a law that requires an officer to read an Implied Consent notice to the suspect before administering a test.
After an arrest, the officer must read this notice informing the suspect that implied consent laws require them to submit to a blood or breath test, and that refusal will result in the revocation of their driving privileges for a minimum of one year.