Arrested For a DUI in Georgia
Under the implied consent laws in the State of Georgia, all licensed drivers must take a blood, breath or urine test to determine the presence of drugs or alcohol in their system. When an officer suspects a person of driving under the influence (DUI), they must submit to taking a chemical test of their blood, breath or urine. Breathalyzer test results are often inaccurate because hand-held machines must be calibrated every six months. Most experts admit that one breath test is not reliable evidence.
Once the person has been arrested, the officer must inform them of the consequences of refusing to take the test.
Officers Must Have Probable Cause
The laws in Georgia requires law enforcement officers to have knowledge that the suspect was in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This means that a person can be arrested for a DUI even if the vehicle was not moving at the time. Police officer must have probable cause to pull someone over for suspicion of drunk driving. Simply weaving without crossing the lines in the road does not constitute probable cause. Once an officer has stopped the vehicle, they will often ask the driver to participate in several field sobriety tests. The three standard field sobriety tests officers will conduct include the following:
• One Leg Stand—The officer will request that the suspect stand on one leg for a set amount of time. In order for the test to be performed properly, the foot of the suspect must be raised six inches off the ground while the other foot is parallel to the ground, with toes pointing forward. The officer will be looking for any signs of impairment, such as lack or coordination or balance. Certain conditions can impact the results of the test, including physical disabilities, bad weather or poor lighting.
• Walk and Turn—The suspect will be asked to take nine steps in a heel to toe fashion while walking in a straight line. After the person reaches the ninth step, they must turn around on one foot and walk back in the opposite direction. The officer will be trying to see if the suspect can maintain their balance while performing this test. A person can fail this test if it was performed on an uneven or slippery surface.
• Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus—During this test, a flashlight is placed directly in front of the suspect’s face and waved back and forth from each side. The officer observes the driver’s eyes to check for signs of involuntary jerking which can often occur when someone is under the influence of alcohol. There are many reasons a person might fail this test, including inner ear problems, hypertension or suffering from glaucoma.
All field sobriety tests in the State of Georgia are optional, although most law enforcement officers will rarely tell drivers who have been pulled over on suspicion of DUI.
The Consequences of Refusing a DUI Test
When a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test, the officer will take their driver’s license and give them a 30-day permit. The penalty for refusing a DUI test will result in a one-year suspension of the person’s driver’s license. This is categorized as a hard suspension, which means that the individual is not eligible for a work or hardship merit. The person can request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge within 10 business days in order to avoid suspension of their license. The arresting officer must be present at this hearing; otherwise the judge case will dismiss the case. If the person loses their case, they can still get their license back one month after the suspension begins. They must complete a Risk Reduction Course and pay a reinstatement fee of $210. Once this is done, the individual will get their license back within 120 days.
When to Consult a Georgia Drunk Driving Lawyer
The law requires anyone administering a breath test to have a valid operator’s license otherwise the results will be deemed inadmissible in court. Police officers who administer blood tests often fail to follow the recommended rules of testing and analysis. There are many ways to defend against a DUI charge and an experienced Atlanta DUI attorney might even get the case dismissed.
When a DUI related collision occurs, maximize the recovery by retaining the services of your T. Madden & Associates Atlanta Attorney. Don’t attempt to fight the insurance companies by yourself. You don't have to look anywhere else for attorneys that will fight for your rights and your money.