Issues Surrounding the Implied Consent Statute Get Some Key DUI Evidence Suppressed
A recent ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court may be challenging the constitutionality of some DUI chemical tests.
In March of this year, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that John Williams, who was pulled over for a suspected DUI in 2012, may not have “actually” consented to giving his blood. In Williams v. The State of Georgia (S14A1625), Williams was convicted of driving under the influence of drugs (DUI) (OCGA § 40-6-391) and failure to maintain a lane (OCGA § 40-6-48). Williams challenged that Georgia’s implied consent statute (OCGA § 40-5-55) is unconstitutional as applied to his case because he did not provide voluntary consent and officers did not obtain a search warrant.
In the State of Georgia, the implied consent statute deems that any person who is in physical control of a moving vehicle has, by default, given implied consent for blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substance tests if arrested for any offense arising out of acts alleged to be committed in violation of DUI laws (OCGA § 40-6-391). However, drivers must also give actual consent. Officers are required to read suspected DUI offenders the consent law, which, among other things, informs the suspected offender that denying the chemical test automatically results in a year’s suspension of his or her driver’s license. Therefore, some defense attorneys are claiming that the choice isn’t really much of a choice at all.
Additionally, when considering the concept of consent, a person must possess and exercise sufficient mental capacity to make an intelligent decision in order to waive his or her constitutional rights. If a person does not have this sufficient mental capacity, he is unable to make legally binding decisions for himself. Following this line of thought, a person can void a contract due to his intoxication at the time of signing, and judges will refuse to accept guilty pleas from individuals who are presently under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Therefore, it is not a distant leap to consider whether an intoxicated person is able to give consent for a DUI chemical test.
At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys, Patrick McDonough and Trinity Hundredmark, have combined experience of more than 30 years representing clients facing criminal charges in Georgia. For more information, or to request a case evaluation, contact our law office at 1-770-822-0900.