Have you been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs? A driver facing arrest for DUI has a number of rights before the law, and if these rights are violated, the charges and evidence obtained during the arrest may be deemed invalid before the court. If you were arrested for impaired driving, it is important that you understand these rights and speak with a talented DUI defense team as soon as possible to ensure you are protected.
If you are arrested under suspicion of intoxicated driving, Georgia law requires you to submit to chemical testing. Because driving is deemed a privilege and not a right, the state can place conditions and restrictions on your driving privileges and can and will suspend your license if you refuse to submit to the requested testing. The arresting officer must have reasonable grounds to believe you had been driving or in actual physical control of a moving vehicle while under the influence of alcohol in order to request chemical testing.
Reasonable grounds may include erratic driving along with bloodshot eyes, an odor of alcohol coming from your person, slurred speech, clues observed during your performance of field sobriety tests, as well as your statements or admissions. The arresting officer must read the appropriate Georgia Implied Consent Notice depending on your age or driver's license status. There are separate notices for drivers age 21 or over, underage drivers, and drivers of commercial vehicles. In addition there are different rules that apply to out of state drivers who get arrested in Georgia. The implied consent notice must be read in its entirety and at the time of arrest.
"At the time of arrest" has been somewhat construed by the courts, and has varied in different factual situations. In most cases, the officer should read the implied consent notice directly after placing you in handcuffs, which formally places you under arrest. The officer should not wait until you have arrived at the police station or hospital to request testing but certain exigent circumstances may excuse a delayed advisement of your implied consent rights. If you are in an accident and rendered unconscious or are otherwise incapable of understanding the implied consent notice, you are deemed to have not withdrawn your consent.
The same applies if you do not speak or understand the English language. If you are hearing impaired, however, the officer is required to request a qualified interpreter prior to informing you of your rights. One of the most important advisements contained in the implied consent notice is your right to an independent test of your own choosing, at your own expense, and by personnel of your own choosing, though you are not entitled to an independent test until after you have submitted to the state's breath, blood, or urine test.
That means that if you refuse to take the state's chemical test, you will not be allowed to get an independent test. You must make your request for an independent test within a reasonable time after being read your implied consent rights. Your request does not have to be made directly to the arresting officer and can be made after rescinding your initial refusal of the state test.The officer must make reasonable efforts to accommodate you in obtaining an independent test.
If the officer prevents you from obtaining an independent test after you have requested one, the results of the state test you submitted to can be suppressed and not admissible as evidence against you at trial. You must have the necessary funds to pay for the test, but the officer must also allow you a reasonable opportunity to make arrangements to obtain those funds and locate your desired testing facility. That may include being taken to a nearby ATM to get sufficient cash or being allowed to use your cell phone to locate a hospital that would accept a credit card.
There are many nuances to Georgia's implied consent law and in many cases a misleading statement made by the arresting officer can render the results of the state's test inadmissible due to a violation of your rights. Not having direct evidence of your blood alcohol content significantly weakens the prosecution's case against you, so it is imperative that you enlist the aggressive advocacy of an experienced DUI defense firm