A positive blood test result in a DUI case may seem like a nail in the coffin, but it is not. Just because the test in your DUI came back with a result of .08 or greater does not mean you are on a one-way course to a conviction. There are innumerable ways your Georgia DUI defense attorney can challenge this test result, calling into question every step of the process to raise doubt about your guilt. The worst thing you can do when accused of a DUI is to simply lay your head and take whatever the prosecution gives you. These charges can and have been successfully fought with the aid of a top Georgia DUI defense attorney.
With the right legal representative in your corner, the aftermath of a DUI can be significantly less damaging to your record and career. Blood draws must be conducted by skilled professionals and the whereabouts of the blood sample must be meticulously recorded. This multi-step process is imperfect, and there is plenty of room for human error.
There is a strong chance that an inexperienced attorney who does not specialize in Georgia DUI law will not know how to effectively implement all the legal strategies available to challenge a Georgia DUI blood test. If you have blood test evidence against you and intend to protect yourself from the damage of a DUI conviction, waste no time in contacting a specialized Georgia DUI attorney immediately and begin learning how your specific case and blood test results can be challenged.
The Rights of a DUI Suspect in Georgia
Challenging a DUI blood test begins with an investigation into the DUI arrest itself. The police may have blood test evidence against you, but this evidence could prove inadmissible if law enforcement did not adhere to the strict guidelines dictating how to go about a DUI arrest. These guidelines are meant to protect Georgia citizens from unfair treatment that infringes on their rights. If your arresting officer did not uphold all of your rights or did not make you aware of them, you may be able to get your case dismissed.
In order to initiate a traffic stop, the officer must first have probable cause to pull you over, such as erratic driving or failure to obey traffic signs. After field sobriety tests, if the officer suspects you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will be taken to the station and required to give a sample of blood, breath or urine (chemical testing). Under Georgia law, chemical testing is not meant to be negotiable if there is concrete evidence that the suspect was behind the wheel.
Refusal of Chemical Testing
The doctrine of implied consent holds that anyone who operates a vehicle has already consented to give a sample of blood, breath or urine at any time to prove their sobriety if it is called into question. Despite the existence of this doctrine, you still have the right to refuse, though it comes with consequences: an automatic one-year license suspension. You have 30 days from the date of arrest to retain a Georgia DUI attorney and appeal your suspension. After these 30 days, your suspension cannot be appealed.
If you refuse, a warrant can be obtained to require you to provide a blood sample.
At your own expense and after the police obtain a blood sample, you can request another blood test from a qualified personnel of your own choosing. A Georgia citizen is fully within his or her rights to demand additional blood tests and Georgia must accommodate them if they choose to do so. If law enforcement chooses not to accommodate the request, their own blood test evidence against the suspect may be thrown out.
The Right to Be Informed
Law enforcement is required to inform you of all of your rights with regard to chemical testing and the consequences of your refusal. If they fail to do so, your lawyer can point to it as a failing on their part, which may help your case. Prior to administering the blood or breath test, law enforcement will read you an implied consent card, letting you know your rights in the situation.
How To Challenge DUI Blood Test Results
DUI suspects and even inexperienced attorneys incorrectly assume that numbers cannot lie. This is why some attorneys will encourage their clients to simply take plea deals because of the blood work evidence against them, without investigating or fighting the results. The science behind the process is imperfect and at times riddled with human error. To understand how to challenge results directly, it is important to understand the blood testing process. Your Georgia DUI attorney will be able to exploit the innate vulnerabilities of this testing system and in the best case scenario, get your blood work thrown out. The process is as follows.
- A trained professional conducts the blood draw, collecting an exact sample size. Sample size errors within a margin of even 1/10 will invalidate the result.
- Equipment must be sterilized to give a valid result. Contact with other unsterilized equipment, surfaces or objects could reasonably contaminate a sample and invalidate the result.
- The properly stored sample is transported to a lab, where it is heated in a closed vial. Any alcohol present in the sample becomes gas. A gas chromatograph analyzes the gaseous sample and determines the amount of alcohol that was in the blood.
- All equipment must be properly calibrated.
- The samples must be tested by skilled lab techs.
- As the sample changes hands before it arrives at the laboratory, its chain of custody must be recorded at every point. If the sample's whereabouts are unaccounted for, even for the shortest duration, the integrity of the sample cannot be guaranteed and the results are invalid.
- The proper storage of the sample can be probed by an attorney. If the sample was improperly stored, there is a chance fermentation could occur and artificially inflate the blood alcohol content reading.
Every DUI case is different, but one thing remains the same: if you have been charged with driving under the influence in Georgia, you should not proceed without an experienced DUI attorney at your side. Contact a Georgia DUI attorney immediately to review your case and begin building your legal defense.