Georgia Implied Consent Ruling

State High Court Upholds DUI Law Along with Limits Pair of Cases
Had Tested Doctrine

October 4, 2005

News 4 Georgia

ATLANTA — The implied consent law which gives law enforcement
officers power to require chemical tests of suspected drunken drivers in
certain circumstances survived a challenge Monday before the Georgia
Supreme Court.

But in a pair of related cases, consolidated into one ruling, the
court made clear there are limits to that power.

Chemical tests can only be required if two conditions are met: an
individual has been involved in a traffic accident resulting in serious
injuries or deaths and the investigating officer has probable cause to
believe the individual was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The decision was unanimous.

The court ruled two years ago that the implied consent law was
unconstitutional to the extent it required a blood test regardless of
whether an officer had probable cause to believe the driver was under the
influence.

Monday’s ruling resulted from new challenges filed by two men charged
with driving under the influence after separate car crashes.

Lawyers for the state argued this summer that the Supreme Court’s
earlier ruling did not apply to the two men because police had probable
cause to suspect both of drunken driving.

While leaving the implied consent law intact, the court’s decision
Monday produced different results for the two men challenging it.

In one, the court dismissed a claim that the defendant was not
properly placed under arrest before his implied consent rights were read
to him. The court said he had been injured in a traffic accident, the
officer had probable cause to believe he was under the influence and no
arrest was required.

In the other, however, there was no injury as defined by the law, even
though there was probable cause for the investigator to believe he was
drinking. His lawyers argued that his refusal to submit to a blood test
should have been suppressed at trial because he was not arrested before
his implied consent rights were read.

The Supreme Court agreed.

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