Understanding Georgia's Implied Consent Law

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in every state, including Georgia. To combat drunk driving and the risks it poses to public safety, Georgia has enacted an implied consent law. This statute dictates that, by driving on the state's roads, you automatically consent to chemical testing for the presence of drugs or alcohol in your system when lawfully requested by a police officer. 

Georgia's Implied Consent Law: The Basics

Under Georgia Code § 40-5-67.1, drivers implicitly agree to submit to chemical testing of their breath, blood, or urine if an officer has probable cause to believe they are driving under the influence. This law applies to both alcohol and drug-related DUIs. When you are pulled over by law enforcement, you may be asked to take a field sobriety test or a preliminary breath test (also known as an alco-sensor test) at the scene. While these tests can help establish probable cause, they are not considered the official chemical tests under implied consent law.

Refusal & Its Consequences

If you refuse to submit to the state-administered chemical test, your Georgia driver's license may be administratively suspended for one year. This suspension is separate from any criminal penalties you may face if convicted of a DUI. Additionally, your refusal can be used against you in court, as it may be considered evidence of guilt.

There is a limited window of time to appeal this administrative suspension. You have 30 days from the date of your arrest to request an administrative license suspension (ALS) hearing. If you do not request this hearing, your license will automatically be suspended on the 31st day after your arrest.

Potential Defenses

Though the implied consent law seems straightforward, there are potential defenses that an experienced attorney can use to challenge the legality of the chemical test or the arrest itself.

Some possible defenses include:

  • No Probable Cause: If the officer did not have probable cause to arrest you for DUI, your attorney may be able to argue that the chemical test should be suppressed, and the charges dismissed or reduced.
  • Improper Administration of the Test: If the officer did not properly administer the chemical test or follow the required procedures, the test results may be deemed inadmissible in court.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions can affect the results of chemical tests. An experienced attorney can evaluate your situation and determine if this defense applies to your case.

Understanding Georgia's implied consent law is crucial for anyone driving in the state. Refusing a chemical test can result in severe consequences, but there are potential defenses that an experienced attorney can use to protect your rights. If you have been arrested for a DUI or are facing an administrative license suspension, it is essential to consult with an experienced DUI attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of Georgia's implied consent law and safeguard your future.