Being pulled over by the police can be a scary situation. However, if you have been drinking, you may be concerned about the potential criminal charges you will face.
Because of how serious DUI (driving under the influence) charges are, it is important to know your rights.
Here you can learn more about your rights when pulled over and suspected of DUI. We also recommend contacting our Atlanta DUI lawyer from the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines to help build a viable defense for your case.
Here you can learn more about your rights when the authorities request that you take a breath test.
What Does the Law Say?
In the state of Georgia, you have the right to refuse a blood, urine, or breath test when arrested for DUI.
These chemical tests are used to determine your BAC (blood alcohol level) when you are pulled over or arrested. If one of the test results shows that your BAC measures are over the legal limit, then you can be arrested.
The issue is that these tests are not always accurate.
Sometimes, the officer may not use the test properly, not follow the established procedure, or make a mistake when administering the test. Even in situations where the test results are not an accurate reflection of your BAC, you can be arrested and charged with a Georgia DUI.
Because of the issues that can arise with these tests, you need to know your legal options and rights when you agree to take or refuse these tests.
Georgia’s Implied Consent Law
The state of Georgia requires anyone operating a motor vehicle to submit to chemical testing if officers have probable cause that they are driving under the influence. The official name for this is the law of implied consent.
Every driver with a Georgia driver’s license is automatically bound to obey this law when they receive their license.
While this is the case, you can still refuse the BAC test. Unfortunately, some consequences will apply if you do this.
If you refuse the chemical test in Georgia, you may face the following penalties no matter if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or not:
- Refusal for the first time. You will face a one-year driver’s license suspension.
- Refusal for the second time. You will face a three-year driver’s license suspension.
- Refusal for a third time. You will face a five-year driver’s license suspension.
Is It a Good Idea to Refuse the Chemical Test When the Police Request One?
Refusing to take a chemical test in Georgia means the officer can take your license from you. If this happens, they will give you a temporary driving permit.
When you receive this, it does not mean that your license is automatically suspended.
At this point, you can file a hearing request. This request is filed with the Georgia Department of Driver Services. When you do this, it may give you the ability to appeal the suspension of your license and protect your driving privileges.
Before going through the appeal hearing, it is smart to speak with and hire our professional criminal defense team. We can work to ensure that you have the best shot at a successful appeal.
Georgia law allows a chemical test to be given to a driver (any driver) if an officer suspects them of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Usually, the officer who first stops you will administer the test. The test results will be used to determine if you were driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, or a combination of these.
A chemical test can examine your urine, blood, and breath. However, the testing method used depends on the situation.
One example is with an officer that suspects you are driving while intoxicated by alcohol. In this case, they will likely use a breath test to measure your intoxication level. However, if the officer believes a drug or substance impairs you, they will likely request a blood test.
When the authorities request that you submit to a chemical test to determine if you are intoxicated, you can say “no.” However, as mentioned above, there are consequences to refusing this testing.
If you are suspected of DUI and refuse the chemical test, you may receive a hard suspension of your driver’s license. This means that your license will be suspended for one year, and you will have not permitted allowances to drive to necessary locations.
Preventing the Loss of Your License After Refusing a Chemical Test
At this point, you should request an administrative hearing. This will be scheduled within 10 days of when you were pulled over and charged with DUI. It can help you avoid the hard suspension of your license.
If your license situation is viewed favorably at the hearing, you can avoid suspension. This is also true if you are found not guilty when your case goes to trial and for situations who enter a guilty plea to reckless driving charges and convince the officer to withdraw Form 1205.
Understanding the issues that may arise if you refuse chemical testing in Georgia will help you know what you want to do.
What Happens if You Don’t Request an Administrative Hearing?
If you are arrested for a Georgia DUI, the police officer must read the information that lets you know about your privileges for driving in Georgia. This information includes the fact that if you refuse the test, you will lose your driver’s license for up to one year.
As mentioned above, you can request an administrative hearing and plead your case to keep your license or at least receive a restricted license to drive to work, school, medical appointments, and other necessary things.
If you do not request this hearing, then you will lose your license for the full amount of time mentioned in the list above.
Potential Malfunctions with Breath Test Machines
If you agree to take a chemical test, like the breath test, you need to understand that the machines used for this can (and often do) malfunction. Because of this, the law in Georgia allows you to undergo testing by an independent provider you choose, along with the officer-issued test.
Instead of refusing this type of test, it may be helpful to submit to it and then challenge the results it shows in court. Regardless of what you decide to do, you can contact our legal team at the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines for advice, guidance, and the development of a strong defense strategy.
Common Questions about Georgia DUI Laws
At the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines, we take pride in defending our client’s rights and helping them achieve the best possible outcome for their cases.
While we are happy to answer any questions you have, some of the most common ones we are asked have been answered here.
Can the police arrest you for DUI while you are on private property?
It is important to note that DUI laws in Georgia do not distinguish between you driving on private property or a public road. This means you can face DUI charges on a highway, private property, or street.
Additionally, the DUI laws in the state apply to all motor vehicles. This includes golf carts and tractors. It is worth noting that being on private property is not a valid (or a successful) defense for driving under the influence in Georgia.
Can you receive a DUI if the police never saw you driving a vehicle?
It is not required that the police see you driving a vehicle if adequate circumstantial evidence proves you were driving recently.
For example, if a police officer comes to the scene of an accident and you are the only person close to a vehicle, and the engine is still warm, it is only reasonable to assume that you were the vehicle’s driver when the accident occurred.
It is also possible for the police to approach a stopped or parked vehicle and talk to you if you are sitting or sleeping with the vehicle’s lights or ignition on. In many cases, this alone is enough to show you were “in control” of the vehicle or that you had been driving recently.
In the state of Georgia, circumstantial evidence is often enough to show that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Why didn’t the officer read your Miranda Rights?
The police only have to inform you about your Miranda rights in certain circumstances. These rights apply to situations after being taken into custody and detained by the police. They must also be read to you before an interrogation. You are “in custody” of the police when you are put in a location where you are no longer free to leave.
You will not be read your Miranda rights before answering an officer about whether you will take a chemical test. However, there are other situations where you should be read these rights.
If you are concerned that the police did not follow the proper procedures, then you should speak to our Atlanta criminal defense attorney.
Don’t Wait to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney for Help with Your DUI Charges
If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Atlanta, you can get in touch with our legal team at the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines. We have decades of experience defending individuals in similar situations. We will learn about your case and help you achieve the best possible outcome.
While there are no guarantees in these cases, we will use our expertise to ensure that you don’t take unnecessary risks regarding your life, freedom, and ability to earn.