Just last month, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled on an important distinction
between complying with implied consent laws during DUI stops and actual
"free and voluntary" consent. In its decision, the court ruled
that drivers who consent to a blood test during DUI do so because they
are compelled by potential penalties—not genuine consent. When this
is the case, the test can be considered a violation of Fourth Amendment
rights against unreasonable searches.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports , the legal community has yet to see how the decision will affect
DUI law—the decision's implications are still being reviewed--
but many are bracing for big changes. Professor of government at the University
of North Carolina Shea Denning told
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution "This could be a huge decision." Even the attorney who filed
the suit that yielded the ruling says few of his peers thought his assertions
would be recognized. "Some lawyers and judges looked at me cross-eyed.
They said I was crazy," said the lawyer, Lance Tyler.
Georgia's implied consent law has been in place since the 1960s and,
like in many other states, has allowed law enforcement to quickly measure
suspected drivers' blood alcohol content. The law itself has gone
through several significant revisions:
- In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that DUI stops could be considered
an "emergency" because a driver's metabolism could be processing
the alcohol in his/her system and, thus, is destroying evidence. This
was reversed in 2013.
- In 2005, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the law did not allow for
law enforcement to seek a warrant when drivers refused a blood test. That
ruling was reversed the following year.
Imagining a New, Revised Law
In the short term, warrants will be key for officers to compel drivers
to take a DUI blood test, but if the Georgia Supreme Court decision prompts
a revision of the law—like many predict—warrants may be the
future for securing DUI chemical test results from drivers.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, Frank
Rotondo, sounded optimistic about any new obstacles for DUI enforcement.
He noted that there are already existing systems in development which
would allow for officers to request and receive warrants electronically,
right on the road. As Rotondo notes: "All [court] decisions that
seem not to favor law enforcement make us get better and make cases tighter."
If you have been charged with a DUI and need counsel that has a grip on
current DUI law, then it is time you contact the
Thomas & Willis, LLC today. Our legal team has kept our finger on the pulse of this issue since
the decision was announced while other firms are still failing to address
it on behalf of their clients.
Get the cutting-edge counsel you deserve from a driven Atlanta DUI defense
attorney. Contact us for a
free case evaluation.