If a driver makes some basic mistakes like failing to notice a stop sign or swerving out of a traffic lane, a police officer may suspect that person of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Although that officer has the right to request a driver takes a breath alcohol test, the driver is not required to give it under Georgia law.
How do we know about the consequences of refusing a breath test?
The Supreme Court in Atlanta recently ruled in a case called Eliot v. State that Georgia's constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination applies to breath alcohol tests, often known as Breathalyzer tests. This means that a driver's refusal to take a Breathalyzer test cannot be held against him or her in court.
Does this cause a problem for prosecutors in drunk driving cases?
The court admitted in its opinion that driving under the influence may now be harder to punish under the law. However, the judges also acknowledge the inviolability of the constitution's section regarding self-incrimination. This means that another similar case may be brought on the same lines if the court ruled otherwise.
How do drivers defend against drunk driving charges?
Drivers accused of operating a motor vehicle while impaired or intoxicated have the right under Georgia and federal law to defend themselves with evidence and challenge any evidence brought by prosecutors. This is often done through legal representation, which is always advisable when someone is facing criminal charges of any kind. An attorney can challenge the admissibility of Breathalyzer tests and other elements of a drunk driving case.