Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Savannah, GA?
Examining Georgia's Implied Consent Laws
Many people are unsure of what rights they possess when they have been pulled over by a law enforcement officer and are asked to submit to some form of sobriety testing—whether it be a field sobriety test, breathalyzer test, blood test or urine test. If they have consumed any amount of alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel, an individual may be hesitant to consent. According to Georgia Code §40-5-55, however, implied consent laws require anyone with a state driver's license to adhere to the requests of a law enforcement officer when they are suspected of drunk driving. This means that you cannot lawfully refuse a chemical test without facing certain legal ramifications. Should you choose to do so, however, you could still be arrested and charged with a DUI offense.
Common Questions Regarding Chemical Test Refusal
As a Savannah DUI defense firm, we are asked the same questions about "implied consent" time and time again. For this reason, we thought that it was necessary to address some of the most important implications of this law—including the potential penalties that you could face if you refuse a chemical test and the rights that you possess during a police stop. If your questions have not been answered by the Q&A's listed below, however, we encourage you to contact The Schneider Law Firm directly.
Do implied consent laws apply to everyone in the state of Georgia?
Once you have obtained a valid driver's license in Georgia, you have inadvertently agreed to abide by the state's implied consent laws. This means that you are required to submit to chemical testing if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that you have been operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Although you are afforded the option to refuse, you cannot do so without facing subsequent legal penalties.
What are the penalties of refusing a chemical test (breath, blood or urine)?
In the state of Georgia, you will be subjected to mandatory penalties if you refuse to submit to a breath, blood or urine test at a law enforcement officer's request. Once you have refused, the officer will confiscate your license and issue a 30-day permit. If you do not request a hearing to challenge the pending suspension, your driving privileges will be revoked for one year. The length of suspension will be increased for every subsequent refusal (three years for a second refusal and five years for a third).
How long would I have to contest the suspension of my driver's license?
When a law enforcement officer confiscates an individual's license, they are required to file a DDS Form 1205 with the Department of Driver Services. This will result in a "hard suspension" after the 30-day permit expires, unless the driver schedules an administrative hearing within 10 days of the revocation. In doing so, they would have the opportunity to contest the pending suspension and fight for the reinstatement of their driving privileges.
Can I get my license back even after the suspension has been put into effect?
In some cases, an individual can get their driver's license back even after the suspension has been put into effect. One month after the suspension begins, they can complete an alcohol and drug-use risk reduction program and pay a fee of $210. If their license was confiscated for a second refusal, however, they must wait 18 months before they can apply for a reinstatement. It would be the same case for a third refusal, except the individual would only qualify for a probationary license after two years.
Should I refuse a mandatory chemical test if I had previously been drinking?
Although the penalties associated with violating Georgia's implied consent laws are milder than those imposed after a DUI conviction, it may not necessarily help your case to refuse a chemical test. Since the law enforcement officer can still choose to arrest you for a DUI offense, refusing to cooperate will not necessarily prevent you from being convicted. In fact, the prosecution may use this as ammunition against you—as it is typically argued that no one refuses unless they have something to hide.
What if the officer did not inform me of the penalties before I refused?
According to Georgia Code §40-5-55, all law enforcement officers are required to inform a driver of the potential penalties that they could face if they refuse to submit to a chemical test—since many are not aware that there would be consequences at all. Should an officer fail to do so, the driver may have valid grounds to contest the ramifications of their refusal. This would, for example, be a legitimate reason to request the reinstatement of your driver's license during a subsequent hearing.
Still have questions about your DUI case? Contact our firm today!
If you still have questions about Georgia's implied consent laws and/or the rights that you possess after a chemical test refusal, the legal team at The Schneider Law Firm encourages you to tell us about your case. All you have to do is pick up the phone and contact our firm at (912) 385-0854 to schedule an initial consultation with one of our Savannah DUI attorneys. From there, our firm will be there every step of the way to guide you through the subsequent legal process—regardless of the circumstances that you may be facing.