Late in February, the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled that prosecutors can't say if a defendant has previously declined a Breathalyzer test when trying a drunk driving case. In the past few days, senators were supposed to discuss whether roadside breath tests should be made mandatory in the state. The latest push to get these laws changed comes at a time when prosecutors are struggling to get convictions in these cases.
Under current laws, police officers who suspect that a motorist is drunk have to take them into custody. They must then bring them to a local hospital to have blood tests performed to see how intoxicated they are.
When the supreme court justices entered their ruling in late February, it resulted in police having to relay a different message to individuals when they're stopped. They're now not allowed to tell them that their refusal to comply with breath testing can adversely impact their court case. Even still, police can require them to submit to blood, breath and urine testing.
At this point, it will take a constitutional amendment to overturn the supreme court's ruling on the matter. Many legal analysts have argued that the proposed amendment violates an individual's protection against self-incrimination.
It's unlikely that lawmakers will have a chance to push for the constitutional amendment until the next legislative session gets underway. Until then, prosecutors will have to rely on police testimony about a defendant's slurred speech or dashcam footage of them failing field sobriety tests or swerving their car.
Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges are no laughing matter. Georgia motorists who take to the road drunk put others at risk of becoming injured or being killed. Individuals in Hinesville who are convicted of drunk-driving offenses may put their ability to retain employment at risk. A DUI/DWI attorney can help you craft an aggressive defense if you've been accused of drunk driving yourself.