Recent changes to the evidentiary rules in driving while intoxicated (DUI) arrests can affect Georgia drivers’ constitutional rights against self-incrimination.
Known as the Elliott decision, this decision by the Georgia Supreme Court determined that it’s unconstitutional for police and prosecutors to submit evidence that a driver refused a breath test. The state high court found that violated defendants’ Fifth Amendment rights.
However, courts can still weigh the refusal of a motorist to submit to blood alcohol testing.
Why the difference?
The Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit district attorney explained it thusly:
“Blowing into the machine is sort of a verbal act, which you’re giving testimony in effect through your breath sample. Blood being taken is more of a passive act, [as] you’re not giving it, you’re sort of submitting to it.”
Policy changes result from ruling
Some law enforcement agencies tweaked their DUI policies as a result of the ruling. Motorists who refuse to blow will no longer have their decision used against them in court. That has caused police officers to refrain from administering the tests at all in some cases.
Police still have the right to seek a warrant from a local magistrate in cases where the driver refuses the blood test.
If you are stopped and detained on DUI charges, it is advisable to remain silent and speak to a criminal defense attorney before answering questions or providing any evidence to police. That allows you to preserve all of your rights and avoid any legally questionable moves that could jeopardize your right to a fair trial if the officer places you under arrest.