After the police pull you over in Atlanta, whatever the reason for the traffic stop, they will start asking questions, in part to see whether you might be intoxicated. They may ask where you are coming from, and if you've had anything to drink. The whole time, the Georgia State Patrol or Atlanta Police officer will be looking for signs of alcohol impairment. This could be slurred speech, the smell of alcohol, open containers in the car, or bloodshot eyes. Even that may be enough for the police to arrest you for driving under the influence. However, they will be looking for whatever extra evidence they can before placing you under arrest.
Two kinds of evidence the police may try and gather are field sobriety test and chemical breath test results. Field sobriety tests are the roadside tests including the walk and turn test, one leg stand test, and the eye test. Failing these somewhat arbitrary tests may give the police additional evidence of intoxication. The field breath test is another way for police to investigate whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol. Both of these tests are voluntary and not required by law.
Breath Test Refusal
The field breath test, or breathalyzer, analyzes the driver's breath to calculate an approximate blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Under Georgia law, any driver with a BAC of 0.08% or higher is considered intoxicated. For drivers under 21 years old, the limit is only 0.02%. The police may make it seem like you will get arrested if you don't submit to a field breath test, but if they are asking for a breath test, they were likely going to arrest the driver anyway.
Once you are placed under arrest for a DUI, the requirements for chemical testing change. After the arrest, you are required to submit to a chemical test, usually at the police station. This is because of Georgia's implied consent laws. The penalties for refusing a chemical test include automatic driver's license suspension for a year, and the state may later use your refusal against you in court.
After a DUI arrest, the police will ask you to submit to a blood, breath or even a urine test. You don't get a choice. If the police ask for a blood test, you can't say you'll only submit to a urine test. If you refuse, the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) will automatically suspend your license for a year. In most DUI cases, your license may get suspended anyway, but for refusing a chemical test, you will also lose your chance to get a limited driving permit that lets you drive to and from work, school, court hearings and medical appointments.
The only way to stop your license from getting suspended is to make a formal hearing request in writing. Unfortunately, you only have 30 days after your arrest to request the hearing, or you have waived your right to contest the suspension. An Atlanta DUI defense lawyer will be able to submit your ALS hearing request, or 30 day letter, and represent you before the administrative hearing to argue in support of keeping your driver's license.
Implied Consent DUI Defense in Atlanta
Whether or not you refused a breath test in a DUI can make the difference in whether your license is suspended or not. It is important that you carefully consider having an experienced Atlanta DUI lawyer represent you during your administrative hearing and criminal proceeding, and that you act fast, because you only have 30 days to act. A skilled Atlanta DUI lawyer on your side, can defend your license, and your criminal charges. If you or a loved one have been arrested for driving under the influence in Atlanta, call us and we will make sure you get the justice you deserve.