While it may be hard to believe, every state in the U.S. handles drunk driving cases differently. While it's illegal, everywhere, to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at or above 0.08%, after that, there are very few things that every state agrees on. Even the names of the crime are different, like DUI, OUI, DWI, DUII, or DWII.
One of the many things that Georgia does differently from other states is how it handles independent testing. Unlike in other states, if you get arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Georgia, and have your blood, urine, or breath tested in a police station or mobile testing lab for intoxicants, then you have the right to request an independent test, and law enforcement have to reasonably accommodate your request.
There are two big reasons why you should always exercise this right: It makes it less likely that you'll be convicted by a false positive on the police's test, and it gives police the opportunity to make a costly mistake.
Chemical testing procedures in Georgia are horrifically problematic. The way that law enforcement and testing labs handle blood samples, the method used for testing them, and the time it takes for all of this to happen can result in the blood sample decomposing or getting contaminated, both of which can increase the blood's alcohol content. This results in an abnormally elevated BAC reading, which can get you convicted. By getting an independent test, you will have independent test results that you can use to challenge the prosecutor's test results, making it far more difficult to be found guilty on the basis of a faulty test.
The other reason to request an independent test is that it forces law enforcement to reasonably accommodate your request, and if they don't, then their BAC test gets thrown out, no matter how incriminating it was. If you are not given the opportunity to use a phone book or the internet to find a qualified testing center within 50 miles and to arrange for family or friends to pick you up from the center, once you're done, or if you're not given a ride to the testing center, or to an ATM, if you don't have the means to pay for the test, then the police will have failed in their responsibility to accommodate your request for an independent test. Their test, their strongest piece of evidence saying that you broke Georgia's DUI laws, will get tossed.
All that you have to do exercise your right to an independent test is say, “I would like to have an independent test, now,” after the police administer theirs at the police station or mobile lab. You can't effectively request one following the Preliminary Breath Test that gets administered during the traffic stop, though – this portable breathalyzer only determines if there is enough alcohol in your bloodstream to justify bringing you into the police station.
Exercise your rights! The price of an independent test is small, compared to the cost of a conviction based on an unchallenged BAC test. If you need an attorney to help fight a DUI charge, call us today!