A landmark case in DUI law has just been decided by the Georgia Supreme Court. This new DUI law in Georgia could have massive implications for the use of the Breathalyzer in the state.
Elliott v. The State
In Elliott v. The State, the Georgia Supreme court decided that a refusal of a Breathalyzer test cannot be used as evidence against a defendant in court. In the past, a refusal could be used to imply that they probably refused the test because the person knew it would show a positive result.
The decision was based on a thorough review of the Georgia Constitution, as well as other recent court cases, including Olevik v. State. (We reviewed that case here.) The Court concluded that:
- The Olevik case acknowledges that the act of breathing in the breathalyzer is an act of self-incrimination.
- The Georgia Constitution gives people the right to avoid acts of self-incrimination. Therefore, a refusal of a breath test is a protected right by the Georgia Constitution.
This New DUI Law in Georgia Protects Against Self Incrimination
So, in the Elliot case, the majority of the justices concluded that if a person refuses a breath test, that fact should be protected by the Constitution and not permissible as incriminating evidence.
Because this is such a new decision, we have yet to see what the full implications will be. The administrative license suspension because of refusal is still in effect. But that may change.
One of the Supreme Court justices suggested that this decision could affect the validity of the Implied Consent law. This law states that when a person gets a Georgia license, it is implied that they agree to the possibility of a breathalyzer test. This ruling could also affect how breath and blood tests are used in court.
Arrested and Need Help? Call Ashley Schiavone
If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Georgia, call a seasoned attorney who can help you navigate this new DUI law in Georgia. Ashley Schiavone can take a look at your case and see if there are ways your charges can be reduced or if it is a case that can be tried in court.