The Court of Appeals in Georgia recently ruled that police will be permitted to forcibly administer blood tests on those they suspect are driving under the influence of alcohol. In spite of this decision, which seemingly approves of mandatory blood tests, it is important to note that the Court of Appeals does not have the final say on such matters, and the ruling could be appealed to our state’s highest court. For now, however, it appears that police have authority to conduct forced DUI blood tests on condition that an on-call judge authorizes a warrant to extract the evidence.
In the case that the Court of Appeals ruled on, police say that they pulled over the driver in March 2012. The driver reportedly smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech. Police administered a field sobriety test, and the man allegedly failed it. He was arrested and delivered to jail, where he refused to submit to a breath test.
A local judge then issued a warrant to administer a forced blood test. The man was taken to the hospital, and a blood test was administered. He allegedly tested with an alcohol content of .12. The Court of Appeals ruled that the forced blood test in this case was legitimate and thus lawful.
According to the implied consent law in Georgia, no tests will be given if the accused person agrees to accept the punishment that comes with a refusal of the test. However, in 2006, legislators added provisions in the law which allow police to extract blood evidence when a warrant has been obtained authorizing them to do so. For these and other more complicated reasons, the Court of Appeals ruled in its most recent decision that forced blood tests are permitted under the law in certain circumstances.
Laws governing DUI are constantly changing in the state of Georgia and throughout the nation. For this reason, drivers must stay up-to-date on their legal rights in the event that they are pulled over and the police wish to administer field sobriety tests, Breathalyzer tests and/or blood tests. No matter what evidence police collect at the time of a DUI arrest, the accused will still have the ability in court to defend him or herself against the allegations — and in a lot of situations can do so with a great deal of success.
Source: thenewspaper.com, Georgia Eliminates DUI Refusal Loophole, No author, Jan. 30, 2014