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License suspensions upheld in wake of implied consent verdict

| May 19, 2015 | License Suspension |

In March, the Georgia Supreme Court held that the state’s DUI implied consent law is unconstitutional. As we explained in a past post on the ruling, the implied consent law holds that drivers must consent to chemical testing after being pulled over for drunk driving or they lose their driver’s license for at least one year.

Georgia’s highest court ruled that the law is unconstitutional because it violates the Constitution’s protection from unreasonable search and seizures because the suspect who must submit to the chemical testing has not voluntarily consented to waive the right to a warrant being obtained by police before the “search and seizure” takes place.

As anyone familiar with the DUI process knows, the driver’s license suspension process is separate from the criminal DUI case and is overseen by an administrative law judge.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision, at least two people have challenged their license suspensions, arguing that evidence from their chemical tests should not have been used against them during their administrative license suspension proceedings.

However, two administrative law judges held the ruling does not apply to the license suspension hearings like it does in criminal court. Both judges cited the “social costs” that would be incurred by adhering to the decision in cases involving administrative license suspensions.

But, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, the issue is far from over.

The Supreme Court case was sent back to the lower court to determine if the suspect had provided actual consent to the chemical testing as required by the Constitution. Depending on the decision in that case, the law could eventually be changed to require warrants for DUI chemical testing.

Thousands of DUI convictions could also potentially be challenged for using evidence that was obtained unconstitutionally. Stay tuned as the issue develops, or better yet, contact one of our experienced and knowledgeable lawyers today.