During a traffic stop or after a car crash, police officers often have many questions. If an officer has probable cause to suspect that someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may ask very specific questions related to that concern. They may also request to perform a chemical test.
Police officers in Georgia can use either blood or breath testing as a traffic law enforcement tool. What do people typically need to know about blood and breath testing in Georgia?
Drivers have already consented to testing
The first thing drivers need to know about chemical testing is that refusing after an arrest could be a legal violation on its own. The implied consent law in Georgia requires that all drivers agree to chemical testing if officers have probable cause to suspect impairment. After an officer arrests someone for allegedly driving while drunk or on drugs, they can request testing. Although they cannot force someone to undergo a test, the refusal to perform a test post-arrest is a violation on its own in addition to the impaired driving infraction that allegedly occurred.
Blood testing is often more accurate
Breath testing is a popular tool because it is fast and not invasive. Blood tests are subject to numerous restrictions established through both state law and crucial court rulings. Despite the state having more restrictions on blood draws for chemical testing than on breath tests, blood tests are often much more accurate. They can screen for more substances than alcohol and are less likely to produce false positives than breath tests.
Police officers may trick people into testing
Although the implied consent law in Georgia does require that people submit to testing when appropriate, police officers must have justification to request a chemical test and grounds to arrest someone for the law to apply. Sometimes, law enforcement officers might try to manipulate or coerce an individual into performing a test that they have no obligation to undergo. Drivers therefore need to understand their rights, including the right to decline testing before they the police officer arrests them.
Individuals who know and assert their rights during traffic stops are less likely to make mistakes that could lead to their criminal prosecution in the future. For example, properly handling a request for a blood or breath test can make a major difference for someone facing accusations of impairment at the wheel.