One of the most common ways a law enforcement officer will gather evidence in a suspected drunk driving stop is through a blood alcohol test. This could be with a breathalyzer, or via a test of a bodily substance such as blood or urine.
But what would happen if you were stopped by an officer and simply refused to take one of these tests?
Georgia’s implied consent law
Georgia, like every other U.S. state, has what is called an implied consent law. This means that by accepting a driver’s license, you are consenting to a chemical test. That’s it, end of story.
Because of this, you can face an administrative penalty if you refuse a chemical test.
If you decline a state-administered chemical test, the state will suspend your license for at least one year. The state does not need a trial to do this – they can do so simply because you refused a chemical test. During this time, you’ll be without a license and unable to easily get around.
There is a way to fight it, however.
Appealing the suspension
Drivers who refused a chemical test and are facing a license suspension can appeal. They must act quickly, however. You have a 30-day window from the time you receive a notice of the suspension to request an appeal.
This appeal, which will be done in-person at a hearing, is a way to challenge the suspension. During this process, yourself and your defense lawyer can argue your case. It can include questioning:
- Whether the officer had reasonable grounds to pull over the driver
- If the person was lawfully arrested
- Whether the officer properly informed the driver of implied consent laws
- The results of the chemical test
- If the chemical test was properly handled by a permitted individual
The implied consent law is quite clear. But that straightforward approach does not permit law enforcement officers or the courts to ignore your rights as an individual. While you are expected to follow the letter of the law, so are they.
If you were stopped and accused of drunk driving, and threatened with a license suspension over a refused chemical test, you have the option to fight back.