Our Athens GA DUI Lawyer gives you a DUI Law Update from the Georgia Supreme Court today!
What is the statement of the Supreme Court of Georgia?
The Supreme Court of Georgia on Monday struck down parts of Georgia statutory law that allow a person’s refusal to submit to a breath test upon being stopped for DUI Law to be used as evidence in the accused’s criminal trial.
The case comes from Athens-Clarke County in 2015 where a defendant was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. The officer pulled her over after she failed to maintain her lane and other traffic offenses. The Defendant refused to take a breath test and she was arrested.
Justice Nels S.D. Peterson wrote the opinion for the court’s unanimous decision, saying individuals have a right against self-incrimination.
What is the statement of Justice Peterson?
“We acknowledge that the State has a considerable interest in prosecuting DUI offenses (and thereby deterring others) and that our decision today may make that task more difficult,” the opinion says. But, “the right to be free from compelled self-incrimination does not wax or wane based on the severity of a defendant’s alleged crimes,” according to Justice Peterson.
Under Georgia law, the person is required to submit to state administered chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine or other bodily substances for the purpose of determining if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you refuse the testing, your driver’s license or privilege to drive on the highways of this state will be suspended for a minimum period of one year. The refusal to submit to the required testing may also be offered into evidence against a defendant at trial
In 2017, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in Olevik v. State that the Georgia Constitution’s right against compelled self-incrimination prevents the State from forcing someone accused of DUI to submit to a chemical breath test.
In Monday’s 91-page opinion, the Court concludes that Olevik was correctly decided and “after an extensive review of the historical record and our case law,” it concludes that “our state constitutional right does prohibit admission of evidence that Elliott refused a breath test.”
AJC Story on DUI Law Update