Breathalyzer Test in Athens: Do I Have to Consent?

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Ideally, you’ll go through your entire life and never get pulled over for drunk driving or have to take a breathalyzer test in Athens. Seeing those red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror when you know you’ve had a few drinks can be terrifying. Even if you’re confident you’re not over the legal limit, you panic.

When the cops eventually pull you over and look into your car, they scrutinize your appearance. They look into your eyes and shine a flashlight into your car. You can tell they’re convinced that you’re driving while under the influence. You’re already thinking about which Athens DUI lawyer you’re going to call.

When the police suspect you’re driving while drunk, they’re going to ask you to take a breathalyzer test. Part of you wants to refuse because you fear you’ll blow a level higher than the legal limit. Another part of you worries that, if you refuse the test, the officers will simply assume you’re drunk.

Here, we’ll talk about how you should handle the request to take a breathalyzer test. We’ll also explain the consequences of refusing to take the test. If you still have questions or find yourself in jail after being arrested for DUI, make sure to call our office right away.

Why Would the Police Ask You to Submit to a Breathalyzer Test?

When the police pull you over on suspicion of drunk driving, they’re going to look for signs of inebriation. They’ve been specially trained to identify these signs. Some of the things they’ll look for include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Smell or odor of alcohol or marijuana
  • Open containers or drug paraphernalia visible in the vehicle
  • Weaving in and out of lanes
  • Driving way too slow
  • Driving with all the windows open in cold or inclement weather
  • Pulling out of a bar around closing time

If they notice any of these things, they’re going to suspect you’ve been drinking and driving. The law states that anybody whose blood alcohol concentration is .08 or higher shall be arrested for DUI in Georgia. This is why they ask you to take a breathalyzer test. This test will measure your blood alcohol concentration.

You Have the Right to Refuse the Breathalyzer in Georgia

Legally, you’re allowed to refuse the breathalyzer test in Georgia. Nobody can force you to submit to this test. However, you need to understand the consequences if you do refuse. Some of these consequences include:

Arrest

You will be arrested and charged with DUI. The law in Georgia states that a person who refuses to take a breathalyzer test must be arrested for DUI. It is mandatory which means the police don’t have any discretion in the matter.

License Suspension

Your driver’s license will be suspended. In fact, you’ll be required to surrender your physical driver’s license at the scene. Georgia is an implied consent state. This means that by accepting your driver’s license, or by driving on their roads, you consent to the breathalyzer test. If you refuse to take it, you are essentially saying you don’t want your license since you won’t agree to the terms associated with it.

You’ll be given a thirty-day provisional license. During this time, you must apply for a hearing to see if you can get your license back. Your Athens DUI lawyer can attend this hearing with you. They’ll try to convince the judge that you had a legitimate reason for refusing the test. This can be hard to do. And, since the law is clear about arresting a suspect who refuses a breathalyzer, they have no choice in the punishment.

Clearly, you need to think carefully before you refuse to take the breathalyzer test. There are heavy penalties if you do this. However, if you’re convinced that you’ll fail the test, you may need to take your chances with the refusal. Your Athens criminal defense attorney may be able to get the suspension reduced or dismissed. But you’ll still have to contend with the DUI charges.

What if You’re Certain You’ll Fail the Breathalyzer Test?

One of the reasons our clients tell us they refused to take the breathalyzer test is because they knew they would blow higher than the .08 limit. They figured they would have a much easier time convincing a judge that they had principled reasons for refusing the test than they would explaining a high BAC level.

Sometimes, you have to go with your gut. If someone refuses to take the test, they usually have a good reason. If you know you’ve had too much to drink, then there’s a good chance you’ll blow much higher than a .08. If this happens, it will be very difficult for your Athens DUI lawyer to argue your way out of the charges.

However, if you refuse to take the test, there is no per se evidence that you were drinking and driving. Your Athens criminal defense attorney may have an easier chance of dealing with a refusal than a high BAC level.

What Happens if You Are Forced to Surrender Your Driver’s License?

Most people are very surprised when their license is taken after they refuse to take a breathalyzer test. They have no idea the cops can do this. The laws in Georgia are very clear. If a driver refuses the breathalyzer, their license will be suspended for at least one year. They will also be arrested and charged with DUI.

Your Athens criminal defense attorney will have to file a request for a hearing regarding your license suspension. You only have a week and a half to do this. If you win at this hearing, you’ll get your license back. However, you’ll still have to face the DUI charges.

Your Athens DUI lawyer will approach the charges the same way they always do. They’ll challenge the state’s case and try to poke holes in the prosecutor’s case. If they’re able to do this, you could walk away having the charges reduced or dismissed.

Contact a Skilled Athens DUI Lawyer Right Away

If you’re arrested after refusing the breathalyzer test, you should call an attorney right away. Your Athens criminal defense attorney can review the evidence the state has and try to poke holes in their case. What you need to do is call them from the jail. If you aren’t able to do this, have a family member call on your behalf. With so much at stake, you don’t want to try to handle this on your own.