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Traffic stops are some of the most common ways that everyday people find themselves interacting with the police, and DUIs are some of the most serious offenses that can arise out of such stops. Consequently, it is a good idea for people to understand their rights when they have been stopped and are worried about the potential for an Athens DUI conviction. One of the most important things for drivers to understand is what rights they have surrendered by getting behind the wheel, particularly the fact that they give their implied consent to take a chemical BAC test.
Implied Consent Laws and Penalties
Georgia DUI laws, like the laws of most states, includes an implied consent statute for people who have driver's licenses. What this means is that by getting a driver's license, a person automatically agrees to take a chemical test of their blood alcohol levels. Ordinarily, such tests would be impermissible without a warrant.
In order to ensure that drivers comply with the consent that they have given, there are stiff penalties for refusing to take a chemical test. A person may have their license suspended for a period of at least one year purely for refusing to take the chemical test. Additionally, the prosecution can introduce the refusal to take a BAC test, so the jury may conclude that the driver refused the test because they knew they were guilty. If the case is won or reduced, you get your license back. This is known as "favorable disposition"
However, even after refusing a BAC test, drivers do have some options. For instance, the law requires the officer administering the test to read the person a disclaimer about implied consent. Failing to read this disclaimer may mean that the driver can avoid a license suspension. Additionally, if the court determines that the officer illegally stopped the driver, usually meaning a stop without cause, then the penalty may also be thrown out.
DUIs in Georgia can come with serious financial penalties and may even be penalized with jail time, or expulsion from the University of Georgia if you are currently a student. If you are facing DUI charges and want to learn more about your rights, talk to a Georgia lawyer today.