Generally, the police need a warrant to search your house. Do they need a warrant to test you for alcohol in your blood after you are pulled over on suspicion of impaired driving?
The short answer to this question is no. The police do not generally need a warrant to give you a chemical breath test or other test for alcohol after they pull you over on suspicion of DUI.
That said, the subject is complicated. In this blog post, we will take a quick look at the issues involved.
Chemical breath tests and implied consent
Chemical breath tests, including those that go under the brand name Breathalyzer, are commonly used by Georgia police at roadside traffic stops to test a driver’s blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. A driver with a BAC of 0.08% or higher is legally presumed to be too intoxicated to drive. For certain types of drivers, the so-called legal limit is even lower.
Under Georgia law, drivers have agreed to submit to a roadside chemical breath test as a condition of receiving a driver’s license. This is known as implied consent. Because you have consented to the test, the police do not need a warrant.
If you refuse to submit to one of these tests, the state of Georgia will suspend your license for a minimum of one year, even if you are not ultimately convicted of DUI. Refusal to submit to the test will also mean you will be ineligible for a limited driving permit if you are ultimately convicted.
Other types of test
Prosecutors may use your breath test results as evidence against you if you are charged with DUI. However, chemical breath test results aren’t always reliable. In some cases, police officers make mistakes with the tests due to a lack of training. In others, the testing devices themselves are unreliable.
For these reasons, police may want to gather evidence from tests of a driver’s urine or blood. If you have been pulled over on suspicion of DUI, police may take you to a different location where they get a professional to administer one of these tests. Police may need a warrant for these more intrusive types of tests, but they can often get these warrants quickly, even at night.
It’s important to note that the BAC test results won’t necessarily be the only evidence used against you in court. The police can also testify as to their observations of your behavior, whether they smelled alcohol on your breath, and how you performed when asked to do roadside sobriety tests such as walking in a straight line..
Defending against test evidence
When building your strategy to defend against DUI charges, one area to explore is to question whether the test results are reliable. If you and your lawyer can sow doubt about the results, you may be able to get the court to disregard that evidence.