If you are not an attorney, you may not realize that different states have different laws, even if they deal with the same crime. States define crimes differently, require law enforcement to do different things when enforcing them, and have different court procedures. Even though it seems like such a common crime, this is still the case when it comes to driving under the influence (DUI). While all states agree that the blood alcohol content (BAC) required for driving under the influence is 0.08%, once past that, the differences abound.
As a result, some states can be pretty unique in how they handle drunk driving. When it comes to independent blood testing, Georgia is one of these states, as it gives drivers the right to request independent testing after being subject to the state's tests, and even requires law enforcement personnel to accommodate your request. For DUI cases in Georgia, this makes a huge difference.
If you get pulled over by a police officer who suspects that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the officer will ask you to take a Preliminary Breath Test, to determine if there is alcohol in your bloodstream. If this test shows that there is alcohol in your system, you will be arrested and brought into the police station, or to a mobile testing facility. Once there, you will be asked to consent to a blood, urine, or breath test, which will provide a more detailed reading of your BAC.
If you consent to any of these tests at the police station or in a mobile testing facility, and a sample is taken, you automatically gain the right to have a separate, independent test, at your own expense, from someone qualified to give it. Further, if you make it clear that you are exercising this right, law enforcement officers have to reasonably accommodate you in your request. This means that they have to drive you to the hospital of your choosing, so long as it is within a 50 mile radius, and to an ATM if you are not able to pay for the test with the money that you have on your person. They also have to allow you to call friends or family, so they can help pay for your independent test or to pick you up from the hospital when your testing is done.
There are several reasons why you should always request an independent blood, urine, or breath test after being subjected to one at the hands of the police.
Firstly, if the police do not reasonably accommodate you in your request for an independent test, then their test – which is their biggest piece of evidence that you violated Georgia's DUI law – gets thrown away. By requesting your own, independent, test, you are giving law enforcement the opportunity to make a mistake that could lead to your acquittal.
Secondly, Georgia's chemical testing procedures are notoriously loose, which often leads to inaccurate test results. If you do not request and receive an independent test, you could get convicted for DUI based on faulty test results, and not have independent test results to challenge the incorrect ones.
If you or someone you know are facing DUI charges in Georgia, call me at my law office: (404) 816-4440.