Officer Cannot Omit Warning How “Refusal” to Submit to BAC Test May Harm You at Trial.
Ted Morgan Law
The Georgia Supreme Court recently held, in Sauls v State (6/20/2013), that an officer’s failure to clearly read the implied consent warning — specifically, the omission from the warning that your refusal to submit to the BAC tests may be used against you in the DUI criminal trial — renders the officer’s implied consent notice insufficient to properly inform the driver so he/she can make a decision about whether to submit to testing, and consequently, the evidence of the driver’s refusal cannot be offered against he/she at trial. Georgia law requires you to submit to state-administered chemical testing of your blood, breath, and/or urine for the purpose of determining whether you are “driving under the influence” of alcohol or drugs. When you do not comply, it is called a “refusal” and harsh consequences arise including the automatic suspension of your GA driver’s license. Typically, the testing is done at the jail or police station, after an arrest, using the Intoxilyzer 5000 (this is NOT the same as the roadside hand-held test). As the Implied Consent warning tells you, “Your refusal to submit to the required testing may be offered into evidence against you at trial.” Here, the officer failed to read this part of the statutory “implied consent warning” which every officer must read in every DUI arrest if the officer wants you to give a blood, breath, or urine sample. The very essence of the sentence omitted from the warning tells the driver that if you refuse, then the fact that you refused can be used against you in court. This is precisely what the prosecution attempted to do (use the refusal as evidence in Court); defense counsel properly objected & asked the Court to suppress the evidence of the driver’s refusal, and the Supreme Court agreed. Roadside field sobriety tests are optional, but not submitting to the breath machine, aka intoxilyzer, can have serious consequences. If you have been arrested for DUI in Columbus, Georgia, call Columbus DUI attorney Ted Morgan Law (706) 622-6255 for a free consultation.