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Georgia Supreme Court ruling challenges DUI law

This blog post reviews Georgia DUI law, both criminal and administrative, in the wake of a recent Georgia Supreme Court ruling. The current law requires suspected drunk drivers to submit to drug and alcohol testing during traffic stops. Motorists who refuse to submit to testing can lose their driver's license for one year. Challengers to the law believe that the loss of their license is a threat to their constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the state's implied consent law is unconstitutional. However, administrative law judges in the state have ruled that the Supreme Court's decision does not apply to the administrative hearing that could result in the loss of an individual's driver's license. In a series of cases, the administrative law judges have ruled that the driver's license suspension hearing should not be classified as a criminal case for purposes of determining whether a driver's license should be suspended. In most criminal cases, consent must be freely given by the accused before certain tests are administered. The current law is based on a theory that anyone who drives on Georgia's highways has thereby given implied consent

In two separate cases, defendants unsuccessfully argued that DUI evidence should be excluded from administrative license proceedings. The judges have ruled that the exclusionary rule is not a constitutional right. Instead, the rule is to be used with judicial discretion in criminal cases to prevent illegal search and seizures.

Though this defense is not available to administrative hearing respondents accused of DUI, all hope is not lost. The right legal counsel can help ensure that all constitutional rights are preserved during the course of a DUI defense. Whether it's a repeat DUI or underage DUI, an experienced attorney can help.

Source: The Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Georgia judges: Drunk driving suspects won't get licenses back," Lois Norder, May 14, 2015

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