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What are implied consent laws?

Georgia has an implied consent law and because of this, it is important to understand that implied consent laws can present serious consequences for individuals who are accused of drunk driving. Because of the important impact of implied consent laws, Georgia residents may wonder what an implied consent law is and what its implications are. Implied consent laws are implicated when a driver is pulled over for suspected drunk driving and asked to take a breathalyzer test.

The process that occurs when a driver is pulled over for suspected drunk driving is for police to evaluate the driver for signs of impairment. When a police officer requests that a driver submit to a breath test to measure their blood alcohol content level, not all drivers agree to a breathalyzer test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 20 percent of drivers refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test and a police officer is unable to force the driver to submit to a breath test.

Refusal to submit to a breath test, however, carries its own consequences. Implied consent laws provide that when a driver applies for a driver's license, the driver impliedly consents to chemical tests and field sobriety tests to determine impairment in suspected drunk driving situations. If the police have reasonable suspicion to believe that a driver is impaired and the driver refuses to submit to tests to determine impairment, then the driver faces an automatic driver's license suspension and the possibility of additional penalties. Drivers in Georgia can face a 12-month driver's license suspension for a breath test refusal.

Because of the significance of implied consent laws and the decision to submit to a breathalyzer test, it is important for every driver to fully understand their criminal defense rights. Drivers have different legal options at different points in the process so it is important to be familiar with both their options and rights.

Source: FindLaw, "Implied Consent Laws," Accessed Feb. 29, 2016

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