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Can I refuse a breath test?

The state of Georgia does not take drinking and driving lightly. Laws enforcing the consumption of alcohol prior to operating a motor vehicle are clear and strict. Likewise, the penalties for a DUI conviction reinforce the state’s lack of tolerance and can significantly alter your daily routine. It is a harsh method of deterrence with the goal of keeping roads safe for everyone.

When a driver is pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the officer may ask him or her to submit to a breath test. This is a way for the police to receive probable cause to make an arrest as well as collect evidence for an impending criminal trial.

This begs the question of whether it is a requirement for you to submit to the test. The short answer is that you do indeed have the option to refuse a breath test. However, your decision to refuse will open you up to facing subsequent legal penalties.

What is implied consent?

Electing to decline an officer’s request for you to submit to a breath test will place you at the mercy of Georgia’s implied consent law. When you receive a valid state driver’s license in the state of Georgia, you have inadvertently agreed to submit to chemical testing upon request of a police officer.

This essentially means that your refusal can bring about a different set of legal ramifications. Furthermore, the decision to decline a roadside breath test does not afford you the right to leave. The officer may still bring you to the police station, where refusing a breath test will automatically trigger an implied consent violation.

Penalty for refusal

Refusing to submit to a breath test effectively places you in violation of Georgia’s implied consent law. This infraction will allow the officer to confiscate your license and issue you a 30-day permit. Failure to submit a court hearing request within this period will subsequently result in the revocation of your driving privileges for one year. Naturally, this penalty will increase incrementally for each future refusal.

Keep in mind that the arresting officer must read you the list of penalties associated with a refusal before proceeding. If he or she fails to do so, this may open an opportunity for you to contest the legal penalties of your decision in a court of law.

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