Breathalyzer Refusal: Everything You Need To Know


Can a breathalyzer refusal result in criminal charges or convictions? Attorneys from Chehimi Law can explain how your actions affect your case. Call today.

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Breathalyzer Tests in Georgia

In Georgia, an arresting officer may administer a breathalyzer test to a driver suspected of drunk driving. Failing a breathalyzer test typically leads to prosecution for driving under the influence of alcohol. Failure could also lead to temporary or permanent license suspension pending the duration of the case.

Conviction of a DUI has several consequences, although they may be less dire for a first-time offender than a recurring one. Punishments range from jail time to fines, community service, mandatory alcohol counseling, permanent license suspension, and so on.

For this reason, it is crucial to examine what a breathalyzer test is and whether refusing to take it is a good option.

What Is a Breathalyzer Test?

Law enforcement officers administer breathalyzer tests to determine a person’s blood alcohol concentration. In Georgia, a blood alcohol concentration above 0.08% is illegal.

There are two different breath tests administered in Georgia. If a person is pulled over, they may be asked to take a preliminary breath test. Since police officers typically cannot arrest without probable cause for arrest, failing this breath test or another field sobriety test can suffice as probable cause.

If one refuses this test, the officer may still arrest if there are other telling factors that the driver is intoxicated, such as slurred speech. When the arrest is made, the driver is taken to the police station, and there, they are required to take a breathalyzer test. Georgia’s implied consent laws govern this test, and a refusal to take it can have consequences.

How Does the Breathalyzer Work?

A breathalyzer analyzes people’s breath and estimates their blood alcohol concentrations. However, the problem with breath tests is that they are often inaccurate, especially roadside breath tests. This is because many factors can contribute to a person’s blood alcohol. Some researchers have even indicated that a low-carb diet could trigger a false positive.

The numerical results of roadside breath tests are inadmissible in a court of law, but the court will still consider the test’s outcome when deciding on a conviction. Meaning if it was negative or positive will be noted on the official court record. A positive result could significantly increase the chances of a conviction.

A DUI conviction can lead to serious legal repercussions, including license suspension, fines, and even jail time. Having your legal rights reviewed by a qualified lawyer is a good way to ensure that you are aware of your rights and can make the best decisions for your situation.

Breathalyzer Laws in Georgia

Georgia’s implied consent laws mean that all drivers, including commercial motor vehicle drivers, are subject to chemical tests of breath, blood, and urine to determine whether or not they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

While one can technically refuse these tests, this refusal can be used against them in a DUI court proceeding, stating that they refused because they knew they would fail the test. There are administrative penalties for refusing to allow a police officer to administer breathalyzer tests.

Implied consent only applies to the second breath test, which is required after a DUI arrest. This means that refusing the preliminary alcohol screening on the roadside is fine as it is optional. However, it does not necessarily preclude an arrest which would then subject you to mandatory breath testing.

Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

If you refuse a breathalyzer test, the police can still arrest you, and most times, they will if they can prove probable cause. In most cases, refusal will lead to a suspension of your driver’s license for one year. This is known as Administrative License Suspension (A.L.S.). This suspension can take effect whether you take a breathalyzer test and have a positive result or refuse to take the test.

However, before the one-year suspension takes effect, there is a thirty-day period to salvage your license by requesting an administrative hearing. If you ever find yourself in such a situation in Georgia, it is best to consult an experienced Atlanta DUI lawyer immediately.

The law requires the law enforcement officer to inform you of the implied consent law per the Georgia code. Failure to do so on the officer’s part can be a defense for you. The same applies when the officer gives you advice inconsistent with the implied consent warning.

If you take a breathalyzer test and it is positive, it will be used against you in criminal proceedings in court. However, if you subject yourself to a breath test by law enforcement and it is positive, you can demand to be independently tested if you so desire. This option is not available to those who refuse a breathalyzer test.

A skilled Atlanta criminal lawyer can attack the reliability of a positive test result based on the machine’s maintenance history or the diligence of its operator.

Should You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

Unfortunately, you do not have the right to legal counsel before you are required to take the breathalyzer test. This means the decision to accept or refuse is entirely in your hands.

Refusing may be advisable as it gives the prosecution less material to work with. It can especially be advantageous to refuse where the arresting officer has made some procedural errors in arresting you and requesting that you take the test.

DUI Defense Attorney for Breathalyzer Refusal

If you have already refused to take the test and are facing prosecution, it is crucial that you immediately reach out to a criminal defense lawyer. Reputable Georgia DUI lawyers are familiar with dealing with the aftermath of a breath test refusal. They can investigate the occurrence and come up with arguments in your favor.

Furthermore, they can advise you promptly on the step to take so that you do not lose your license for an entire year. Even if you took the test and had a positive result, you may be able to get your charges reduced or dropped altogether if you work with a dedicated and experienced Atlanta DUI lawyer.

For such a dedicated and trustworthy legal service, contact Chemimi Law today and see how we can help your DUI case.


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