AUGUSTA (WFXG) - A Georgia Supreme Court ruling, Monday, says a drivers refusal to do a breathalyzer test can not be used against them in court. Georgia resident’s just gained insight on their rights if they decide to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.
Criminal Defense Attorney, Jared Williams, says you have the right to not give evidence against yourself.
“If an officer pulls you over and requests for you to blow into the breathalyzer and you tell them no, they can not later come into court and have the jury assume that you must be guilty or must be drunk because you didn’t blow into the breathalyzer," Williams said.
But, Tim Johnson, a Sergeant with Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, says that doesn’t impact the way deputies handle a situation when they pull a driver over for a DUI.
“If they deny the breathalyzer we still handle the case the same way we normally do,” Johnson said. “We look for clues, use our testimony, and our physical evidence we have.”
Deputies also have videos in all their traffic cars with audio so they can hear and see everything that’s going on, which also helps them charge someone with a DUI.
When it comes to getting pulled over, Williams says it’s beneficial to know your rights. “It’s really important because what it does is it gives more rights to Georgia residents, people in Georgia than we would otherwise have under the constitution.”
This new insight doesn’t mean that the roads will be more dangerous, Johnson says people have declined the breathalyzer before and were still convicted of a DUI. “It doesn’t make it any more dangerous, again, all the other clues that we have, the breathalyzer is just one small part of a big DUI case.”
Williams doesn’t believe this law will change peoples behavior when it comes to driving behind the wheel while intoxicated. “People aren’t going to hear this this restatement of the law and decide that now they want to drive drunk, people who make that decision have made that decision will continue to do so; people who drive responsibly or get an Uber will continue to do that, all this does is protect your rights when you’re in court.”