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The Blood Test: Gwinnett County DUI Lawyer

As Gwinnett DUI lawyers, we wanted to look at the blood test given when someone is arrested for DUI under O.C.G.A. §40-6-391.

A blood test for DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is a medical examination that measures the concentration of alcohol or drugs in an individual's bloodstream. Gwinnet police are aggressively seeking blood tests when they suspect DUI.

Gwinnett police officers may request a blood test when they suspect a driver is under the influence of substances (alcohol or drugs) and there is a need for more accurate and detailed information than a breathalyzer test can provide.

Here's an overview of how a blood test for DUI typically works:

1. Reasons for Blood Test:

  • Accuracy: Blood tests are considered more accurate than breathalyzer tests in measuring the precise amount of alcohol or drugs in a person's system.
  • Alcohol and Drug Detection: Blood tests can detect both alcohol and various drugs, providing a more comprehensive analysis of a person's impairment.

2. Traffic Stop and Suspected DUI:

  • Probable Cause: Gwinnett police officers must have probable cause to request a blood test. The police officer or deputy sheriff might observe erratic driving, field sobriety test results, or other signs of impairment.

More specifically, probable cause is a legal standard used in criminal law that refers to the reasonable belief that a person has committed or is committing a crime. It is a crucial concept in the context of Gwinnett law enforcement activities, including arrests, searches, and seizures. Probable cause is required to obtain a search warrant, make an arrest, or conduct certain law enforcement actions – such as requesting a blood test.

Here are key points to understand about probable cause:

  • Definition: Probable cause is the reasonable belief that a crime has been, is being, or will be committed, based on specific facts and circumstances. It is more than a mere suspicion but does not require absolute certainty.
  • Fourth Amendment Protection: In the United States, the concept of probable cause is rooted in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. Gwinnett police actions that lack probable cause may violate this constitutional protection.
  • Search Warrants: To obtain a search warrant, Gwinnett police officers must present evidence to a judge or magistrate demonstrating probable cause. The warrant allows them to search a specific location for evidence of a crime.
  • Arrests: Gwinnett police officers must generally have probable cause to make an arrest. This means they must have enough information or evidence to reasonably believe that the person to be arrested has committed a crime.
  • Traffic Stops: In routine traffic stops, probable cause may be established if an officer observes a traffic violation or has a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is occurring, such as driving under the influence (DUI).
  • Informants and Anonymous Tips: Information from informants or anonymous tips can contribute to establishing probable cause, but the reliability of such information is a factor considered by courts.
  • Exclusionary Rule: If evidence is obtained without probable cause or in violation of constitutional rights, it may be subject to the exclusionary rule. This rule prevents unlawfully obtained evidence from being used against a defendant in court.
  • Subjective and Objective Components: Probable cause involves both subjective and objective elements. Subjectively, the law enforcement officer must genuinely believe that there is a basis for their actions. Objectively, this belief must be reasonable based on the available facts and circumstances.

Courts often review whether the information available to law enforcement at the time of the action was sufficient to support a reasonable belief that a crime had occurred or was in progress.

3. Consent or Warrant:

  • Implied Consent: In Georgia, drivers are considered to have given implied consent to chemical testing (including blood tests) when they obtain a driver's license. Refusal to submit to testing may result in consequences such as license suspension.
  • Warrant: In some cases, and we’re seeing this increasing, Gwinnett police will obtain a warrant to compel a blood test if the driver refuses to consent.

4. Medical Professional Conducts the Test:

  • Medical Setting: A blood test is typically conducted in a medical setting (but not always), often by a trained phlebotomist or a healthcare professional.
  • Blood Draw: A small amount of blood is drawn from the suspect's vein using a sterile needle and collected in a specialized vial or tube.

5. Analysis of Blood Sample:

  • Laboratory Testing: In Georgia, the collected blood sample is sent to a specific laboratory for analysis.
  • Gas Chromatography or Mass Spectrometry: These are common techniques used to determine the concentration of alcohol or drugs in the blood. The results are usually reported in terms of a percentage or concentration.

6. Interpretation of Results: Legal BAC Limits: The results are compared to the legal limits for alcohol or drugs established by the state of Georgia. For alcohol, this is typically expressed as Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). For someone 21 years of age or older, a reading of .08 is considered per se DUI. For anyone under the age of 21, per se DUI is much lower at .02.

7. Legal Implications:

  • Evidence in Court: The results of the blood test may be used as evidence in court during DUI proceedings.
  • Challenges: Defense attorneys may challenge the validity of the blood test results based on factors such as improper handling of the sample, contamination, or procedural errors.

It's important to note that the procedures and legal implications of blood tests for DUI can vary by jurisdiction, and individuals who find themselves in such situations should seek legal advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

Gwinnett DUI Attorneys

If you need a Gwinnett DUI lawyer, call us immediately to save your driving privileges and provide the best defense possible. We’ll go over all of your best options and plan a defense.

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