Georgia has some harsh DUI laws. DUI blood tests can be a fundamental component of DUI investigations and legal proceedings, as they provide critical evidence to determine impairment and secure convictions.
As local DUI lawyers we wanted to write a blog post to explore the significance of DUI blood tests in Georgia, their role in prosecuting DUI cases, and the process involved in administering and challenging these tests.
The Importance of DUI Blood Tests
DUI blood tests are instrumental in establishing the level of alcohol or drugs in a driver's system at the time of their arrest. These tests serve several key purposes:
- Objective evidence: Blood tests provide objective and scientific evidence of a driver's impairment, which is essential in securing convictions. Unlike field sobriety tests, which are subjective and open to interpretation, blood tests yield concrete results.
- Legally admissible evidence: Blood test results are often considered highly reliable and admissible in court, making it challenging for defense attorneys to dispute their accuracy.
- Determining BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration): Blood tests help determine a driver's BAC, a critical factor in assessing their level of impairment. In Georgia, a BAC of 0.08% or higher is considered illegal for drivers over 21 years old. For driver’s under 21 years of age, a BAC of merely .02 or higher is per se DUI.
The Process of DUI Blood Testing
When law enforcement suspects a driver of DUI, they may request a blood test to measure the driver's BAC or the presence of drugs. The process typically involves the following steps:
- Initial stop and investigation: Law enforcement officers pull over a vehicle due to observed erratic driving, speeding, or other violations. Or a driver may be stopped in has been in an accident. If they suspect impairment, they may conduct field sobriety tests or administer a preliminary breath test (PBT).
- Arrest: If the officer has reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired they will arrest the individual.
- Implied consent notice: Georgia has an implied consent law, which means that drivers are deemed to have consented to blood, breath, or urine tests for the purpose of determining their BAC. Refusing to take the test can result in a driver's license suspension. If a driver refuses a blood test, which is their right, a law enforcement officer can try to get a search warrant for a blood test from a judge.
- Blood test request: If a driver consents to the blood test, a qualified medical professional or phlebotomist will draw a blood sample, ensuring proper procedures and maintaining the chain of custody.
- Laboratory analysis: The blood sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results are typically expressed as a numerical BAC percentage or the presence of specific drugs.
- Expert testimony: Prosecutors often rely on expert witnesses, such as toxicologists, to testify about the results and explain their significance in court.
Admissibility and Challenges to Blood Test Results
While blood test results are generally admissible and compelling evidence in DUI cases, they are not without challenges. As DUI attorneys we often attempt to dispute the results (if possible) based on the following grounds:
- Chain of custody issues: To maintain the integrity of the sample, a proper chain of custody must be established, documenting every person who handled the sample. Any gaps in this chain may raise doubts about the accuracy of the results.
- Qualifications of personnel: Defense attorneys may scrutinize the qualifications and training of the professionals who administered the blood test to ensure that they followed proper protocols.
- Medical conditions or medications: Certain medical conditions or medications can impact the accuracy of a blood test. If the defendant has a valid medical reason for an elevated BAC, this may be presented as a defense.
Prosecutors Want a Blood Test (If They Can Get One)
DUI blood tests are a cornerstone of DUI prosecutions in Georgia, providing crucial evidence to convict, or acquit, individuals who are suspected of driving under the influence. These tests offer an objective and scientifically verifiable means of assessing a driver's impairment, and their results are typically admissible in court.
While defense attorneys may challenge blood test results on various grounds, their reliability and acceptance as evidence remain strong. It is essential for both legal professionals and individuals to understand the significance of DUI blood tests and the factors that can affect their admissibility in the pursuit of justice in Georgia's legal system. When you need a local DUI lawyer, call us for a free case evaluation!