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Georgia's new law on Breathalyzers matches constitutional limits

It's more likely that someone will drive to a bar or liquor store than most other ways to get there. This can be a problem if people try to drive back. Georgia's prosecutors and police have generally been hard-nosed about the enforcement of laws against driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The law, however, is changing.

The governor in Atlanta recently signed House Bill 471, commonly known as the Breathalyzer law. Breathalyzers monitor the alcohol concentration on a person's exhalation and are often used as spot checks by police officers when they suspect drunk driving. The consequences of refusing the test were grave, as the test was considered required for drivers on the roads in Georgia.

A recent court ruling determined that forcing the test is unconstitutional, as it violates the right against self-incrimination and the assumption that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty. The law has dropped the requirement, while a person's refusal to take the test may still be used in evidence in lieu of the test's results.

The test is also voluntary for hunters and boat operators in the Peach State, as there are also laws against those activities while a person is under the influence. If the refusal comes up in court, it will no longer be cast as the refusal to follow a lawful order.

People suspected of driving under the influence or other traffic offenses have the right to a legal defense against these charges. Legal representation during all stages of the prosecution process is very important, and those facing charges should always remember they are entitled to it.

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