DUI Implied Consent After the Williams Case

There’s been a substantial change to Georgia’s DUI laws in light of a recent case by the Georgia Supreme Court.

Prior to the ruling in Williams v. State, if a Defendant responded “yes” to the read the statutory Implied Consent notice and requested the Defendant to submit to blood and urine testing, that was all that was required for the search to be considered legal. Now, the Court has issued a clear distinction between a DUI suspect’s “consent” for purposes of the Implied Consent statute and “actual consent” (which would permit a warrantless search of a suspect’s bodily fluids) under the Fourth Amendment and Georgia Constitution.

Prior to trial, the Defendant moved to suppress the results of his state-administered tests. He argued that consent obtained pursuant to the Implied Consent statute alone does not amount to voluntary consent under the Fourth Amendment or the related portion of the Georgia Constitution. In denying his motion, the trial court rejected the arguments that: (1) Implied Consent implicates the Fourth Amendment; and (2) that DUI Implied Consent is not a valid exception to the Fourth Amendment’s search warrant requirement. The Supreme Court of Georgia held that the trial court’s reasoning was flawed because the extraction of blood from a DUI subject does, in fact, implicate the search and seizure provisions of the United States and Georgia Constitutions.

Following this case, the judge of the Georgia criminal court in which a DUI case is tried must decide whether actual – not “implied” – consent was given by the driver for the collection of a blood, breath, or urine sample from that driver. Under the former law, determination of whether a driver gave “implied” consent involved consideration of only whether the driver says “yes” or “no” to only one question, the officer’s question of whether the driver would “submit” to implied consent. However, under the law after the Williams decision, determination of whether a driver gave “actual” consent involves consideration by the judge of many factors, which are legally called “the totality of the circumstances”.

Now, in order for the results of a blood, breath, or urine test of an alleged DUI driver to be admissible in court, the trial court must determine whether the driver voluntarily consented to a test of that driver’s blood, breath, or urine, and the voluntariness of that consent is determined by all circumstances, including potential roadside pressure – or “coercion” – by the arresting officer.

What this actually means is that officers will no longer be allowed to ask drivers if they will “submit” to the state administered chemical tests under the implied consent law. There is no Georgia law that requires a person to submit to such a test. In effect, officers will not be required to ask whether the driver consents to a test.

This may seem like a small change, but its effects on drivers can be tremendous because of the legal ramifications of the Supreme Court’s ruling. That’s why the Kirbo Law Firm follows cases such as these so closely. We want to give you the best representation possible. Contact us today!