A Georgia news reporter made some news of her own over the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday when she got pulled over for driving too fast and the officer said she appeared glassy-eyed and had alcohol on her breath. The news reporter refused to take the breathalyzer test but ended up being arrested for a DUI (along with reckless driving and speeding). Was the refusal to blow into the breathalyzer a wise one? Without the breathalyzer, is a DUI charge even sustainable? This is what you should know.
Refusal to blow carries immediate penalties.
Georgia, like many other states, has so-called "implied consent" laws. These laws basically state that you give your consent to chemical testing when you decide to ask for the privilege of a driver's license from that state. If you withdraw your consent by refusing to take one when asked, the state will withdraw your license. The loss of your license is automatic, immediate, and you have very limited appeal rights. In addition, you'll probably end up arrested anyhow based on the officer's observations of your condition.
Refusal also offers few benefits.
On the other hand, what if you actually have been drinking and don't know for certain what your BAC is? Does refusing to blow give you a better chance of beating the DUI later? Probably not.
Your defense attorney may actually be in a better position to defend you against the results of a roadside breathalyzer than you think. Roadside breathalyzers have long been controversial because their accuracy is questionable even when they are used properly and maintained correctly—and that often doesn't happen. False positives can be caused by everything from uncontrolled diabetes to the occupational exposure to cleaning solvents.
Refusal can also be used against you in court.
Refusal to submit to the breathalyzer might keep prosecutors from knowing exactly what your blood alcohol content was when you were driving, but it doesn't stop them from using the breathalyzer as a sort of evidence against you anyhow. Your refusal to blow can be interpreted as a consciousness of guilt on your part and used by the prosecution to essentially argue that you knew you were too impaired to be driving. In other words, you refused the test because you knew it would prove your guilt.
While "consciousness of guilt" isn't enough, by itself, to convict you, it can be considered along with other evidence—like the traffic violation that caused the police to pull you over in the first place, your appearance, the odor of alcohol, and any other evidence that comes to light.
While every situation is different, it pays to know the laws in your particular state and whether or not a refusal to take a breathalyzer is to your personal advantage for some reason. If necessary, consider consulting with a DUI attorney at a law firm such as Thomas & Associates, PC to discuss the situation.