Atlanta, GA- In a recent case, the Georgia Supreme Court threw out the DUI conviction of an Atlanta-area man after justices ruled that the blood draw used to convict him was unconstitutional.
John Cletus Williams of Gwinnett County was driving in the Dacala area in September of 2012 when police saw him weaving in the roadway. Court records say Williams was “unable to stay” in his lane of travel, according to 11 Alive, and he was placed under arrest.
Williams was pulled over and police naturally suspected he was intoxicated. Without first obtaining, police subjected him to a blood test. That test showed that he had “two and a half times the normal therapeutic range” of three prescription drugs, Xanax, oxycodone and butalbitol, 11 Alive reported.
He was arrested, convicted and sentenced to spend 30 days in jail, but Williams appealed the decision, arguing that he did not fully understand the state’s implied consent laws. Implied consent laws requires all licensed motorists to submit to breathalyzer or blood tests when an officer has reasonable suspicion they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
At the time of his arrest he was told that if he refused the blood test, his “Georgia driver’s license or privilege to drive on the highways of this state will be suspended for a minimum period of one year.” That gave Williams the impression that he had no choice in the matter which the Georgia Supreme Court established is a violation of person’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Basically put, the high court established that requiring a person to submit to these tests by virtue of obtaining a driver’s license isn’t really a choice, and therefore Williams did not “willingly or freely” consenting to the blood test.
The high court determined that since no exigent circumstances—a fatal accident for example– were present, the officer erred in drawing Williams’ blood without first obtaining a warrant.
“In considering Williams’s motion to suppress, the state court failed to addressed whether Williams gave actual consent to the procuring and testing of his blood, which would require the determination of the voluntariness of the consent under the totality of the circumstances,” Justice Hines concluded in the court’s decision.
This case was similar to a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Missouri vs. McNeely.
This decision means that Georgia lawmakers may have to go back to the drawing board and tweak the language of the state’s implied consent statutes.
Williams’s conviction was overturned and the conviction wiped from his record. His case shows how important it is to have highly-educated and savvy Atlanta DUI attorney working on your defense. They will thoroughly examine the details of your case and devise a strong defense, giving you a better chance of avoid a DUI conviction.
A DUI conviction carries with it a host of consequences that will have a huge impact on a many aspects of a person’s life and their future. A DUI is not a casual charge by any means and anyone with this charge needs to contact a DUI attorney in Atlanta immediately.