In March, 2015, the Georgia Supreme Court came out with an opinion with major implications for drivers stopped and investigated for driving under the influence. In Williams v. The State of Georgia, the court held that the trial court was wrong to allow into evidence the results of a blood test without first determining whether the person under suspicion had given his actual consent to the blood test instead of the implied consent given by driving on the roads of Georgia.
Mr. Williams was stopped by a Gwinnett County police officer based on the “reasonable articulable suspicion” of that officer. He was not read his Miranda rights, but he was read the statutory implied consent notice and told that at that point, he could either answer yes or no to the question of whether he would submit to blood and urine tests.
At trial, Mr. Williams defense attorney made a motion to suppress the evidence of the blood test based on it being an illegal search and seizure under the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution. The trial court denied that motion and ruled that the search and seizure of Mr. Williams blood was not a violation of his constitutional rights. This ruling was overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court.
The Georgia Supreme Court stated that “a suspects right under the Fourth Amendment to be free of unreasonable search and seizures applies to the compelled withdrawal of blood, and the extraction of blood is a search within the meaning of the Georgia Constitution.” It went on to conclude that the state court failed to determine if Mr. Williams gave his actual consent to the procuring and testing of his blood.
This opinion just goes to show that you cannot rely on conventional wisdom as to what your rights are in a traffic stop, and what will or will not be allowed when you have an attorney that will fight for your rights.
The full opinion is available at the Georgia Supreme court’s website at: http://www.gasupreme.us/sc-op/pdf/s14a1625.pdf.