Georgia court overturns driver drug test law

| 10/28/2003

The Georgia Supreme Court has thrown out a law that required drivers involved in serious accidents to submit to drug testing or face the loss of driving privileges for a year.

The court ruled Oct. 6 the implied consent law authorized a search and seizure without probable cause, violating state and federal constitutional rights, Albany’s WALB TV reported.

Under the provision, any driver involved in an accident causing serious injury or death was presumed to have given prior consent to a blood, breath or urine test to determine the presence of alcohol or other drugs in his or her body.

Refusing the test made drivers subject to a suspension of their license for at least one year. Evidence that they refused to be tested could also be used against them at trial.

The court said the law was problematic because it compelled testing without any independent reason to think those involved in accidents were impaired, the news station reported.

Prosecutors warn the ruling could cripple law-enforcement efforts. But the lawyer who challenged the law noted the court left intact a provision that requires testing of those arrested for driving under the influence.

“This is not throwing out all blood, breath and urine tests,” lawyer William Doyle Healan III told The Associated Press. “It only prevents police from taking blood, breath or urine when there’s been an accident and police don’t have any reason to arrest someone for DUI.”