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Georgia Court of Appeals Allows Forced Blood Test with Warrant
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The Georgia Court of Appeals has overruled a 2006 state Supreme Court precedent and held that a forced blood test can be conducted on a suspected drunk driver in Georgia, if accompanied by a search warrant. The Court of Appeals decided that amendments made to the relevant law by the Georgia state legislature were sufficient to overrule the state Supreme Court precedent.

In the instant case, Daniel J. McAllister ran into a roadblock by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s office, and was suspected of driving under influence due to probable cause. Deputy George Rose decided there was reason to suspect DUI, because when McAllister stopped his left turn blinker was still active. McAllister asked what was going on while he was being stopped; he had to pause before answering questions and fumbled while retrieving his driving license.

  
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Detecting slurred speech and a strong smell of alcohol, the law enforcement asked McAllister to take a roadside sobriety test, which he failed. After he was taken to jail, he refused a breath test. A warrant was issued by a local judge, and following the warrant the deputies took McAllister to a hospital where his blood was drawn and tested and 0.12 blood alcohol content was found.

During trial, McAllister cited the 2005 Georgia Supreme Court case of Georgia v. Collier and argued the forced blood test against his consent was unlawful.

In Collier, the Georgia Supreme Court had stated, “The consequences of refusing the requested testing are the possibility of admission of such refusal at a criminal trial as well as suspension of the driver’s license. These legislatively-created sanctions do not include being compelled to submit to testing through the use of a search warrant.”

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However, after Collier, the Georgia legislature made amendments to the statute and inserted a provision which specified that such evidence could be acquired with a search warrant.

The court upheld McAllister’s conviction while clarifying that the Supreme Court precedent still had value, because “the state may now apply for a warrant to perform the test because it is only a possibility, and in the face of a refusal the officer must be able to present sufficient evidence of probable cause to a magistrate … Thus, if the officer does not have sufficient cause to obtain the warrant, then no warrant could be issued and such a test will not be authorized.”





 

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