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Is it possible to be too drunk to consent?

Is it possible to be too drunk to consent to voluntary DUI testing? According to a ruling passed by Georgia’s Supreme Court, yes. While this may seem hard to believe, this is exactly what happened to one man and his case moved all of the way up the rungs of the state’s legal ladder to our state Supreme Court.

When an individual receives a driver’s license in Georgia, he or she agrees to “implied” consent. One defense attorney compared this ability to consent, to contract law and the validity of the contract, if the signor is intoxicated. In cases like this, the contract would be considered void. Therefore, if an individual is too drunk, how is it possible to “knowingly and intelligently” volunteer for testing?

The case that sparked this debate began in 2012. A defendant, John Williams, was pulled over by officers, who suspected he was driving under the influence. The defendant agreed to blood testing. However, his attorney argued that his client was incapable of “an informed waiver of his constitutional rights.” As a result, the judge suppressed not only the blood test and BAC results for Williams, but also for five other defendants whose cases he’d recently heard.

It’s important for drivers to understand that the test to determine intoxication is voluntary and judges look at whether or not a defendant comprehends this when he or she consents to the test. In another case where the evidence was suppressed, the defendant was not fluent in English and may not have been able to completely understand the instructions given by the officer who pulled him over. Obviously, when applying the situation to the “Williams issue,” it is worth a careful review.

If you were pulled over for suspicion of DUI, it is important to discuss your case with a qualified attorney who understands Georgia’s laws and how they may apply to your case.

Source: AJC.com, “Georgia drivers claim they were too drunk to consent to DUI tests,” Oct. 29, 2015

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