What are Alco-Sensors in Georgia?
An alco-sensor is a breath test officers may ask you to submit to when pulled over for a suspected DUI. Many people confuse the alco-sensor test with the mandatory state-administered breath test. This article will hopefully help clear up the difference between the tests and help you understand your rights!
Does a DUI Suspect Have to Submit to the Georgia Alco-Sensor Test?
The short answer is no. Unlike the mandatory state-administered breath test, this test is voluntary. If a person submits to the alco-sensor test, it will give the officer a numeric reading. However, this reading is not admissible in court because the alco-senor has not reached a level of scientific reliability required by Georgia courts under the Harper standard. Harper v. State, 249 Ga. 519 (1982). Even though the number cannot be introduced in court, the arresting officer can testify whether the reading was positive or negative for the presence of alcohol. This is a much-debated topic in both defense and prosecution communities because juries are confused as to why the reading cannot be given to them. That is just one of the reasons why we recommend you do not submit to an alco-sensor test!
Another reason is that the officer administering the test may be influenced if the reading came back positive. The officer may choose to continue or end a DUI investigation based on the alco-sensor test. If the reading was positive, it can cause the officer to be biased when conducting the field sobriety tests.
In sum, the alco-sensor test is entirely voluntary, and we advise you not to take it! Our Georgia DUI Lawyers have over 50 years of experience, and we know that alco-sensor tests set you up to fail!
What is the Difference Between the State-Administered Test and the Alco-Sensor Test in Georgia?
Many of our clients say that they were unsure as to which tests were mandatory and which were voluntary. Frequently, they aren't even sure as to which test they submitted to. As stated previously, the alco-sensor test is an optional preliminary breath test. Sometimes it is called a P.B.T.
When a person is arrested, the police officer reads the Georgia Implied Consent Warning. After reading it, the officer will ask “Will you submit to the state-administered chemical test of your breath under the Georgia Implied Consent Law”? This test is mandatory. If refused, the consequences include a one-year hard license suspension, and this evidence can be used at trial. If the accused submits to the test, the results are admissible in at trial. The findings come with certain presumptions in Georgia law:
If the breath test results in .05 grams or less, then the presumption is that the person was not impaired. However, other evidence of impairment can rebut this presumption.
If the breath test produces a result between .05 - .08 grams, then there is not a presumption of impairment, but there is also not a presumption that they are not impaired. It can go either way with this result.
If the breath test result is .08 grams or higher, then there is a presumption of impairment. While .08 is also the legal limit, a person can still be charged with a DUI even if the result was less than .08 grams. This is called a DUI Less Safe, and the State would have to prove that due to the presumption of alcohol, a person was less safe to drive than if they had not consumed alcohol.
No Matter if you Refused the State Test or Took the Alco-Sensor Test, We Can Help
If you submitted to testing or accidentally refused the state's test, there is hope for you. However, you only have 30 days to have your DUI Lawyer in Georgia file an appeal to save your driver's license. Our Georgia DUI Attorneys have more than 50 combined years of experience helping Georgia drivers. We understand the complexities that result in a DUI case and are prepared to handle your case from start to finish. Contact us now.