Newsbrief: Georgia Supreme Court Throws Out Driver Drug Test Law 10/10/03

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The Georgia Supreme Court Monday threw out a state law requiring drivers involved in serious accidents to submit to drug tests or lose their drivers' licenses for a year. Under the law, any driver involved in an accident involving serious injury or death is presumed to have previously consented to tests to determine the presence of drugs or alcohol. But the court held that such a broad "implied consent" law violated both the state and federal constitutions because it "authorizes a search and seizure without probable cause."

Under the law, refusing to submit to a drug test meant drivers could have their licenses suspended for at least a year. A refusal could also be entered into evidence against a driver at any trial. Carey Don Cooper was involved in a two-vehicle accident and agreed to be tested after a state trooper informed him of the informed consent law. But he later challenged it in court, lost, and was convicted and sentenced to 15 days in jail because the tests showed trace amounts of cocaine in his system. He appealed.

Georgia law enforcement is not pleased, with a spokesperson describing Attorney General Thurbert Baker as "disappointed," and prosecutors warning the Associated Press that enforcement would be crippled. But attorney William Doyle Healen III, who argued the case, pointed out that the judges left intact a provision requiring testing for those arresting for driving under the influence.

"If somebody's knee-walking drunk and a cop sees a bunch of beer bottles in his car and the person's slurring his speech, certainly the police are going to be able to request that person's blood," said Healan. "This is not throwing out all blood, breath and urine tests. 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," he said.

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Issue #306, 10/10/03 Editorial: Summer's Over -- Long Live Summer | Curtain Closes on Ontario's Summer of Legalization: Court Ruling Reinstates Possession Law, Loosens Medical Marijuana Rules | Change the Climate Ad Campaign Riles DC Pundits, Politicos | California in the Era of Arnold | New England "Governors' Summit" on Drugs: Drug War Horse and Pony Show Inside, Protestors Outside | This Week in History | Urgent Action Appeal on Singapore Drug Case from Amnesty International | Newsbrief: In Fall Term, Supreme Court Rejects South Carolina Crack Mom Appeal, Accepts Case on Ex-Drug User's Rights Under Americans With Disabilities Act | Newsbrief: Georgia Supreme Court Throws Out Driver Drug Test Law | Newsbrief: Walters Lies Pile Up in Canada Diatribe | Canadian Prime Minister Talks About Toking Up | Newsbrief: Sarasota Police Lure Would-Be Drug Dealers for Profit | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Newsbrief: Pentagon Adds Drugs to List of Foes in Afghanistan | Newsbrief: Vacation in Bermuda? Anti-Marijuana Campaign Underway | DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | The Reformer's Calendar
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