As reported in on WJCL news, the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department (SCMPD) has begun a forced blood draw program, similar to the program in Gwinnett County. As a result, people exercising their statutory right to refuse testing will still be tested.
Gwinnett County police routinely force people to submit to testing by going to a magistrate who issues a warrant for the blood sample. As a result, the driver faces the administrative license consequences of the refusal (12 months without driving) and has a blood test result as well.
This is of course fundamentally unfair, but as mentioned countless times our courts are too intimidated by politics and public opinion to care.
A suspected drunk driver is read the Georgia Implied Consent Warning, which reads in part, “... If you refuse this testing your Georgia driver's license or privilege to drive on the highways of this State will be suspended for a minimum period of one year…”
So, people are given the choice to submit to testing and the consequences of the refusal. Yet, after they refuse, they are taken to jail and tested anyway. The warrant is “rubber stamped” by a magistrate, and the driver is subjected to the test anyway. If the driver resists, he or she is strapped down and forced.
Remember this is a misdemeanor offense, and we are strapping down people and forcing them to test. I will never forget seeing a video of this horrifying scene on Fox 5 Atlanta. If you have not seen the video, please watch it here. This is happening in the United States of America.
Now, lets talk basic fairness. After strapping down suspected drunk drivers and taking their blood, the person still gets the 12-month hard license suspension. Is that fair? Secondly, there is case law that clearly says a person has a right to rescind their refusal to test. So, if a person voluntarily submits after the officer gets a warrant, why isn't that a rescission of the refusal? Is this fair? If the person just passively submits, why isn't that a rescission of the refusal? Is that fair? If the Implied Consent rights card specifically tells a person the consequences of the refusal, how is it that the State can do whatever they want thereafter? Wouldn't it be (at least) a little fairer to add to the implied consent warning the truth of what will happen anyway, so a person can make an informed decision?
Finally, the most disturbing thing in the news story was that:
“Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department (SCMPD), the Chatham County District Attorney's Office and Chatham County Recorder's Court Judge Claire Williams will be working with officers from across Georgia participating in Operation Thunder.”
Excuse me but why in the hell is JUDGE CLAIRE WILLIAMS involved in Operation Thunder?” I deal with judges every day that are like a second prosecutor in the courtroom, yet very few are so brazen and shameless to publically admit that she is working with police officers.
Maybe she has forgotten about impartiality. Maybe before she signs the warrants she should have the police officer provide her the probable cause needed to issue them. Maybe she should remember that she is not part of DUI Enforcement but rather a member of ANOTHER BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT ALTOGTHER! She is supposed to “judge,” not participate.
This disgusts me to no end.