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How Much Probable Cause is “Enough” for an Initial Stop? A DUI Arrest? A Blood Warrant? According to Police, it Varies

In the second paragraph of this article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about DUI refusals prompting warrants for blood, there is a telling quote from a Douglas Chief Deputy: “If we have someone refuse, and if we have enough probable cause, we contact a State Court judge and request a search warrant for that person’s blood.” How much probable cause is enough? The quote implies a distinction between the probable cause needed to make an arrest and the amount needed to get a State Court judge to sign off on a warrant for blood. In theory, they should be the same, but in practice, they are not. This distinction creates yet another parameter for Georgia citizens to consider when pulled over and suspected of a DUI.

As we recently covered in Miller v. State (2012) on our blog Cases of Note, every DUI arrest begins with an investigation in which you are in control of the admittance of evidence. You can refuse any tests, though refusals may be used as inferences against you. Our advice is that you shouldn’t take any test you aren’t comfortable taking, whether it be a field sobriety test or a State-administered chemical test. Since more and more police departments in Georgia are obtaining warrants for blood after refusals, individuals suspected of DUI face a further challenge: how much probable cause is enough to obtain a warrant for blood? Depending on the situation, “enough” probable cause to obtain a warrant could be determined by the few sobriety tests an individual agrees to take. Above all, only take the tests you feel comfortable taking. If police officers begin pushing for warrants for blood, if you are suspected of DUI you may well be damned if you do and damned if you don’t. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see if a stricter policy regarding blood warrants is enacted. Whatever the reform, we roll with the punches and always fight for every inch of our client’s rights.

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