When an individual who is charged with a DUI is also injured during the incident, it is possible that they may need to receive medical attention at the scene. Furthermore, whether or not a person receives that medical care can have an effect on their DUI case, making it important to consult with an Atlanta DUI lawyer about this situation, to determine whether nor not it can be used as a defense.
Medical treatment can hurt an individual’s case if they have been in a car accident, because medical personnel may take their blood samples as a test administered in the course of the medical treatment. The prosecutor, using the power of the court, might attempt to subpoena those medical records later as a way to circumvent the Georgia implied consent statute, which gets complicated in the context of a case involving medical treatment in a hospital.
If someone has been involved in an accident, it complicates things for an officer, because if the individual is not under arrest they cannot be read implied consent in Georgia. When they are receiving medical treatment, it is the primary concern and they cannot exactly be in handcuffs while receiving medical treatment in a hospital or doctor’s office.
Therefore, in many cases if someone receives medical treatment following an accident or other incident and there is a DUI investigation ongoing, or if they are transported to the hospital, the officer will not have an opportunity to ask them to take the state-administered chemical test on their blood, breath, and urine.
The only way the state can obtain the chemical test for their blood is through the hospital records. So receiving medical attention can be helpful, because if the hospital does not administer that test, the officer is unable to read and imply the consent, and the officer is unable to get either a consent or refusal to obtain that information from the individual’s body. Then the state is left without a key piece of evidence in almost every DUI case. That key evidence is either acceptance in a test result or the individual’s refusal and the consciousness of guilt argument that the state will attempt to use later against them because of their refusal.
In some cases DUI officers will administer field sobriety tests in lieu of making sure someone is medically sound. If someone needs medical treatment and they are being investigated for DUI, the results of the scientific field sobriety test can be affected. If someone in fact needed medical treatment for injuries to their legs, body, or perhaps their head, and they later get this medical treatment only after the officer failed to ensure they received it, the defense can use the fact that they were injured to discount the value of those scientific field sobriety tests. Those include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one-leg stand test.
If someone is injured, they cannot perform those tests properly. If they cannot walk or stand, the one-leg stand and walk and turn test will be affected. If they received a head injury, it is quite possible that the nystagmus exhibited by their eyes was a result of that head injury and not because of the consumption of alcohol.
It is this failure to qualify the individual medically for these tests which can be used against the officer when they testify at trial, to cast doubt in the juror’s mind. It can create reasonable doubt that the results of those tests were accurate and that the test cannot be relied on as indicative of impairment. If the jurors believe that the individual was not impaired, that often leads to a not guilty verdict.