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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > DUI > What Are the Grounds for Challenging a Search Warrant in a Georgia DUI Case?

What Are the Grounds for Challenging a Search Warrant in a Georgia DUI Case?


In Georgia drunk driving cases, the police will often apply to a magistrate for a search warrant to gather evidence in support of the arrest. The most common reason for such search warrants is to compel a DUI suspect to submit to a blood or breath test. Such tests are used to determine the suspect’s blood-alcohol content (BAC), which is often the single most important piece of evidence used to convict someone of DUI.

Court of Appeals Orders Trial Judge to Reconsider Motion to Suppress

The defendant in a DUI case may file a motion to suppress any evidence that the police obtained illegally. This includes evidence seized without a valid search warrant. But even if the police had a search warrant, the suspect may still file a motion to suppress on any of the following grounds:

  • The warrant was insufficient on its face.
  • There was a lack of “probable cause” to justify the warrant.
  • The police executed the warrant in an illegal manner.

Under Georgia law, a motion to suppress “shall be in writing and state facts showing that the search and seizure were unlawful.” In other words, the defendant must allege a specific defect in the warrant or the search. Merely objecting to the search as illegal is insufficient.

A recent Georgia Court of Appeals decision, Cochran v. State, illustrates how this works in practice. In this case, the state charged the defendant with multiple DUI offenses arising from a traffic stop. The defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of a blood draw obtained under a search warrant as well as statements he made to the police. The trial court dismissed the motion, however, finding the defendant failed to identify any specific issues with the warrant.

The Court of Appeals disagreed. It noted the defendant’s motion specifically challenged the legality of the traffic stop leading to his arrest. He maintained the arresting officer failed to observe the defendant commit any traffic violation. The defendant further made a specific challenge to the validity of the search warrant for his blood. That was all that was necessary to present a valid motion to suppress. So at a minimum, the appellate court held, the trial judge had to consider the defense’s motion on the merits.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

Never assume just because the police arrest you for drunk driving that you are without any recourse for challenging the evidence against you. As the case above illustrates, you may have a number of grounds for contesting the legality of your arrest or even a search warrant issued against you. Our Georgia Board-certified DUI lawyers can review your case and develop a strategy for mounting a vigorous defense. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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