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Georgia police cannot enforce breath tests

Numerous traffic violations go out throughout Georgia every day. Many of these relate to driving under the influence of alcohol, and it has become much more difficult for Georgia law enforcement to arrest suspected drivers.

Recently, state legislators attempted to fix a law that claims refusal to take a breath test cannot come up in court against the arrested driver. A bill came up in Georgia’s Senate that would have corrected this problem, but it did not pass. It did not reinstate mandatory breath tests on the sides of roads. This makes it much easier for drivers to get out of DUI convictions if there is not substantial evidence to back up a police officer’s claims.

What does the law change?

Ultimately, the bill only changes what police officers can tell suspected drivers after pulling over to the side of the road. Officers can no longer tell drivers that refusal to take a breath test will go against them in court.

Police officers can still ask drivers to submit to breath tests, but drivers have the right to refuse. The authorities can also take urine and blood tests, but those require the police to arrest the driver first. A suspected drunk driver could mount the defense that the officer did not have the right to arrest him or her in the first place.

What other evidence can officers bring forth?

For police officers in Georgia to credibly arrest a suspected drunk driver, other evidence will be necessary. Officers can gather dashcam footage of the car swerving between lanes. An officer can also inform the court about how the driver displayed slurred speech or failed a field sobriety test.

The law still states that refusal to take a breath test could result in the state suspending the driver’s license. This is an administrative penalty rather than a criminal one, so it follows a different set of rules.