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Can drivers refuse field sobriety and breath tests in Georgia?

When an individual is pulled over in a traffic stop in Athens, Georgia, for suspected drunk driving, police may request that the individual take several field sobriety tests or a breath test in order to determine if the individual should be arrested for DUI. There are many reasons why a driver might choose to refuse a field sobriety test or breath test in Georgia, but drivers also need to be aware of the consequences of doing so.

Field sobriety tests, urine tests and breath tests offer more evidence in drunk driving arrests, which increases the likelihood that an individual will be convicted of DUI. However, not all traffic stops are conducted lawfully by police and not all field sobriety, urine or breath tests are accurate. For this reason, drivers who are suspected of DUI understand that agreeing to take these tests could potentially result in being wrongly charged or convicted of drunk driving.

In Georgia, drivers can legally refuse to take a field sobriety test or breath test after being pulled over by police for suspected of drunk driving. Even if an individual has only had one or two drinks, the individual may choose to refuse tests in an attempt to protect his or her rights.

However, refusing to take a field sobriety test, breath test or urine test does not mean that an individual cannot be arrested by police for suspected drunk driving.

If an officer can provide other evidence that a driver is drunk, such as smelling alcohol on the driver's breath, noticing a lack of coordination when taking one's license out, slurring one's speech or bloodshot eyes, the individual can be arrested and required to take a blood test which can then be used as evidence in a DUI case.

We will continue this discussion later this week on our Athens, Georgia, DUI law blog, focusing on some of the consequences drivers may face for refusing to take a breath test after being suspected of DUI.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "DUI test refusals prompts blood warrants," Rhonda Cook, Dec. 23, 2011