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What are the consequences of refusing a breath test in Georgia?

Earlier this week on our Athens, Georgia, DUI law blog, we discussed how it is legal for drivers to refuse to take field sobriety tests, urine tests and breath tests after being suspected of drunk driving and why some drivers may choose to do so in order to avoid DUI charges or a conviction.

However, refusing to take these tests could still result in an arrest if the officer has other evidence to support claims that an individual may have been drinking and driving. Refusing field sobriety and breath tests can be beneficial in some cases, but it can also result in serious consequences in Georgia, such as a license suspension.

DUI arrests and accidents have dropped throughout the past few years in Georgia, which may suggest that fewer individuals are driving drunk. But police across the state have also reported that more drivers are refusing to take breath tests, which can make it more difficult to provide sufficient evidence in DUI cases. In an effort to make sure that drunk drivers are convicted, more police are starting to require drivers to take blood tests in order to provide sufficient evidence in DUI cases.

The Georgia State Patrol's DUI task force and Douglas County sheriff's deputies are currently the only two groups in the Atlanta area that routinely request search warrants to test a driver's blood if the suspected drunk driver refuses to take other tests. But more departments across the state of Georgia may begin to require blood tests as well, which can have a significant impact on one's DUI case.

If a suspected drunk driver does refuse to take field sobriety tests, urine tests and breath tests in Georgia, the individual could face serious consequences, especially if a blood test provides evidence that an individual was drunk at the time of his or her arrest.

Refusing a breath test could result in a one-year license suspension. If an individual is not convicted of DUI, he or she can apply for a restricted driver's license in order to keep some driving privileges. But if an individual refused a breath test and is later convicted of DUI, he or she will not be able to apply for a restricted license. Repeat offenders could have their licenses suspended for more than one year.

DUI arrests are a serious matter in Georgia, even if an individual is not convicted. For this reason, it is important that suspected drunk drivers make sure that their rights are being properly protected.

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