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Can Georgia police officers draw blood at drunk driving stops?

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2022 | DUI |

Up to 100 Georgia police officers began training as certified phlebotomists in late 2021.

Authorities wanted a better way to collect more accurate blood-alcohol readings from DUI suspects and differentiate between alcohol and other impairments, such as prescription or illegal drugs.

How it works

The Governors Highway Safety Association funded this initiative to collect blood evidence early in the investigation when alcohol measurements are more accurate. Drivers may submit to a blood test, but if they do not, officers can obtain a search warrant for their blood.

Officers must have probable cause for the initial pull over and the request for a test. If the driver refuses a test, the officer must wait for an official warrant signed by a judge before administering the test.

How it compares to other tests

Blood tests are significantly more accurate than breath tests when measuring alcohol because breath tests are susceptible to environmental factors. Breath tests may also produce false positives when detecting products with any alcohol content. Examples include:

  • Cough syrup
  • Mouthwash or breath freshener spray
  • Dentures that use adhesive
  • Medications administered with an inhaler

Burping before a breath test may draw up alcohol from the stomach and into the mouth, creating a false positive. Even recent exposure to paint fumes may show up as alcohol.

All states follow implied consent law, which means that receiving a driver’s license implies consent to testing if caught driving while impaired, and officers must follow the proper protocol and administer the blood test correctly to use it as evidence.