DUI Convictions Down, Refusals To Take Sobriety Tests Up | WABE 90.1 FM

DUI Convictions Down, Refusals To Take Sobriety Tests Up

Feb 6, 2015

In Georgia, motorists can refuse to take a field sobriety test if they are pulled over and suspected of drunk driving.
Credit miguelrd68 / Special to WABE

Over the last five years, the number of DUI convictions has been dropping, but it’s not clear why.

According to Georgia Health News, it may be connected to more drivers refusing to take sobriety tests.

In Georgia, if an officer pulls you over and asks you to walk in a straight line, stand on one leg or blow into a breathalyzer, you can say no.

If you opt out, your license is suspended for one year, but you get a temporary license while you fight the charge.

So many DUI attorneys, such as Desmond Humphrey, openly advise people not to take the sobriety test. He says he doesn’t condone drunk driving, but refusing the sobriety test makes it easier to get charges dropped.

“They are finding out that not taking a breath test yields positive results in court,” Humphrey says. 

There were more than 10,000 fewer DUI convictions through November of last year compared to 2013.
Credit Department of Driver's Services

Many people who refuse to take a test never appear before a judge because there’s not enough evidence. This bothers Barry Martin, the state executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“The problem is not with that right to refuse," Martin says. "The problem is with the system that happens on the back end of that refusal.”

Martin recommends more counties follow the examples of the State Patrol's DUI task force, Gwinnett and Douglas counties. Those officers can get a court order to have blood drawn to test blood alcohol levels.

Since 2012, the number of license suspensions and DUI convictions have been dropping in Georgia, according to the DDS, but the number of refusals have been on the rise.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / Department of Driver's Services