One of the biggest decisions suspected impaired drivers have to make when pulled over is whether or not to submit to a roadside breathalyzer test. Now, you don’t have to.

In February, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that using a driver’s refusal in court against him or her was unconstitutional. Governor Brian Kemp’s signing House Bill 471 changed the law to make submitting to a breathalyzer test optional – not legally required. Previously, such a refusal would have taken away the driver’s driving privileges – before impairment was proven in a court of law.

Both the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision and the new law follow the legal principle of drivers being innocent until proven guilty.

That said, anyone pulled over for any reason should be cooperative, courteous and compliant with a law enforcement officer’s direction. However, it is important to understand that from a legal perspective, you are only required to give an officer two pieces of information: your name and address.

While refusing the roadside test is probably the most legally significant step for drivers suspected of being impaired to avoid, a local attorney adds these “don’ts” to his advice:

  • Do not respond to an officer’s preliminary questions, such as “Where have you been?,” “Have you been drinking?,” and “How much alcohol have you had?”
  • Refuse to perform all field sobriety tests including the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, The One Leg Stand and The Walk and Turn.
  • Do not agree to let the officer search your vehicle, your person or your property.

Of course, the best course of action would be to avoid being pulled over. Driving with any level of impairment is dangerous and can be deadly.