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ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia's Supreme Court has overturned a law that allowed a driver's refusal to submit to a breath test to be used as evidence in a criminal trial for driving under the influence.
The high court unanimously agreed Monday that the provision violated the Georgia Constitution's protection against self-incrimination.
The court says Justice Nels S.D. Peterson acknowledged in the opinion that the Supreme Court's decision could make it more difficult to prosecute DUI offenses.
But Peterson wrote that the right of protection against self-incrimination "does not wax or wane based on the severity of a defendant's alleged crimes."
Atlanta Attorney Greg Willis argued the case on behalf of a client arrested for DUI in Clarke County in 2015.
"It would have no probative value, so why would you tell the jury about it and then say, 'it's not of any value to you when determining the case?' So, that's why it's excluded when a suspect of a murder invokes his right to a lawyer or remain silent or not talk to the police. So, it's the same principle with a DUI. When you refuse to waive your constitutional right against self-incrimination, it's not admissible in the trial," explained Willis.
State lawmakers will have now have to make changes to Georgia's DUI statute.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.