Trained officers will soon be able to draw blood from DUI suspects

The Governor's Office of Highway safety ways within the year close to 100 officers will be certified to draw blood from a suspected impaired driver. 

Authorities say it will provide key evidence in DUI prosecution cases.

"The point of this is to get drunk drivers off the road, impaired drivers off the road," said Roger Hayes, GOHS Law Enforcement Services Director.

Hayes says under a new program, some law enforcement officers will be going through training to become certified phlebotomists. They'll be able to draw blood from DUI suspects. The location from any blood draws will take place in a sanitized environment which would be determined by the law enforcement agency.  Blood tests are more accurate and more detailed than breathalyzers.

"There are so many other impairments, prescription drugs and illegal drugs as well as alcohol so the blood will help us test for all of those things," said Hayes.

The faster the evidence is collected, the more accurate the reading will be. Hayes says with COVID maxing out hospitals, having trained officers able to draw blood is quicker.

"For example, with alcohol, every hour you wait the alcohol blood content reduces by .0125 grams per hour," said Hayes.

All blood draws will be administered after the suspect has given consent or a search warrant has been signed by a judge. 

"Georgia law enforcement can get a search warrant for your blood, and at that point, the driver has no choice," said Hayes.

The Governor's Office of Highway Safety says not only will the evidence help prosecute cases, this could also be a deterrent if a driver knows a cop is also a phlebotomist.

"Knowing law enforcement will be able to gather forensic evidence and better prosecute the case, we're hoping to get voluntary compliance with people not getting behind the wheel and driving," said Hayes.

The first group of law enforcement officers will begin classes Oct. 4. The first to go through the program will be state troopers, the Georgia State Patrol Night Hawks and H.E.A.T. teams from across the state.

More than a dozen states already have similar programs. 

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