Update: Charges against Gwinnett chairman dropped

ATLANTA – Charges against Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charles Bannister, who was arrested for DUI Monday, were dismissed today after a blood test returned negative results, according to published reports.

Bannister was driving a county-owned car when he was arrested at about 8 p.m. on Monday by a Gwinnett County sheriff’s deputy; he was booked into the county jail on two charges – DUI and improper turning, jail records indicate. According to reports, the deputy responded to a tip that Bannister had a number of beers at a Lilburn restaurant.

“I want to extend my apology, personally, to Chairman Bannister, his wife and family for this entire incident,” the Gwinnett Daily Post quoted Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway as saying. “At this point, I feel the deputies probably relied on eyewitness statements to too great an extent.”

From the beginning, Bannister said he would be exonerated.

“As I already knew, the blood samples analyzed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have proven that I was not under the influence of alcohol or any other substances on the night of my arrest,” Bannister said in a statement. “I have been completely exonerated and am relieved that the truth has now been revealed.

“I will continue to do as I have done for more than 37 years and focus on serving the citizens of Gwinnett County and on my family,” Bannister added. “They are truly the ones who have suffered most from these false charges.”

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