Many people do not have any idea that their DUI involves more than just the criminal court case they have pending. The following is CRITICAL information YOU MUST know if you have been arrested for DUI in the state of Georgia and you are OVER 21 years old:
Your case is not only a criminal case, but likely a civil case as well. The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) will take measures to suspend your license if you either refused to submit to a breath/blood test or if you did submit to a breath test where your BAC was .08 or higher. You very likely received notice of this through the “DS-1205” form the officer filled out and gave you after your test or refusal – it serves as both a temporary 30 day driver’s license as well as a notice of your impending suspension. In a case where you refused a test, or if you failed to “blow hard enough” and the officer considered it a refusal, your license could be suspended for one year.
You only have 10 business days from arrest to submit a request along with a $150 filing fee to the DDS in order to obtain a hearing and contest your license suspension. This Administrative License Suspension (ALS) hearing will then be scheduled for a date within 30 days of the receipt and filing of your request and fee. The letter will also prevent the 30 day temporary permit received through the DS-1205 form from expiring until after the hearing, should the hearing be scheduled more than 30 days from your arrest. If you do not properly request the hearing before 10 business days have passed, the DDS will automatically suspend your license, though your DS-1205 form will still serve as a temporary license for the initial 30 days.
If you properly submitted a request for a hearing it may be possible to save your license, even if it is based on a “refusal.” This hearing will be in front of an Administrative Law Judge, and, again, is totally separate from any criminal proceedings. At the hearing, you or your attorney can cross examine the arresting officer and argue to the judge why the arrest or refusal was invalid. There are special rules and specific legal issues that must be addressed, so it is advisable that you do hire an attorney if possible. Sometimes, if you are very lucky, the officer may not appear and the suspension will be rescinded, i.e. dismissed by the judge. Additionally, oftentimes negotiations can be made with the arresting police officer where they agree to rescind the suspension.
If you lost your ALS hearing or if you never requested one your license will be administratively suspended. If your license was suspended due to a “refusal,” your license will be suspended for one year unless the criminal DUI charge is ultimately reduced to a Reckless Driving charge, is dismissed outright, or you are found not guilty at the DUI criminal trial. There is no temporary license or early reinstatement of your license in Georgia if you are convicted of or plead guilty to the criminal DUI charge if your license was administratively suspended due to a “refusal.” However, if your license was administratively suspended for blowing above a .08 BAC rather than a “refusal” and it is your first DUI conviction, you may be eligible for a temporary driver’s license that allows you to go to work, school and medical appointments for a period of 120 days. Additionally, these first time DUI offenders whose license was previously administratively suspended for blowing above a .08 BAC can get their license fully reinstated after that 120 day temporary license period by taking a DUI class and paying a reinstatement fee to the DDS.