ADMINISTRATIVE DRIVER’S LICENSE SUSPENSION – WHAT IS IT AND HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM MY DUI?
Many people accused of DUI have no idea that their license could be suspended before they even go to court. Such a suspension comes in the form of Administrative Driver’s License Suspensions. An accused’s compliance, or lack thereof, will determine whether an officer issues a form-1205 and subsequently, whether the accused’s license is at stake through administrative suspension.
WHAT CAUSES ADMINISTRATIVE LICENSE SUSPENSIONS?
So how do you know if you’ve got to deal with an Administrative License Suspension (ALS) Hearing? The most important factor is whether you complied with state administered testing of your blood, breath, or urine. The arresting officer, if they do their job correctly, is required to read Georgia Implied Consent Notice to a suspect if they intend to request the suspect’s compliance for these tests. A suspect responding “no”, or responding with refusal of any kind, is subject to this hearing. A Form 1205 notice will be issued to the suspect and their license will be taken. However, compliance and cooperation does not automatically mean that an accused DUI driver will not have to deal with Administrative Suspension.
If you agree to take the test and your blood alcohol level amounts to a “per se” violation, the officer is still required by law to submit a sworn report to initiate an administrative license suspension against you. The current “per se” violation amounts are 0.08 grams BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) if you are age 21 or over, 0.02 grams BAC if you are under 21, and 0.04 grams BAC if you were operating a commercial vehicle.
I REFUSED THE TEST, OR I’M CONSIDERED A “PER SE” VIOLATION: WHAT NOW?
Old Georgia DUI law gave accused DUI drivers only 10 business days to submit their petition against this automatic suspension, but that law changed in 2017 to allow for 30 calendar days from the date of arrest to submit a petition. Submission of this petition announces to the Office of State Administrative Hearings that you intend to petition against the DDS and their intention to administratively suspend your license. It is important to note that there is an alternative available for both refusal and “per se” violators. Accused individuals may elect to install an Ignition Interlock Device on their vehicle and apply for an Ignition Interlock Device Limited Permit. This will save their privilege to drive pending the result of the DUI case itself. The amount of time that the device must remain on your vehicle is 4 months for a “per se” individual, and one full year for a refusal individual.
Failure to file your petition within the allotted time or install the Ignition Interlock Device will result in a suspension of your Georgia Driver’s License. This option is simply called doing nothing.
I UNDERSTAND ALS SUSPENSIONS AND HOW TO RESPOND: WHAT’S AT STAKE?
As previously stated, failure to respond to a Form 1205 can result in steep consequences for your Georgia Driver’s License and privilege to drive in the State of Georgia. An outright refusal carries a suspension of one year and does not allow for any regular, limited, or any other driving permit. A “per se” violation will result in the loss of your license, but you will be eligible for a limited 30 day permit and eligible to reinstate after 30 days, assuming this is your first DUI. If you intend to install the Ignition Interlock Device, you must do so within 30 days of your arrest. There is a $25 installation fee and you must also agree to waive your right to a petition of the Form 1205 ALS Suspension. As previously stated, the length of time required to maintain the device varies from 4 months to one year depending on the type of ALS Suspension. You will be expected to have absolutely zero traffic incidents or citations while holding an Ignition Interlock Device Permit. Failure to keep a spotless driving record will result in a revocation of this permit and a 6 month hard suspension of your license.
I’M APPEALING MY ALS SUSPENSION: WHAT NOW AND HOW DO I MAKE IT HAPPEN?
Nobody wants a one year suspension on their license, and very few people willingly or gladly install Ignition Interlock Devices on their cars with all the monthly upkeep that comes with it. The alternative is to appeal against the DDS and have a hearing with the Office of State Administrative Hearings. There is a direct process available to accused DUI drivers to request this hearing. You, or your attorney on your behalf, may submit a letter of petition requesting this hearing to the Department of Driver Services (DDS), postmarked no later than 30 days after you received notice through your form 1205. Your appeal must include a filing fee of $150.00 (check, money order, or credit card) payable to the DDS. You cannot miss the deadline on this. Failure to request a timely appeal will result in the above mentioned suspensions of your Georgia driving privileges.
At your hearing you can expect one of two outcomes. 1) Your officer does not appear for your hearing. In this scenario the officer is considered in default through lack of appearance and you are automatically granted your petition to reverse the suspension. Congratulations, you’ve won! This is the easy outcome. 2) Your officer appears in court to uphold their testimony against you. This is the tricky alternative. At this point there are many possible outcomes available to you. The outcomes depend significantly on the facts of the DUI case and the cooperation level of your officer. Ultimately a hearing is held and the Judge of the Office of State Administrative Hearings will hear both your side and the officer’s side of your case. Typically the Judge will then take the case into consideration for 5-10 business days before publishing their verdict on your petition. A reversal means, again, congratulations, you’ve won! The suspension is reversed against you. A upholding of the Form-1205 means the Judge ruled in the officer’s favor, and you’re now facing the penalties of the ALS Suspension. There are some middle grounds between these two outcomes, but those are normally reached through careful negotiation with your officer on a case by case basis.
I’M STILL NOT SURE WHERE MY CASE FITS IN ALL OF THIS INFORMATION: WHAT DO I DO NOW?
ALS cases, and more broadly DUI cases, are significantly unique on a case by case basis. What is true and correct for one case may be wildly unsuitable to another. Even a person committed to “pro se” representation would be wise to seek the counsel of experts when it comes to DUI and ALS. The most important consideration when it comes to a DUI/ ALS defendant is the promptness in their action. The longer you hesitate, the shorter you or your attorney’s time becomes to properly defend your case. We encourage you to contact us if you fall anywhere in the category of ALS or DUI cases, and we look forward to working with you.