ADMINISTRATIVE LICENSE SUSPENSION
In most cases the arresting officer will take your license and send it to the Department of Drivers Services with a DDS FORM 1205. The Form 1205 will cause your license to be suspended unless you request a hearing within 10 business days of your arrest. If the hearing request is timely made, in proper form and the required $150 filing fee is paid, an ALS (Administrative License Suspension) hearing will be scheduled to determine if the officer was correct in requesting that your license be suspended. ALS hearings are usually at 8:30 a.m. and YOU AND/OR YOUR ATTORNEY MUST APPEAR. If you don't appear your license is suspended. Sometimes the officer does not appear and you can get a free pass but you or your attorney must be present to win. If the officer appears there are several possible outcomes, however, you will need an attorney to help you negotiate a deal or to conduct the hearing and save you license. Approximately 7 days after your hearing you can obtain a copy of the decision from the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings by clicking here. You will need to enter your docket number that appears on your hearing notice and your zip code.
A conviction in which there has not been a previous DUI conviction within 10 years will result in a 12 month suspension of your license. However, you are entitled to obtain from the court a certificate of first convictionthat you can take to a DDS office and get a limited permit to drive to and from work or school. Then you can get your license back in full after 120 days if you have attended the State risk reduction DUI school. So the reality is you can continue to drive on a first offense.
TWO CONVICTIONS WITHIN 10 YEARS
Things get drastically worse if you are convicted of DUI twice within 10 years. First, your license is suspended indefinitely. After 12 months you can get a limited driving permit upon proof that you have installed an ignition interlock device on your car which requires you to blow into the device to test for the presence of alcohol before your car will start. Then after using the ignition interlock device for 6 months you can apply for the restoration of your license. So effectively you can get your license back after 18 months if you successfully comply with interlock device prerequisite.
THREE CONVICTIONS WITHIN 10 YEARS
If you are convicted 3 times within five years of DUI you will be declared an habitual violator and your license will be revoked for 5 years. You may apply for a probationary license after your license has been surrendered for 2 years and you must attach an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
If you refuse to take the offered State administered chemical test of your blood, breath, urine or other bodily substance at the time of arrest your license will be suspended for 12 months. This is a hard suspension as there are no limited permits available during the 12 month period. See To Blow or Not to Blow for more information.
Persons charge with DUI who are under 21 years of age face stiffer suspensions. A first conviction will result in either a 6 month or a 12 month suspension of your license with no limited permit as is available to persons over 21. Whether it ends up as a 6 or 12 month suspension depends on whether the conviction is a “per se” or a “less safe” violation. Per se means that you are convicted of having over .02 gms percent of alcohol in your blood when you were driving. Less safe means that you are convicted of being a less safe driver because of your alcohol consumption without any reference to the blood alcohol level.
POTENTIAL DEFENSES TO PROTECT YOUR LICENSE
NO PROBABLE CAUSE
The Federal and State Constitutions guarantee that citizens are to be free from unreasonable search and seizure by the government. In the context of DUI cases that means that a police officer must have probable cause to stop your vehicle. He must observe something about your driving or a problem with your vehicle that justifies the stop. Police officers are trained to know this so they always will create a reason for the stop in their report even it is false. Luckily today most police vehicles are equipped with video cameras and microphones so an experienced attorney can review the circumstances surrounding the stop and determine whether or not probable cause existed. If probable cause was lacking an experienced attorney can get the BAT (blood or breath alcohol test) thrown out of court. Often there is insufficient evidence for the prosecution to proceed once the BAT is suppressed.
ERRORS IN ADVISING DRIVER OF RIGHTS
Georgia law requires very specific words and timing be used by the arresting officer advising a person suspected of driving under the influence of their implied consent rights. Again, an experienced attorney can review the video of the arrest and determine if the officer made a mistake. If he did an experienced attorney can get the BAT (blood or breath alcohol test) thrown out of court.
PROBLEMS WITH TESTING EQUIPMENT OR OPERATOR
The state crime lab requires regular maintenance and calibration of all breath testing equipment used in Georgia. Records must be kept. Also, officers must have a current certificate to operate the breath testing equipment. An experienced attorney can investigate the maintenance history of the testing device as well as the training of the operator to determine if there are any problems there that can be used to have the BAT thrown out of court.
Each case must be carefully examined by an experienced Marietta DUI defense attorney in order for an accused to know if he or she has a defense that could result in an acquittal or a reduction of the charge. Because every case presents a unique set of facts the potential defenses are numerous and are limited only by the experience and ingenuity of defense counsel.