If you are convicted of DUI in Georgia, one penalty you will face is a license suspension for a minimum of 120 days due to administrative license suspension. The suspension period could be longer, depending on the number of prior drunk driving offenses on your record. It is also important to note that the Georgia Department of Driver Services may suspend your license before your case has even made it trial.
Requirements for License Reinstatement
Before applying for license reinstatement, you must complete a Risk Reduction Course, sometimes referred to as DUI School. This course consists of two components and costs a total of $335. Once you have completed the Risk Reduction Course and served the required period of suspension, you may apply for reinstatement. The reinstatement fee is $200 if paid by mail or $210 if paid in person.
An administrative license suspension hearing is triggered by sending or delivering a request for hearing, which has to be done within ten (10) business days after your arrest. At this hearing, you may attend with your counsel or you may even represent yourself (usually a VERY bad decision). The law does permit your attorney to proceed without you present, but your legal advisor may want you present, or need to have you testify.
Administrative license suspension hearings can be critical to a client’s DUI “criminal” case. To begin, if the licensee does nothing, his/her license (or privilege to drive in Georgia) will be suspended. By missing the “10 day letter” deadline, the client may lose all ability to drive in GA on the 31st day after arrest. This often hampers our efforts to successfully attack the DUI criminal case. A client without driving privileges often loses the motivation to challenge his or her case.
Your Presence Is Not Mandatory
If your attorney attends for purposes of trying to either win the case or to negotiate a non-DUI settlement with your police officer, you may avoid being suspended prior to the conclusion of the criminal case. This hearing (if it takes place) usually gets scheduled about 60 days after your arrest date, assuming you “appeal” the suspension on time.
This hearing may be the only time we are able to get your officer under oath and get answers to questions that could benefit your criminal case. Don’t pass up the opportunity to put the officer under oath and question him or her because it is the only sworn statement we will be able to have to use to impeach him or her at the later criminal proceeding.
A Georgia DUI charge usually triggers two separate legal proceedings. This means you will have to challenge issues in two different court cases, with two different judges. Aside from the traditional criminal prosecution the administrative license suspension issue of whether you will suffer a pre-trial loss of license for either refusing to take the test, or for submitting to the test at the station and having a result “over the legal limit.”
This is how the two proceedings relate to each other. Driving on the roads in Georgia is a privilege, not a right. By possessing a Georgia driver’s license you agree to submit to chemical testing if a police officer suspects you are intoxicated. The chemical test may be an analysis of blood, breath or urine. Failure to submit may result in an administrative (civil proceeding) license suspension.
You have 10 business days after your arrest date to file an appeal. In counting, Day 1 is the next calendar day. All state holidays and weekend days are NOT counted as “business” days. This must be in written form, raising the applicable legal challenges to your pending administrative suspension. The challenge must be filed by certified mail (U. S. postmark date) or by hand delivery to the Georgia DDS in Conyers. Missing the 10 business day deadline usually is a matter that is not “appealable”. Plus, this failure to request a hearing can cost you the right to drive for one year or longer.
Failing the blood, breath or urine test (resulting in a “per se’ (over the legal limit) reading) will result in a 1-year license suspension for first time offenders. The suspension period is for a 3 year term for second offenders in five years. A third offense in five years can result in a five year revocation (total loss) of license.
This update is written AFTER the change in Georgia DUI laws effective July 1, 2008 (as well as BEFORE) that date. The new D.U.I. law in Georgia changed the CRIMINAL “lookback” term to 10 years, but NOT the GA administrative license suspension laws.
A refusal suspension (or revocation) can be particularly damaging to your right to drive in Georgia, if you do not successfully challenge the legitimacy of the proposed suspension. NO LIMITED (WORK) PERMIT is available for such drivers, so winning or negotiating a “withdrawal” of the proposed suspension is critical.
If you have had another administrative suspension within in the last five years, this will count as a second administrative license offense. Your license can be suspended for three years. No work permit is allowed in such instances, whether you refused testing or took the test and had a breath test reading above the legal limit (0.08% for drivers age 21 who are not operating a commercial motor vehicle). The standard under Georgia law for drivers under age 21 is 0.02% and 0.04% for drivers in commercial motor vehicles.
Three or more DUI arrests within a five-year time frame (date-of-arrest to date-of-arrest) will prompt a 5-year suspension with no limited permit. This assumes that you had convictions or nolo contendere pleas to two D.U.I. offenses in Georgia, and a third arrest for DUI in GA has now been made. A limited driving permit may be available after the first two years. Underage drivers (under 21) are not eligible, for example.