If you have been arrested for a DUI in Georgia, you need to know that the first 10 days following your arrest are the most important for protecting your right to drive. If the arresting officer issued what is commonly referred to as a “1205” your right to drive before you appear in court could be suspended. Under Georgia law, a driver has given “implied consent” to have his or her blood, breath, urine or other bodily substance tested for alcohol and/or drugs by driving on Georgia roadways. However, implied consent can be revoked by refusing to submit to a state-administered test at the request of a law enforcement officer. If a driver refuses to submit to a state-administered test, his or her license can be suspended for a 12-month period, with no limited permit available for work purposes. The good news is, you can potentially avoid this “hard suspension” by hiring an experienced attorney who knows what steps to take to protect your driving privileges.
The first step I take in representing any of my DUI clients is to file a 10-day letter, which gives formal notice of the appeal of the automatic suspension for failure to submit to a state-administered test. The 10-day letter must be submitted timely, along with the $250 filing fee, to ensure that the appeal is docketed and the automatic suspension is stayed pending administrative hearing. If no 10-day letter is submitted, the 30-day temporary permit issued by the arresting officer will expire and the driver’s license will be suspended for a period of one year. Once the 10-day letter is received by the Department of Driver’s Services, a hearing will be scheduled before an ALS judge in the jurisdiction where the arrest occurred. At the ALS hearing, if the officer fails to appear, the suspension will be dismissed and the license reinstated immediately. If the officer appears, you will either have a hearing to determine whether the arresting officer had probable cause for the stop and whether all procedures leading up to the request for the state-administered test where handled properly. If the court finds that there were not procedural errors, the license will be suspended for a 12-month period. The suspension is appealable to the Superior Court in the county where the arrest occurs. If the court believes that there was no probable cause for the stop or that some procedural error occurred during the stop or the arrest, the license would be reinstated. The final option is to enter an agreement to plea with the arresting officer. The terms of the agreement are negotiable and my goal with any case is to get an agreement that includes entering a plea to reckless driving rather than a DUI. If you sign an agreement to plea and then attempt to try the case, the trial court can immediately suspend the driving privileges of the accused so you have to be careful when deciding how to proceed at an ALS hearing.