DUI License Suspension in Georgia: Your 30-Day Warning

Police officer checks woman's license through her open car window possibleDUI license suspension

The State of Georgia takes drunk driving very seriously. Even before conviction, getting arrested for DUI can affect your right to drive in the state. You only have 30 days after an arrest to respond to a DUI license suspension in Georgia. If you don’t, it could keep you off the road for a year or more.

Georgia DUI Laws: Criminal Charges vs Administrative License Suspension

If a police officer places you under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it will likely trigger two separate DUI processes:

  • Criminal charges for Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • Administrative License Suspension (ALS) proceedings

Most often, these both start with a failed or refused blood alcohol test. However, they are independent actions from that point forward. Beating DUI charges in criminal court will not always prevent you from facing DUI license restrictions for the same event. The consequences of the two processes are different, as well. A criminal DUI conviction (even your first) can result in:

  • Jail time
  • Mandatory probation
  • Fines and costs
  • Community service
  • DUI school
  • Substance abuse treatment

DUI drivers license suspension is handled separately, through the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS). The process generally will start long before your criminal case is over and won’t always depend on a criminal conviction. If you wait too long, you could miss your chance to keep your license.

What Triggers a DUI License Suspension in GA

In the midst of a traffic stop or at the hospital after a drunk driving accident, a police officer can take your driver’s license if:

  • You blew more than the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) (generally 0.08 for adult non-commercial drivers)
  • A later blood or urine test revealed a BAC level above the legal limit
  • A later blood or urine test revealed illegal drugs (including marijuana)
  • You refuse to take a State BAC test after receiving an Implied Consent Warning

When the officer takes your license he or she should give you a DDS 1205 notice. This notice warns that your driver’s license will be suspended, operates as a temporary driving permit until the suspension goes into effect, and explains your right to challenge the suspension. But you must act quickly to take advantage of the notice and avoid a long-term suspension.

What to Do After Receiving a DUI License Suspension Notice

The clock starts ticking as soon as you receive a DDS 1205 notice. Once you are charged with a DUI you only have 30 days to file a written appeal to DDS. If you do nothing, after 45 days your license will be suspended for at least one year (or longer for repeated violations). That, along with the serious consequences of a criminal DUI conviction, means you should talk to an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. They can help you build a defense to the criminal charges, and choose between the two ways to address an ALS appeal:

Traditional ALS Appeal

Submitting a written appeal to the ALS DUI license suspension, along with a $150 filing fee, puts your driver’s license suspension on hold. Your case will be scheduled for an administrative hearing before the Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH). The hearings officer will have access to that driving record prior to the hearing. It will be up to you and your DUI attorney to prove:

  • You were not driving or in control of a moving motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • You were not involved in a serious injury accident or fatal car crash (if applicable)
  • You were not given an Implied Consent Warning before you refused the BAC test
  • The BAC test was improperly administered or done using faulty machinery
  • The officer was not properly trained in the use of the equipment

Within five days of the hearing, the hearing officer will decide whether to rescind or sustain your GA DUI License suspension. You then have a right to appeal that decision to a judge if you believe there was a legal error. If you lose your ALS appeal but your DUI criminal charges are later dismissed or reduced, (other than under a nolo contendere plea) the suspension will end and your license will be reinstated automatically.

Applying for an Ignition Interlock Limited Permit

Some drivers facing their first DUI can elect not to appeal the license suspension and instead seek an Ignition Interlock Limited Permit (IILP). This permit requires you to install a state-approved ignition interlock device into your vehicle that checks your BAC before allowing your vehicle to start, and then randomly while the vehicle is running. An IILP isn’t the same as an unrestricted driver license. While you are on the IILP, you can only drive to and from:

  • Work
  • School
  • Court
  • Probation
  • Medical appointments

You must drive with the interlock device on your car for at least 120 days if you failed your BAC test, or 12 months if you refused it. You will be responsible for all the installation and operation costs for the device during that period. If the device detects alcohol during that period, it will trigger an automatic 6-month suspension of your GA driver’s license.

Unlike a traditional ALS appeal, dismissal of your criminal DUI charges won’t end your IILP restriction period. Opting for the interlock device is a commitment to driving sober independent of the outcome of your criminal case. That’s why you should talk to a DUI attorney first, before signing up for the program. If there are strong DUI defenses available, it may be better to appeal the suspension and then fight the charges in court.

Don’t Wait: Start Your DUI License Suspension Appeal Right Away

Once again, you must decide whether to appeal a GA DUI license suspension within 30 days. There’s no time to waste. If you have been charged with a DUI and given a DDS 1205 notice, you need to talk to an experienced DUI attorney right away to decide whether to appeal or apply for an IILP. At The McCoy Law Firm, our criminal and DUI attorneys know how to defend against a positive breath or blood test, and how to win an ALS appeal and get your driving privileges back. If you are facing a DUI license suspension, don’t wait. Contact Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia so we can begin working on your case right away.

Categories: DUI