If you are arrested in Georgia for DUI, you should immediately have two concerns; 1) you have criminal charges pending against you after you were cited with at least one ticket for DUI, which is a misdemeanor, and 2) a civil case relating to a potential suspension of your driver’s license. The criminal charges pertain to the tickets that the officer wrote and will be handled through the normal criminal justice process. The civil case pertains to your driver’s license and, as we will discuss in this blog post, time is of the essence.
You may not know it, but if you have a Georgia driver’s license you have actually given consent to the State to obtain a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine. Any Officer in the State of Georgia, upon making an arrest for DUI, can request a chemical test to determine whether or not you are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. That said, the State does allow a driver to withdraw that consent and “refuse” any chemical testing by the State. The process by which the Officer requests the test and the response you give the officer is crucial in determining the status of your license. Normally, the Officer will seize your driver’s license and submit DDS 1205 form which is a petition to the Department of Driver Services (“DDS”) to suspend your driver’s license. You have 10 business days from the date of your arrest to appeal any petitions submitted to DDS. The Department will then place your case onto an Administrative License Suspension hearing calendar where you can contest the suspension of your license (SEE ALS HEARING BLOG POST).
Refusals vs. Breath Test Cases
The Officer will note on the DS-1205 petition whether or not you agreed to submit to chemical testing or if you refused to take the test the officer requested. The length of the suspension and the type of license you may be eligible for are all dictated by whether or not you agreed to take the test.
If this is the first time you have been arrested for DUI alcohol, and you agree to take a the State administered test, and the results of that test are above a .08, then you may be eligible for a temporary work permit immediately after the license suspension goes into place. The temporary work permit will allow you to travel to and from school/work. Before the criminal case is resolved, DDS requires drivers eligible for a temporary work permit to go onto a temporary work permit for at least 30 days, complete the Georgia Risk Reduction Course (DUI School), and pay a reinstatement fee of $220 before reinstating the drivers full driving privileges. On the other hand, if the driver refuses to take the test on a first lifetime DUI arrest, then DDS will issue a one year hard suspension, meaning no driving at all. All suspensions will run immediately if you do not submit an appeal within 10 business days of your arrest.
The 10-day Letter
On the back of your DDS 1205 form you will find the required process of appealing any petition submitted by the Officer to suspend your license. Ultimately, DDS requires that you send a letter to DDS indicating that you wish to appeal any license suspension and wish to be placed onto an Administrative License Suspension hearing. DDS also requires that you include a $150 filing fee with your letter. It is good practice to send all 10-day letters by certified mail to insure that your request for an appeal is received by the department. Also, it’s a good idea to send the letter even if the Officer did not seize your driver’s license. The Officer does have some time to submit the petition at a later date or he/she may submit the petition and forget to take your license. In those cases, it’s always best to play it safe and send a letter to DDS to make sure your license does not go into automatic suspension.
There are ways to avoid license suspensions, regardless of what your decision was at the time of your arrest. We encourage anyone who has been arrested in Georgia for DUI to contact our office immediately (404-581-0999) for a FREE consultation. W. Scott Smith, P.C. is dedicated to helping our client’s navigate through an often very difficult license suspension process.