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License Suspension after DUI Conviction in Georgia

Following a DUI conviction, the State of Georgia has authority to suspend/ revoke the driver’s license of the accused. However, the length of the suspension/ revocation depends on his/her past criminal history. In Georgia, the Department of Driver’s Services determines the duration of a license suspension/ revocation by looking at the past 5 years of criminal history.

For a first DUI conviction in the last 5 years, the maximum license suspension is 12 months. However, if a Risk Reduction course, or otherwise known as DUI School, is completed and a reinstatement fee is paid, the license of the accused may be reinstated after 120 days. During this period, the accused may be eligible to apply for a limited driving permit for the duration of the suspension if he/she is 21 years or older and prior to the suspension he/she validly held a Georgia driver’s license.

However, if the driver’s license of the accused was suspended after the arrest for the same offense that he/she was convicted of, because either (1) he/she did not install an interlock device within 30 days of arrest; (2) failed to appeal the driver’s suspension within 30 days of arrest; or (3) did appeal the license suspension within the deadline, but subsequently, lost the appeal, then the accused will be ineligible for a limited permit following his/her DUI conviction.

Furthermore, if the accused was convicted of DUI Drugs instead of DUI Alcohol, no limited permit is available. The entire suspension must be completed in order to reinstate his/her driver’s license.

Alternatively, for a second DUI conviction in the last 5 years, the consequences will include at least an 18-month license suspension. However, the license suspension can be prolonged for 3 years if certain conditions are not met. During this period, there is a hard suspension of 120 days where no limited permit is available. However, after this term has been completed, the accused may be granted a limited permit if he/she installs an interlock device in their vehicle for a minimum period of 8 months. If the interlock device was maintained properly for the full 8 months and a reinstatement fee is paid, he/she may be eligible for early reinstatement, contingent on whether any other conditions, which may be required, are completed. However, even if the accused failed to install an interlock device, he/she would still be eligible for a limited driving permit after he/she has successfully completed 18 months of the suspension.

Finally, for a third DUI conviction in the last 5 years, the consequences include a 5-year license revocation. In these cases, there is a 2-year hard revocation period, which otherwise means that there is no availability for a limited permit during that period. However, after two years, the accused may apply for a probationary license for the remainder of the revocation period.

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At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, we understand that there are grave consequences following a DUI conviction, including a license suspension or revocation. Our attorneys are knowledgeable about all possible options for our clients dealing with a pending DUI charge. Therefore, if you have been recently arrested for a DUI or your case is currently pending, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Georgia Administrative License Suspension (ALS) Hearings during the Pandemic

Following a DUI arrest, the State of Georgia has authority to suspend the driver’s license of the accused in a civil proceeding, which is separate from the criminal case, if one of the following occurs:

  1. After the accused has been arrested, the officer on the scene read the accused the correct “Implied Consent” notice and he/she refused to comply with either a breath, blood, or urine test in order to determine their blood alcohol content; OR
  2. The accused consented to a breath, blood, or urine test and the results showed that the blood alcohol content of the accused was above the legal limit.

At this time, the accused has a few options. He/she can either appeal the license suspension or install an interlock device in their vehicle for the duration of the suspension. However, in this blog we will solely discuss the former.

Appeal of License Suspension

In the normal world in which we are not dealing with a global pandemic, following a DUI arrest, if one of the two circumstances above are true, the accused has 30 days from the date of the arrest to file an appeal of his/her license suspension. Due to the concerns and difficulties surrounding Covid-19, the State of Georgia has extended the deadline, which allows the accused to file an appeal within 120 days of arrest. This gives individuals charged with a DUI much more time to consider all their options following their arrest. However, if the appeal is not filed within the new extended deadline then the driver’s license of the accused will be suspended. In Georgia, there are two different types of license suspensions:

  1. 12-month suspension: This is also known as a “hard suspension.” This type of suspension happens if subsection (1) above occurs. In other words, the accused refused to comply with either a breath, blood, or urine test following the reading of the Implied Consent notice. For this suspension, there are no forms of temporary or restricted licenses. If the accused does not file an appeal or fails to install an interlock device within the stated time frame, his/her license will be suspended for an entire year.
  2. 30-day suspension: This type of suspension occurs if the circumstances surrounding the arrest mirror subsection (2) above. This means that the accused consented to a breath, blood, or urine sample and the results of that sample showed that his/her blood alcohol content was above the legal limit. During this 30-day suspension, if the accused attends a Georgia DUI School and pays a reinstatement fee of $210, the accused can obtain a restricted license, and furthermore, have their driver’s license reinstated after 30 days.

At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, we understand that there are grave consequences following a DUI arrest, including the possibility of a license suspension. Therefore, our attorneys are knowledgeable about all possible options for our clients and have vast experience dealing with such appeals. Therefore, if you have been arrested for a DUI and are potentially facing a license suspension, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

DUI: Drugs

DUI drugs charges can be a source of confusion for defendants and lawyers alike. This article will explore these laws and explain their meaning, what must be proven, how they are proven, and how to defend against them.

There are three ways to charge DUI Drugs cases: (1) DUI Drugs – Less Safe; (2) DUI Drugs – Per Se; and (3) DUI Drugs – Combined Effect.

DUI Drugs – Less Safe

Georgia law prohibits a person from driving a vehicle while under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive. O.C.G.A. 40-6-391(a)(2). This “less safe” statute requires proof (beyond a reasonable doubt) that the quantity or amount of the prescribed, illicit, or even over-the-counter drug in the person’s system caused impairment or rendered the person to be a “less safe driver.” Therefore, a person can be prosecuted even though the drugs were legally prescribed or were provided over-the-counter, so long as consuming those drugs caused you to be a less safe driver.

The “less safe” provision is the most common way DUI drugs charges are prosecuted. The State is not required to prove the accused had a particular level of drugs in their system. As a result, the State may prosecute even though no chemical test exists. The arresting officer will look for the following indications of impairment:

  • Admitting to using drugs
  • Bloodshot or watery eyes
  • Slurred or slow speech
  • Presence of drugs in vehicle or on person
  • Bad driving
  • Poor performance on Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

The key to defending these “less safe” drugs cases is raising doubt as to whether the drugs taken were the actual cause of the bad driving complained of. This causation element is something the State is required to prove. There are many reasons for bad driving unrelated to the consumption of drugs. In addition, defense counsel should raise challenges to the arresting officer’s training and experience in detecting and investigating DUI Drugs cases. In many instances, the arresting officer does not have the degree of training required to properly investigate these cases such as an officer who is qualified as a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). Furthermore, defense counsel should raise a Harper challenge to the scientific validity of the Romberg Field Sobriety test if that test was performed by the accused. [1]

DUI Drugs – Per Se

Georgia law makes it illegal for a person to operate a vehicle while there is any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance, as defined in O.C.G.A. § 16-13-21, present in the person’s blood or urine, or both, including the metabolites and derivatives of each or both without regard to whether any alcohol is present in the person’s breath or blood. O.C.G.A. 40-6-391(a)(6).

Given the language of the law, the mere presence of a drug (prescribed or not) will constitute a violation of this code section. The question becomes how an arresting officer would know whether the accused had a valid prescription or not? Without an admission, this would be difficult for a prosecutor to prove.

Issues of proof aside, Love v. State, 271 Ga. 398 (1999), has essentially wiped out the “DUI Drugs – Per Se” law entirely. The Love case held that O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391(a)(6), was too broadly drawn, as it incriminates both legal and non-legal users of marijuana, constituting a violation of the Equal Protection clause of both the Georgia and United States Constitutions. This is the primary reason most DUI Drugs cases are prosecuted as “Less Safe” cases.

What remains of the DUI Drugs – Per Se statute is to punish those cases where someone is driving with drugs in their system which offer no lawful use (cocaine, heroin, etc.).

DUI Drugs – Combined Influence

Under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391(a)(4), a person is prohibited from driving a vehicle while under the influence of any two or more of the substances provided in the DUI code section (alcohol, drugs, or toxic vapors) to the extent it is less safe for the person to drive.

Again, we see the State being required to prove the accused was a less safe driver because of the combined effects of two or more intoxicants (alcohol and drugs – prescribed or not). Although these cases present greater challenges, a skilled attorney can raise doubt as to whether the combined effect of intoxicants actually caused less safe driving.  

If you or someone you know has been arrested for driving under the influence, contact the law firm of W. Scott Smith at 404.581.0999 today for a free case evaluation. You’ll find a local Atlanta DUI attorney ready to aggressively fight on your behalf. You can also find out more detailed information about Atlanta laws here.


[1] The Romberg test consists of the subject tilting their head back, closing their eyes, and counting in their head until the subject believes thirty seconds has elapsed and then telling the officer when they believe those thirty seconds had elapsed.

VIDEO – Effects on a Drivers License of a First DUI Conviction in a Five Year Period in Georgia

by Ryan Walsh and Scott Smith

We get questions all the time regarding what happens to your Georgia drivers license after a DUI conviction. The Georgia Department of Driver Services looks at Drivers License suspensions for DUI convictions in five year periods from the date the incident occurs.

The information provided in this video blog is for people that hold Georgia drivers licenses. If you do not hold a Georgia drivers license, you will not be eligible for a limited driving permit in Georgia and must serve the full period of suspension before you are eligible for a drivers license in Georgia.

If you have an out of state drivers license, it is important to consult with an attorney licensed to practice in the state you hold your drivers license about the consequences of a DUI on your out of state drivers license. Please remember, if you do not have a Georgia drivers license, you will not have the privilege to drive in Georgia during the suspension period.

If this is your first conviction for an arrest occurring in the past five years, the period of drivers license suspension is 120 days. You will be eligible for a limited driving permit for those 120 days if you have not had a conviction for an offense that suspends your Georgia drivers license in the past five years.

The limited driving permit costs $25 and is valid for one year, even though the period of suspension is only 120 days. To obtain a limited driving permit you must also have a First DUI Conviction Affidavit issued by the Court or a certified copy of your disposition.

A Limited Driving Permit means you can only use your car for the following:

  • Going to your place of employment or performing the normal duties of your job
  • Receiving medical treatment or obtaining prescription drugs
  • Attending college or school if you are regularly enrolled as a student
  • Attending Addiction or Abuse treatment for alcohol or drugs by organizations recognized by DDS
  • Court ordered driver education, driver implement, or alcohol and drug treatment programs
  • Attending court, reporting to a probation office or officer, or performing community service
  • And Transporting an unlicensed immediate family member for work, medical care, or prescriptions, or to school.

After the 120 day period you can reinstate your license if you pay the $210 reinstatement fee and submit an original certificate of completion of a DDS approved DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program.

Our attorneys and staff are experts in the field of Georgia DUI. If you have a question in regards to your Georgia drivers license suspension or DUI arrest, please call us immediately at 404-581-0999.Addressing a DUI case early is the key to gathering the necessary evidence to present the best defenses in your case.