If you are arrested for DUI in Atlanta you may be facing the Georgia administrative penalty, separate from the criminal proceedings. In Georgia, you license can be suspended if you refused to take the breath test or your breath test shows that your blood alcohol concentration was 0.08 grams percent or more. The ALS penalty can be a 12 month suspension of your driver's license or, for out-of-state drivers, your privilege to drive within the state.
Time is of the essence and it is important to hire a lawyer soon after arrest in order to properly request a hearing and appeal your license suspension. You only have 30 days after arrest to file an appeal to prevent the automatic suspension of your Georgia driver's license. The appeal is commonly referred to as the "30 day letter" and must include certain basic information as well state the grounds for the appeal. The reasons for the appeal will differ based on the circumstances of your arrest.
After requesting the hearing, you will receive notice as to when and where your hearing (commonly referred to as an " Administrative License Suspension Hearing" or "ALS hearing") will be held. It is important to note that this hearing in most cases will be in a different court and heard by a different judge (an Administrative Law Judge or "ALJ") than your criminal DUI case. If the appeal is successful or if the officer does not show up the hearing, there will no suspension of your driver's license or privileges.
The administrative license suspension hearing can affect your case and is vital in building your defense which is why it is crucial to have legal representation in this early stage. A skilled attorney will utilize this hearing to gain vital information about the officer, his or her training, the stop and subsequent arrest that will be essential in defending your case. This invaluable information can later be used at motion hearings and at trial.
If you refused to take the breath test, you are facing a hard 12 month license suspension and you will not be entitled to a limited driving permit. If you did submit to the state test, a DUI lawyer in Atlanta, GA will be able to help you get a limited permit which will allow you to drive to work, school, and to seek medical care and treatment, and your license will be eligible for early reinstatement after 30 days if you attend a Risk Reduction course. This administrative suspension will be credited toward any suspension period imposed in the criminal action.
The penalties can be different if you are a first, second, or third offender, underage drivers or even an out-of state licensee and the strategy in handling an ALS hearing and potential suspension will depend on your circumstances. If your license is suspended after an ALS hearing, even if you refused the state test, that suspension will be lifted if you ultimately win your criminal case and any reinstatement fees which have been paid must be refunded by the Department of Driver Services. A win can be a dismissal, a nolle prosequi, a plea to a reduced charge such as reckless driving, or an acquittal.