When a person is arrested on a DUI charge in Atlanta, Georgia, he or she faces not only the possible criminal penalties of driving under the influence charge but also an administrative hearing that can strip you of your right to drive. The loss of your driver's license can have a severe effect on your ability to maintain a normal life, employment, or even your education.
With the help of an experienced Atlanta DUI attorney, you can take steps to protect your right to drive, and challenge the administrative driver's license suspension. You have the right to defend yourself and your constitutional rights.
Driver's License Suspension in Atlanta, Georgia
When a person has a suspended license it can make his or her life extremely difficult. A driver's license may be suspended for a great number of reasons in Georgia, but very commonly they are suspended as the result of an administrative license suspension stemming for a Georgia DUI charge.
When a person's license is suspended, there is the possibility to appeal the suspension in many cases, so that your right to drive may be given back to you. This will prevent you from having to rely on taxis, friends, or even public transportation to get around.
Because driver's license suspensions can last a while, even up to a year or more, fighting to keep or restore your right to drive is extremely important. You can fight against the suspension with the help of exceptional legal counsel experienced in DUI defense and driver's license restoration.
Ten Days to Act
As of July 1, 2017, the previous 10-day rule is now extended to 30 days. After a DUI arrest, a person only has 30 days in which to appeal the automatic driver's license suspension imposed as part of a DUI arrest. This administrative driver's license suspension is completely separate and apart from any court proceedings or criminal charges for DUI.
To prevent your driver's license from being suspended or revoked, you must file an appeal with the DMV to challenge the suspension within 30 days, along with the proper filing fee and letter.
Automatic Suspension of Your Driver's License
A number of different scenarios can result in your driver's license being automatically taken from you. These include:
- refusing to take a blood or breath test (informed consent law)
- underage driver (under 21) registers 0.02% or higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) during a breath test
- commercial driver registers 0.04% or higher BAC during a breath test
- all other drivers register 0.08% BAC or higher during a breath test
After one of these occurs, a form is filed with the DMV that starts the process of your driver's license suspension. It is up to you to file a request for a hearing to dispute the suspension. If you do not, your driver's license suspension will go forward and there will not be anything else you can do about it.
How to Fight Your Driver's License Suspension
Every case is unique, and there are ways to fight to protect your right to drive. There are certain exceptions that may apply, or law enforcement may have performed their job in a way that violates either the United States or Virginia Constitutions. This could result in a successful challenge of your administrative suspension and could protect your right to drive.
ALS Hearings in Atlanta
To protect your right to drive, you have to file for an administrative license suspension (ALS) hearing within 30 days of your arrest. You may feel hopeless or defeated after an arrest, and think there is no hope to save your license. This could not be further from the case.
Length of Suspension
When considering the length of your driver's license suspension, there are many factors considered. These include whether this is your first offense, or you have had previous offenses. Your license will likely be suspended for a year, but you can apply for a restricted driver's license within one month.
If you refuse to take a breath, blood, or urine test, your driver's license will be taken away for one year, but without the ability to obtain a restricted license or permit. This is called a "hard" suspension.
Factors Considered at the Hearing
There are certain factors that the hearing officer will consider when taking a look at your suspension.
- Whether or not the arresting officer had reasonable grounds to think you were truly under the influence while driving;
- Whether or not you caused an accident resulting in a serious injury or fatality;
- Whether or not you were informed of your implied consent rights or the consequences of refusing to be tested;
- Whether or not you refused the BAC (breath) test;
- Whether or not you BAC test registered at .08% or above if an adult, .02% or above if less than 21 years old, or .04% or above if the holder of a commercial driver's license
- Whether the tests were administered correctly and by a qualified person;
- Whether you knew of your right to an independent BAC test by a qualified person of your own choosing.
These are just some of the factors the hearing officer will consider. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can use these factors to save your driver's license if successful.
Suspension vs. Revocation
A driver's license suspension and a revocation are not the same things. When your driver's license is "revoked" you are no longer allowed to drive. Once the revocation expires, the driver can apply for a new driver's license.
However, a suspension only withdraws your right to drive on a temporary basis. Once it is up, you will not have to apply for an entirely new driver's license.
Consult an Experienced Atlanta DUI Attorney
Understanding how the administrative driver's license suspension process works is critical to protecting your right to drive. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can greatly increase your chances of successfully challenging the administrative suspension and protecting your right to drive.