Options when A Officer Confiscates Your License After a DUI Arrest
You are arrested for DUI in Georgia. You're faced with the decision of submitting to a breath or blood test at the request of a police officer. If you submit to a blood or urine test after arrest, your license will not be suspended that day because it will take some time for the blood to be sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and analyzed. If you submit to a breath test and the results are .08 or higher (.04 for commercial drivers in commercial vehicles, .02 for under 21 drivers), you will face an administrative suspension of 30 days WITH a limited permit. For full reinstatement after those 30 days, you must take an approved DUI Risk Reduction course and pay a $210 reinstatement fee. You can still challenge the suspension with the options below.
If you have a DUI conviction in the previous 5 years, you're facing an 18 month suspension with NO limited permit.
If you refuse to submit to a breath test, the consequences for your license are much more severe. You will face a one year suspension with NO permit if you do nothing. To address that issue, you have 2 options:
1. Request a hearing challenging the suspension.
You have 30 calendar days after your arrest to request a hearing, which must be done by certified mail and a $150 fee paid to Department of Driver Services. This will result in a civil hearing scheduled in a different court than your DUI case. It will be with the Office of State Administrative Hearings. If the arresting officer fails to appear, the license suspension will be dismissed. If he/she does appear, you can have a hearing to challenge the suspension. These are difficult to win under the law.
You can also try to negotiate a resolution with the arresting officer, who represents DDS as the complaintant. Typically, this negotiation involves agreeing to plead guilty to DUI (and/or Reckless Driving) at arraignment in criminal court (on a different date) in exchange for the officer withdrawing the 1 year suspension. Pleading guilty to DUI still involves a license suspension, but for a first in 5 years, it is only for 120 days WITH a limited driving permit. If you change your mind and decide to plead not guilty to the DUI, the officer is well within his/her right to initiate the 1 year suspension for your violating your agreement to plead guilty.
If you have an out of state license, you need to figure out if an administrative license suspension in Georgia reported to your home state will result in a suspension under your home state's law.
If you end up with a hard one year suspension, that will end if the DUI case itself is reduced or dismissed during that 1 year span.
2. Get an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle.
You have 30 days to get the ignition interlock permit AND install the ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle. The permit would be obtained from DDS and the ignition interlock device would be installed by an approved private company. To be eligible, you must be 21 or older and have to have a vehicle owned by you and registered in Georgia. You cannot have a DUI conviction in the previous 5 years. If you have a commercial license, you must downgrade to a class C license to do this. You must keep the ignition interlock device on the vehicle for one year and pay for it, even if the DUI case is reduced or dismissed during that time. You waive your right to challenge the license suspension if you choose this option. Having an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle, however, can be helpful in resolving your DUI case favorably in criminal court. Finally, this option is not available to out of state drivers.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Georgia, feel free to contact Kyle Jarzmik.