It surprises many people that to learn that their Georgia driver's license (or privilege to drive in Georgia if they are an out-of-state license holder) may be suspended prior to the conclusion of the criminal portion of their DUI case. Yes, generally speaking, when you are arrested for a DUI in Georgia, you will face 2 separate processes: (1) you will face an administrative license suspension that may take place prior to the conclusion of your criminal case, and (2) you will face the criminal DUI penalties, including suspension of your Georgia driver's license or privilege to drive here.
The administrative license suspension case following a DUI arrest in Georgia is started with the arresting officer providing you with a DDS Form 1205. It is common knowledge amongst most Georgia DUI lawyers that the filing of a 10-day letter is an essential 1st step in the defense of a DUI charge in Georgia. That being said, what many people do not understand is what the actual 10-day letter does. The answer to that question is relatively simply. The 10-day letter in Georgia DUI cases is an appeal of the arresting officer's attempt to administratively suspend your driver's license. However, the issues that are and can be litigated at the administrative license suspension case following a Georgia DUI arrest are more complex. The issues that are addressed in the administrative license suspension hearing are stated in O.C.G.A. 40-5-67.1:
(g)(1) A person whose driver's license is suspended or who is disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle pursuant to this Code section shall remit to the department a $150.00 filing fee together with a request, in writing, for a hearing within ten business days from the date of personal notice or receipt of notice sent by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested, or the right to said hearing shall be deemed waived. Within 30 days after receiving a written request for a hearing, the department shall hold a hearing as is provided in Chapter 13 of Title 50, the “Georgia Administrative Procedure Act.” The hearing shall be recorded.
THE SCOPE OF YOUR DUI HEARING SHALL BE LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING ISSUES:
(A)(i) Whether the law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving or in actual physical control of a moving motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and was lawfully placed under arrest for violating Code Section 40-6-391; or
(ii) Whether the person was involved in a motor vehicle accident or collision resulting in serious injury or fatality; and
(B) Whether at the time of the request for the test or tests the officer informed the person of the person's implied consent rights and the consequence of submitting or refusing to submit to such test; and
(C)(i) Whether the person refused the test; or
(ii) Whether a test or tests were administered and the results indicated an alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams or more or, for a person under the age of 21, an alcohol concentration of 0.02 grams or more or, for a person operating or having actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle, an alcohol concentration of 0.04 grams or more; and
(D) Whether the test or tests were properly administered by an individual possessing a valid permit issued by the Division of Forensic Sciences of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on an instrument approved by the Division of Forensic Sciences or a test conducted by the Division of Forensic Sciences, including whether the machine at the time of the test was operated with all its electronic and operating components prescribed by its manufacturer properly attached and in good working order, which shall be required. A copy of the operator's permit showing that the operator has been trained on the particular type of instrument used and one of the original copies of the test results or, where the test is performed by the Division of Forensic Sciences, a copy of the crime lab report shall satisfy the requirements of this subparagraph.
(3) The hearing officer shall, within five calendar days after such hearing, forward a decision to the department to rescind or sustain the driver's license suspension or disqualification. If no hearing is requested within the ten business days specified above, and the failure to request such hearing is due in whole or in part to the reasonably avoidable fault of the person, the right to a hearing shall have been waived. The request for a hearing shall not stay the suspension of the driver's license; provided, however, that if the hearing is timely requested and is not held before the expiration of the temporary permit and the delay is not due in whole or in part to the reasonably avoidable fault of the person, the suspension shall be stayed until such time as the hearing is held and the hearing officer's decision is made.
(4) In the event the person is acquitted of a violation of Code Section 40-6-391 or such charge is initially disposed of other than by a conviction or plea of nolo contendere, then the suspension shall be terminated and deleted from the driver's license record. An accepted plea of nolo contendere shall be entered on the driver's license record and shall be considered and counted as a conviction for purposes of any future violations of Code Section 40-6-391. In the event of an acquittal or other disposition other than by a conviction or plea of nolo contendere, the driver's license restoration fee shall be promptly returned by the department to the licensee.
(h) If the suspension is sustained after such a hearing, the person whose license has been suspended under this Code section shall have a right to file for a judicial review of the department's final decision, as provided for in Chapter 13 of Title 50, the “Georgia Administrative Procedure Act”; while such appeal is pending, the order of the department shall not be stayed.
If the administrative law judge finds that the Department of Driver Services has met its burden as to these issues, you driver's license or privilege to drive in Georgia will be suspended and this may occur prior to the conclusion of your DUI case.
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