(Almost Everything You Need to Know About) The Administrative Driver's License Suspension in a DUI Case
An arrest for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) also carries potential administrative/civil consequences against the ability to drive for a person charged with DUI. The civil administrative case is separate from the criminal case. The burden of proof in the civil administrative license suspension case is lower, and the elements of the civil administrative case are not the same as the criminal DUI case. In the civil administrative license suspension case, no fines, jail time, probation, or community service may be imposed, but a lengthy suspension your driver's license may occur as a result of the civil administrative case. Generally, immediately after your arrest for DUI in Georgia, the arresting officer and the Georgia Department of Driver Services will start the civil administrative license suspension process.
How Long Is The Suspension That May Result From an Administrative License Suspension in Connection With a DUI
- For an alleged per se violation - .08 BAC for drivers older than 21 in a non-commercial vehicle, .04 BAC for drivers of a commercial motor vehicle, or .02 BAC for drivers under the age of 21, 30 days after the suspension goes into effect, you can reinstate your license with proof of completion of DUI school and payment of a reinstatement fee of $210.00 ($200.00 by mail).
- The period of suspension increases to 18 months for a second ALS suspension within five years.
- The period of suspension increases to five years for a third within five years - a probationary license may be available after two years.
- In the case of a refusal, the suspension is a "hard" one-year suspension with no limited permit, unless and until a non-DUI disposition is obtained.
Limited Permit for an Administrative Driver's License Suspension
If a person who is administratively suspended has not been convicted of DUI based on an arrest that occurred within five years of the arrest resulting in the suspension (i.e., first DUI in five years), that individual is entitled to a limited permit. This "ALS limited permit" is valid for thirty days, costs $25.00, and entitles the holder of the permit to drive for work-related purposes, to obtain medical care or prescribed drugs, to attend school, or to receive substance abuse treatment.
Preventing the Administrative Driver's License Suspension in Connection With a DUI Case
Our law now provides for the two (2) alternative courses of action if you are facing an administrative license suspension. Here, we provide you with some guidance about what actions you should take in response to an administrative driver's license suspension. Please remember that your circumstances can and will vary and our opinions cannot replace the advice of a DUI attorney that you should hire with regard to your individual case. These opinions do not create an attorney-client relationship.
The suspension of your driving privileges can be prevented by challenging the suspension. To challenge the suspension it is necessary to request an administrative hearing and submit a $150.00 filing fee within 30 days of being served with notice of the suspension. This notice is usually given when the person is arrested. However, the hearing request requirement is not immediately obvious because it is hidden on the reverse side of the "Sworn Report of the Arresting Officer." In cases of blood tests, the notice is occasionally sent to a motorist at the address· the Department has on file (usually the same address that is on your license). The notice resulting from a blood test is sent after the Department receives notification from the police agency that your blood tested over the legal limit.
After the Department receives a request for an administrative hearing, the Department will place the suspension on hold until the scheduled date of the hearing. During this time, you will have the same driving privileges you had before your license was taken. After the Department receives a timely request for an administrative hearing, the Office of State Administrative Hearings should set the date for the administrative hearing to take place within 30 days. Do not be too upset if your hearing is not held with that time frame; after all, you remain "street legal" in the meantime.
It is not always necessary for you to appear at the administrative hearing if your attorney appears on your behalf. If no one appears on the licensee's behalf, the suspension will be upheld, and the suspension will begin as soon as the administrative law judge issues an order. If the arresting officer or the breath testing officer fails to appear, then the suspension is generally set aside for lack of a necessary witness.
If all the parties appear, then the administrative law judge (a lawyer employed by the Office of State Administrative Hearings) will hear the issues and make a determination or ruling (usually within five calendar days), and this ruling will be sent by mail. The issues at the administrative hearing are whether the arresting officer had reasonable grounds to believe the client was driving under the influence, the person was lawfully placed under arrest, the officer properly read the Implied Consent warning, and the driver either refused the state administered test or the test result was at or above the per se limit.
The burden of proof is on the Department, and the standard of proof is the preponderance of the evidence. Preponderance of the evidence means it is more likely than not that the requirements set forth in the preceding paragraph have been met. This is a much lower standard of proof than the criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Unfortunately, there are attorneys who tell their clients not to bother with the administrative hearing because they cannot be won. While these hearings are difficult to win, it is not impossible. We do get many of our clients' licenses back after successfully challenging the suspension. Any attorney who advises you not to request the hearing and challenge the suspension should be avoided at all costs. The administrative hearing is the opportunity to cross-examine the officer under oath to discover the weaknesses or strengths of the government's case against you. Not challenging the suspension and cross-examining the officer at the hearing is the equivalent of not reading the police reports. There is a limited - very limited - category of cases where it may be in the client's best interests to ask the officer to withdraw the administrative suspension in exchange for a guilty plea, but this decision should be made only after all the available evidence regarding the case is reviewed and as a last - not a first - resort. Otherwise, it cannot be emphasized strongly enough that, if you are serious about fighting the case, it is imperative to have this additional opportunity to cross-examine the officer under oath.
Appealing the Denial of Your Appeal From the DUI Administrative License Suspension
If the Office of State Administrative Hearings upholds the suspension after an administrative hearing has been held, a Motion for Reconsideration may be filed within ten days of the final decision, or an appeal may be filed within thirty days from the date of the order upholding the suspension. Said appeal is initiated by filing a petition for judicial review in Fulton County Superior Court or the Superior Court of the licensee's county of residence.
The licensee is not required to post a bond when the appeal is filed or during its pendency. However, the person is not allowed to operate a motor vehicle in violation of any suspension by the Department of Driver Services while the appeal is being considered. In addition, a Superior Court will generally not "stay" a license suspension during the appeal.
Out-of-State Licenses and the DUI Administrative License Suspension Case
If you possess a driver's license from another state, Georgia can only suspend or revoke your privilege to drive in Georgia. Most states - not including Georgia - are a member of the Interstate Driver's License Compact. This compact requires all member states to report driving convictions or departmental actions to the licensee's home state. The home state is the state that issued the licensee's license. Although Georgia is not a member state, our DDS will routinely report adverse actions to other states as required by O.C.G.A. 40- 5-51.
Once the home state is notified, it may take action against your license. If the home state takes action, it will send notice to you at the address the home state has on file. This notice will usually advise you of the home state's action. The notice may or may not have the licensee's appellate rights listed. Once this notice is received, you should immediately contact a lawyer in your license issuing state to explore ways to prevent license suspension.
Each state handles license suspensions differently. If the suspension in Georgia is the result of not successfully challenging the suspension at the administrative level, then the suspension is an administrative suspension. If the suspension in Georgia is based on a conviction for DUI, then the suspension is a conviction suspension. This may be an important distinction because some states will not suspend your license based on an administrative suspension from Georgia. Most states - but not all - will suspend your driver's license if you are convicted of DUI.
For example, some states, such as Kansas or Tennessee, will not suspend your driver's license because they require a DUI conviction before they will suspend a license for an out-of-state DUI. You will not be able to drive in Georgia until the administrative suspension period ends and you complete the reinstatement process. However, you should be able to drive in all states other than Georgia during the period of administrative suspension.