Have you been charged with DUI?
There are several things all DUI defendants should be aware of. The following information is provided in an attempt to educate DUI defendants about their rights in order to ensure they are preserved.
Administrative License Suspension (ALS)
If you have been charged with DUI, you may have received a Form 1205 with the heading "GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF DRIVER SERVICES." If you did not receive a Form 1205 you may still receive one at a later date. Regardless, you should be aware of the following and take proactive measures to ensure that your privilege to drive in the state of Georgia is preserved.
There is a break about 2/3 of the way down on Form 1205 with the heading "SERVICE OF REPORT AND NOTICE OF LICENSE SUSPENSION." This is the one and only notice you will receive of the State's intention to suspend your license. As indicated on the Form 1205, this is your temporary driving permit for the next 45 days.
It is likely that if you were advised of the 30 day window to request a hearing, you may not have understood the ramifications. First and foremost, you MUST follow the guidelines to submit your request for a hearing within the 30 day period. If you don't, your license WILL be suspended. It is in your best interest seek the assistance of a DUI attorney before this period runs out, so DO NOT DELAY. Even if I have not yet been hired, I offer clients charged with DUI the necessary forms to request a hearing. This will at least extend the time before your license is suspended and preserve your right to a hearing.
Most judges will grant a one time continuance if you haven't hired an attorney by the time your hearing is scheduled to occur, but there are exceptions. If hired prior to the hearing, I generally don't require the client to be present, but again, there are exceptions. You have a much better chance of getting the suspension withdrawn or rescinded if you are represented by an attorney. Otherwise, the suspension may go into effect by default if a hearing is NOT requested or if you request one and fail to show up.
This is a separate civil matter pertaining to your license and is apart from your criminal charges. That being said, I charge no additional fee for handling the ALS associated with a DUI charge.
Prior DUI Arrests
If you have been charged with multiple DUIs in the past, you should be aware that most courts will treat prior arrests (even if not convicted) more severely. The license suspension and sentencing provisions associated with subsequent DUI convictions generally become more and more stringent. A fourth DUI conviction is treated as a felony in Georgia. See my page on Felony and Misdemeanor charges for an explanation on the difference between the two.
Charged with Multiple DUI Citations for the Same Event/Arrest
If you received one DUI citation, it is not unusual if you have received two citations for DUI.
A DUI can be charged and proven even without a chemical test of your blood or breath. This is called a "Less Safe" DUI (OCGA § 40-6-391(a)(1) through (4)). The State will attempt to prove that a driver is DUI to the extent that they were less safe to drive by demonstrating the driver's performance on Field Sobriety Testing (FSTs) or through other evidence (the driver's appearance, slurred speech, smell, witness testimony, etc). FSTs are highly susceptible to interpretation. These tests are typically what forms the officer's basis or "probable cause" for an arrest, so a test which is incorrectly administered may give false indications. This is one of the reasons why it is important to the seek counsel of an experienced DUI attorney who will be able to identify errors in the officer's administration of the tests.
The other DUI citation you may have received is often a "per se" DUI. This type of DUI is proven by the State's test of a defendant's blood or breath. Georgia's per se DUI statute requires that the subject's blood alcohol content is over the limit of 0.08 for drivers who are over 21 years of age and 0.02 for drivers who are under 21 years of age or there is any amount of marijuana or controlled substance in their blood or urine (OCGA § 40-6-391(a)(5) and (6).
The prosecutor will likely attempt to prove both if a test was conducted.
License Consequences if Convicted or Plead Guilty to DUI
Should you be found guilty after trial or plead guilty to DUI, you should know that a conviction or plea to DUI based on the driver's alleged consumption of alcohol will result in a 120 day license suspension for the first offense. A plea or conviction based on DUI for drugs will result in a 160 day suspension for the first offense.
If you are the holder of Commercial Drivers License (CDL), your commercial driving privileges will be disqualified for 1 year for the first conviction. A second conviction will result in a permanent (life-time) disqualification.
Call 770-474-9335 for a free consultation.
The above information is current as of this posting on September 30, 2019. Please be aware that Georgia law is subject to change based on new appellate court decisions or changes made by the Georgia legislature. There are an infinite number of scenarios and circumstances that arise from a DUI arrest. I can not, nor have I attempted to account for every or all potential scenarios in this posting and strongly recommend that you talk to an attorney about the particular facts and circumstances of your case at the earliest opportunity.