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How to Stop Your GA License From Getting Suspended


By: William C. “Bubba” Head, Atlanta DUI Lawyer and Board-Certified DUI Defense Attorney

Section 1 of 5: From the Arrest Scene to Jail

Following virtually every Georgia DUI arrest, the detained driver is relieved of his or her driver’s license. Under Georgia DUI laws, a person arrested for DUI is informed (by the arresting officer) of “implied consent” rights. Under GA law, this is to be done immediately, after arrest for DUI has occurred.

The confiscation of the license of the DUI driver signifies that the officer has taken the first step of an administrative license suspension (ALS) process that has many twists and turns before it is over. Since American jurisprudence and the Constitution calls for due process of law, you CAN request a hearing within 30 days of your arrest by paying the appeal fee of $150 and following a detailed appeal process. Let our criminal lawyers near me show you how to stop your GA license from getting suspended.

Ignition Interlock Installation

Ignition Interlock Installation

New Ignition Interlock Device Alternative for DUI Refusal

IMPORTANT UPDATE EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2017: Georgia DUI law has been amended to include an ignition interlock device option. Beginning July 1, 2017, you can now elect to have an ignition interlock (IID) installed on your vehicle instead of filing for an appeal of your Georgia driver’s license suspension.

You only have 30 days after your arrest date to apply for an ignition interlock at your local Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) office but talk to an experienced DUI lawyer before taking this option.

Once your permit request is approved, you only have 10 days to then have the device installed at an authorized interlock device installation and monitoring company. If you choose the IID option, you waive your right to pursue the suspension appeal. See more details and exclusions below.

How Does an Ignition Interlock Device Work?

An ignition interlock device will disable the vehicle from starting if it detects the presence of alcohol on the driver’s breath. A driver must blow into a breath collection tube that is connected to the interlock device before the vehicle will start. This IID is connected to your vehicle’s ignition wiring.

The first chart below shows the first 3 steps of the DUI arrest in Georgia, which includes the law enforcement officer orally reading Georgia’s implied consent law “notice.” This is printed on an orange card and carried by Georgia police officers who make traffic stops and DUI arrests.

The last sentence of the implied consent warning asks the driver under arrest, “Will you submit to the state-administered chemical tests of your (designate which tests) under the implied consent law?”

Where the implied consent advisement asks to “designate which tests,” an officer in Georgia is permitted to ask for a single breath, blood or urine test, two tests, or all three types of tests.

In fact, the Georgia Court of Appeals is so eager to see that DUI drivers have to face their implied consent test results in court, where the officer read the informed consent card verbatim — “designate which tests”—that the intermediate court of appeals in Georgia ruled that this was good enough for government work.

As far as a blood test is concerned, however, this is a more invasive implied consent test, so the detained driver must willingly take such a test, and if actual consent is not proven by the police officer, this test can be excluded by the trial judge at a pretrial hearing.

Birchfield vs Supreme CourtActual consent is also needed on the other types of tests, too, but a recent US Supreme Court case, Birchfield v. North Dakota, has flagged warrantless blood tests as the type of test that should only be sought if exigent circumstances for requesting an invasive type of forensic test.

No matter whether the driver TAKES the test or REFUSES the test (or tests) requested, the driver in custody will have his or her driver’s license taken.  The seized license is replaced with a paper, temporary driving permit, referred to in Georgia as the “DDS 1205” or “DDS Form 1205.” This piece of paper very crudely notifies the DUI suspect under arrest that the permit expires in 30 days, and this causes many drivers to erroneously think that nothing needs to be done for a month. WRONG!

Other parts of the DDS 1205 tell the detained motorist that he or she only has 30 days to DELIVER their appeal and $150 check of the pending license suspension to the Georgia DDS OR to take the ignition interlock device alternative, IF ELIGIBLE.

So, within a short time after arresting the accused drunk driver, the officer either obtains the requested state-administered test (of blood, breath or urine) and/or deposits the arrested driver at the jail, for booking. Often, the detained person never reads the paperwork from the DUI arrest until released from jail hours or days later.

The arresting officer completes his or her arrest report and other documents associated with the alleged drunk driving and prepares the DDS 1205 Form to be sent, along with the seized driver’s license to the Georgia Dept of Driver Services.

The DUI arrestee and the officer will not likely talk again or meet each other until the administrative license suspension hearing, but ONLY IF the suspended driver files a timely DDS GA appeal and decides NOT to get an ignition interlock device installed instead of filing an administrative license suspension appeal.

Section 2 of 5: RED ALERT! The First 30 Days After Your DUI Arrest

The arresting officer’s department transmits the DDS 1205 and the seized driver’s license to the Department of Driver Services in Conyers, GA. This is the headquarters of Georgia’s license issuance and license suspension state authority. This filing puts into motion the State’s attempt to TAKE AWAY your driving privileges.

The workers at Georgia DDS have little to no DISCRETION about your driver’s license, because the rules they must follow are statutory mandates, and leave little room for “interpretation.” Do not call, or harass them, for doing their job.

As unfortunate as an oversight might be, the Georgia Department of Driver Services (Georgia’s DMV or DPS, for drivers from other states) WILL NOT be able to save your license if you miss these deadlines and hearings.

So, FOLLOW this closely, or risk having a suspended license for a full year! You need to have the guidance of a skilled DUI defense attorney when facing a DUI in Georgia.

Because anyone arrested for driving under the influence will be stressed and distracted by going to jail, bonding out, retrieving the towed vehicle, and still having to deal with work and family issues, overlooking key deadlines and filing dates are common. Don’t let that happen to you! Hire the best DUI attorney for your case.

A DUI conviction in Georgia is FOREVER. No expunction, no deferred adjudication, no diversion, and no first offender law. If you cannot afford a DUI on your permanent criminal history, call a top DUI attorney for help.

Don’t Confuse the 30-Day Deadline With 45 days – Late Filing Is Useless

Once the seized license and DDS Form 1205 arrive at Georgia DDS, the DDS worker will enter your license suspension into the computer. This act will (for 45 days after your arrest date) show on your record as a pending administrative suspension. On the 46th day (if no appeal or interlock action has been taken WITHIN 30 days of arrest) your license WILL BE SUSPENDED for 12 months.

If you DON’T appeal within 30 days or opt for the new ignition interlock device option, however, you are screwed, as far as being able to drive, after a DUI refusal. Yes, that means that you have a suspended license, but this 45-day window is noted, because — if you DO NOT file an appeal — it delays your total license suspension until the 46th day following the date of your DUI arrest. This is no longer counted as “business days.” These are “calendar” days.

Hardship license 30-day deadline after DUI arrest

If you miss filing and paying for an appeal of your suspension within THIRTY BUSINESS DAYS, or don’t secure an ignition interlock device PERMIT (IIDLP) your driver’s license will show up as “suspended license” on the DDS Georgia computer. Don’t delay in assessing the best attorneys at law firms near me, and retaining legal counsel.

The other option for MANY (but not all) is the DDS Georgia appeal. By filing the DUI administrative license appeal (if this is the path you choose) within the 30-day deadline, you EXTEND your ability to drive in Georgia. This is applicable to both Georgia licensees and out-of-state drivers who are licensed elsewhere.

Because the process to appeal the ALS suspension is very simple, NO ONE should allow this deadline to pass, unless it is done under the advice and counsel of a top-rated Georgia DUI lawyer.

Effective July 1, 2017, some of our clients who have a DUI refusal can elect to forego the license suspension appeal, and instead, pay for the installation and monitoring of an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.

If your 30-day appeal is postmarked a DAY LATE, and you were written up for having refused the breath test, your driver’s license (or your driving privilege, if licensed in another state) will be suspended from the 46th day after arrest until 365 days have passed.  DDS GA will not issue you a work permit for a DUI refusal, or if this ALS suspension is a second DUI within 5 years, even if you took the state implied consent test.

This is what DDS Georgia workers call a “hard” suspension, meaning that you are not eligible for a limited driver’s permit (work permit), not eligible for early reinstatement, and are totally stranded from being able to drive for 12 months.  If you have a Georgia license, this suspended license status will be shown on a national driver’s registry computer, and you would face the serious offense of driving on a suspended license.

Section 3 of 5:  Georgia DDS Sends Appeal to OSAH to Docket

Until your DDS appeal gets sent from the Georgia Department of Driver Services to the Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH) in downtown Atlanta, GA, you have nothing, but your limited driver permit that says it lasts for only 45 days. YOU CANNOT WAIT 45 days! You must appeal within 30 days or take the IIDLP.

If the Georgia DDS appeal is your route to fight, you will be getting (from DDS GA) notice of an extension of your driving privileges in the mail, and this notification should be carried with you, along with the DDS 1205 form and your DUI ticket.  Even before the paper from GA DDS arrives, their computer will indicate that your limited permit has NOT expired, in case another law enforcement officer checks your status on the DDS computer.

Georgia DDS Official Seal

Georgia DDS Official Seal

After the OSAH headquarters receives the administrative notice, the staff at OSAH will determine which of their 14 judges will be assigned to hear your administrative appeal.  These hearings are grouped by LOCATION OF ARREST so that you don’t have too far to travel to the designated courtroom for your administrative license suspension hearing.

Metro Atlanta Counties Have Their Own GA DDS Hearing Dates

The metro Atlanta high-population counties of Fulton County, DeKalb County, and Gwinnett County have their own hearing dates. Also, the Georgia State Patrol is given a separate hearing date in Fulton County, due to the high number of DUI arrests.  Most of the time, your initial hearing date will be 2 to 3 weeks after your mailed notice is received.

For a proper cause or reason, either the officer or the appealing suspended driver can seek a short continuance, under the OSAH Rules.

Many people facing drunken driving charges procrastinate, and do not hire a highly-qualified, experienced  DUI attorney near me immediately after their arrest for driving while intoxicated. This delay often results in disaster, when a vital court date is forgotten or overlooked. While an experienced criminal lawyer who is familiar with all aspects of the DUI process can SAVE this disaster from occurring, he or she cannot UNDO a “default” of the self-represented, accused impaired driver.

Section 4 of 5:  Benefits of the DDS Georgia Appeal in SOME GA DUI Cases

The best DUI lawyers in Georgia will advise their clients (who submitted to the Intoxilyzer 9000test) that the ALS appeal process is preferred over the new ignition interlock option. The GA DDS appeal and scheduled hearing date can be a CRITICAL STAGE of your representation.  The following 3 benefits are just the three most important (of dozens) advantages that your DUI case can gain if you let your criminal defense attorney do his or her job:

  1. You may be able to get the administrative license suspension “rescinded” (dismissed). If the officer fails to show up or is late, you WIN! This keeps you driving and (for DUI lawyers for DUI cases) means that you should always be able to get at least a work permit (limited driving permit) in the DUI criminal case, regardless of the outcome.
  2. You likely can reset the case one time, if the officer shows up for the hearing.  The most common basis is that the video and other criminal case discoveries have not yet been received.  This means that you cannot even try to resolve the criminal case with the prosecutor of the court where the DUI is still pending.  A continuance means you continue to drive, on the letter that was sent by DDS extending your driving privileges.
  3. Your DUI lawyer can try to NEGOTIATE with the arresting officer regarding the resolution of this administrative phase of your DUI case.  A “refused” situation is typically more difficult because the officer knows that most people arrested for DUI in Georgia cannot suffer the 12-month “hard” suspension.  If the officer will not withdraw the administrative license suspension — on some basis — you will be facing the dilemma of fighting the ALS case, and possibly being suspended, or negotiating some “compromise” with the arresting officer that preserves your driving privileges.  This is called “making a deal” which gives up something but also gets you something.

If a hearing occurs, the OSAH judge is supposed to issue a final ruling (final order) within 5 days.  If the judge upholds the suspended driver’s license, based upon the implied consent violation, you are suspended.  This suspension only has jurisdictions for a work permit for arrested drivers who took the state-administered breath alcohol test (or another type of test).

If You Win the DDS Georgia Appeal, How to Get Your License Back

If the judge rules in your favor and reverses the pending license suspension at the GA Department of Driver Services, then THIS aspect of your case (the ADMINISTRATIVE license part) is resolved in your favor, and you can go to a DDS license location, and apply for a replacement driver license.  Be sure that you look at the DDS website to see what types of IDs and documents you need to take with you.

Once the final order is issued, any further legal challenge must be filed quickly, and that action is an appeal under OCGA 40-5-66 to the Superior Court.  This can be in the Superior Court of the county where the accused driver resides, or it can be in the Fulton County Superior Court, in Atlanta, GA.

Georgia DDS License Reinstatement

Very few Atlanta attorneys have ever filed, argued, or won an administrative license case, or appeal to a Superior Court.  Ask the potential candidates for being your drunk driving lawyer how many Superior Court appeals of DUI license suspension decisions they have won.

Section 5 of 5:  NO License, DDS GA Appeal, Interlock Limited Permit?

The conclusion of the DUI administrative license process can take up to six months, in rare cases, and this is until the administrative law judge has issued his or her final order. The administrative license appeal to a Superior Court would add several more months to the process.

However, the median time for resolution of the ALS hearing process is around 75 days, because case resets are common when you are represented by a top Georgia DUI attorney.

Administrative License SuspensionOnce the ALS aspect of your DUI case is finalized, you will find yourself in one of three distinct positions, insofar as your driver’s license is concerned:

  1. If the license suspension is RESCINDED, your full driver’s license will be available to you again.  The best scenario is when you WIN the administrative license appeal, and this is a “no strings” attached victory.  Some ALS rescissions, however, are negotiated by your Georgia DUI lawyer, such that you avoid the 12-month “hard” suspension by agreeing to enter a plea of guilty to DUI, once your case comes up on the criminal calendar. This “deal” is one that is always the personal choice of the person facing the DUI charges, because he or she must either find an alternative means of transportation or consider how a 12-month suspension would impact the accused citizen’s life, family and employment. If you opt to fight the refusal, and not make a deal, then your criminal defense lawyer will likely file a speedy trial demand, since winning the case at trial, or securing a reduction (e.g., getting the DUI reduced to reckless driving in GA) will reinstate your driver’s license in GA.
  2. For any driver who loses the ALS hearing or a “refusal,” his or her GA license (or the privilege to drive anywhere in Georgia) will be suspended for 12 full months.  Additionally, any drivers who took the implied consent test, but had a prior DUI conviction or prior administrative license suspension within the past 5 years (date-of-arrest to date-of-arrest), cannot get a “work permit,” as can a driver described in the previous scenario.  Again, however, getting the DUI case reduced, dismissed or being acquitted at trial will allow you to follow the steps required at GA DDS for reinstatement. This “opportunity”, under Georgia DUI laws, to salvage as much of the twelve-month license suspension as possible, by winning, is one of the strongest factors in hiring the best DUI lawyer in Georgia, to represent you.
  3. For any driver who is not described in the previous paragraph, who submitted to the police officer’s requested breath test, blood test or urine test, and then loses the administrative license suspension hearing, GA law provides for DDS GA to immediately issue a limited permit (work permit) to drive for many purposes. The exact wording of that GA DDS rule are shown below, but these restrictions (for a first DUI offense in 5 years) are only in place for 120 days, so long as the driver successfully completes the DUI school (risk reduction program that lasts for 20 hours) and pays the DDS Georgia reinstatement fee of $210 as a “walk-in” customer, or $200 by mailing in your money order to reinstate your full driving privileges.

For anyone with a first-offense DUI “work permit,” the following guidelines are strictly enforced. Under no circumstances do you want ANY traffic ticket to be reported to DDS, or this permit will be canceled! So, follow the rules and (if you get ANY traffic citation) immediately contact your DUI lawyer in Georgia to do whatever is necessary to not have that new uniform traffic citation get recorded on your DDS driving history:

Restrictions on a limited driving permit (work permit) for first offenders:

  1. Travel to and from work, or performing the normal duties of his or her occupation;
  2. Travel to and from school;
  3. Travel to and from medical care or obtaining prescriptions;
  4. Travel to and from substance abuse treatment;
  5. Travel to and from driver education, driver improvement, DUI Drug or Alcohol Use Risk Reduction, or similar programs when ordered to do so by the Court that entered the conviction that resulted in the driver’s license suspension that is the basis of the limited driving permit or probationary license;
  6. Travel to attend court, reporting to a probation office or officer, performing community service; or
  7. Transporting an immediate family member who does not hold a valid driver’s license for work, medical care, picking up prescriptions, or getting to school.

This Article Highlights the Value of Hiring a Georgia DUI Specialist

Having now seen the complicated, convoluted, and treacherous pitfalls that exist during the administrative hearing phase of your DUI case, you can better appreciate the importance of an experienced drunk-driving lawyer assisting you.  Losing the right to drive is a major blow to any person’s driving under the influence case, so being able to navigate the path of the first 60 days to 180 days after an arrest is critical.

Your Georgia DUI attorney will also tell you about the new DUI ALS law that went into effect on July 1, 2017. As amended, the new law states that a citizen can choose not to file a license suspension appeal, but instead can elect to have an ignition interlock device installed on his or her vehicle within 30 days of their arrest. The new law has the following stipulations:

  1. Within 30 calendar days of your arrest, you must go to the Georgia DDS to apply for an ignition interlock permit. If granted, you only have 10 days to get the device installed. The interlock must remain on your vehicle for at least 120 days if you agreed to take a breath, blood, or urine test after you were handcuffed. If you REFUSED chemical testing, the interlock must be on your vehicle for 12 months and cannot be removed for any reason, even if you win your case or the DUI charge is reduced to a lesser charge.
  2. The IID option is NOT available to drivers under 21 years of age, CDL commercial license holders (for use in driving a CMV), anyone with at least one DUI conviction in the past 5 years from ANY state, and any out-of-state license holders (your driver’s license is from another state).
  3. If you do nothing (don’t file an appeal or request an IID) within 30 calendar days, your Georgia license will be suspended for 120 days, starting the 46th day after your arrest date, if you agreed to take a chemical test. You will also be eligible for a temporary restricted permit. If you REFUSED the chemical test, your driving privileges will be suspended for 12 months, and you won’t be eligible for a temporary restricted permit.
  4. During the license suspension, a Georgia driver’s license holder can get a restricted license and reinstate their driver’s license after 30 days, as long as they attend DUI School and pay a $210 reinstatement fee (walk-in) or $200 if done by mail.

Georgia drunk driving book author and veteran DUI lawyer of more than 41 years, William C. Head, has graphically laid out the license suspension and the ALS appeal process in this article. He and his two Super Lawyers partners are DUI specialists and are thoroughly familiar with the July 2017 change in Georgia DUI Laws.

Like most things in life, in hiring a criminal defense attorney, experience matters. Therefore, you need to investigate and compare DUI lawyers near me and invest time and energy in reviewing legal industry credentials, before locating the best DUI attorney in Georgia for your drunk driving case.

Call DUI defense attorney Bubba Head now at (404) 567-5515 so he has time to save your driver’s license before it is too late. Mr. Head’s office answers the phone 24 hours a day, and you will be able to talk with an Atlanta DUI lawyer right away.

Additional Resources

  • Follow this link for the Georgia DDS Ignition Interlock Device Limited Permit Customer Information Sheet based upon HB205 (2016) which became effective on July 1, 2017.
  • Reinstatement requirements: Contact DDS Customer Service at 678-413-8400 or access DDA GA online.
  • Check the status of a Georgia driver’s license: Call 404-657-9300 or get online via this DDS Georgia link. Inquiries regarding the receipt of an Implied Consent appeal or ALS hearing requests will be forwarded to the appropriate department for response.
  • Location of a Georgia Department of Driver Services Near Me
  • Refund of the filing fee for the OSAH hearing of a DDS administrative license suspension appeal that was not held: Fax the form to 678-413-8450.
  • Ignition interlock waivers: Fax to 770-918-6255.
  • Implied Consent/ALS Withdrawals of Sworn Report: Fax to 678-413-8450.
  • Reinstatement documents should be faxed to 770-918-6255.
  • OSAH Final Decisions: Fax 678-413-8450.
  • Court releases (DS-912) for FTAs: Fax to 770-918-6254.
  • Reschedule an ALS hearing: Contact OSAH at 404-657-2800.
  • Accountability Court Orders: Fax to 770-918-6261
©2017 William C. Head, Atlanta, GA. All rights reserved, including “look and feel.”

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5600 Roswell Rd
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