Written by attorney Patrick Applegate Kunes

Will a GA DUI automatically suspend my driver's license?

If you are arrested for DUI and you blow over the legal limit or refuse to provide a sample for the state blood, breath, or urine test your license will be suspended on the 31st day after your arrest. The arresting officer is supposed to take your license and turn in a Department of Public Safety (DPS) Form 1205 to start the suspension. If you hold an out of state license Georgia can't suspend your license, but it can suspend your privilege to drive in Georgia. This action will be reported to your home state, and they may suspend your license through reciprocity if they are members of the Drivers License Compact or Nonresident Violator Compact.

However, you have the right to request an Administrative License Suspension (ALS) Hearing before the State takes your right to drive away. You must send a written request along with a $150 filing fee to the Department of Driver Services within 10 business days. You will then be scheduled a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that will occur before any criminal hearings on the underlying DUI charge.

If the officer fails to show the ALJ will rescind the suspension and you will keep your license pending the outcome of the criminal case. If the officer does show, you will likely loose the hearing unless there was no legitimate reason for the original detention, no probable cause to arrest, the Georgia Implied Consent notice was improperly read, or there was no over the limit BAC test or refusal. Even if you loose the ALS hearing, your attorney will have gotten an invaluable opportunity to get sworn testimony from the arresting officer before any criminal hearing occurs.

This administrative suspension will be lifted if you are found not guilty on the DUI charge, or if you get the charge reduced to reckless driving, public intoxication, or any other non-DUI disposition. Hiring an attorney who specializes in DUI cases will give you the best chance at prevailing on the criminal charges.

Be wary of an attorney who advises you to plead guilty to the DUI in order to have the officer rescind the ALS suspension. While it may save your license for a moment, once you plead guilty to DUI, you will loose your license for a minimum of 6-12 months. While the ALS suspension would be a 12 months if you refused the State's test (with no limited permit for school or work), there may be defenses available that would lift that suspension completely upon getting the case thrown out, or getting a reduction. Make sure you hire a knowledgeable attorney who is known as a fighter, and not a "plea attorney."

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