Georgia ALS Hearings
What You Need to Know
If you have been arrested for DUI in Georgia, it is important to understand that the arresting officer has likely initiated two separate cases against you. In addition to the criminal charges, the officer likely also filed a DDS-1205 form with the Department of Driver Services. The DDS-1205 form initiates a separate civil action whereby the Department of Driver Services seeks to administratively suspend your driver’s license for either refusing to submit to state-administered chemical testing or for submitting to a chemical test that indicates your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is higher than the legal limit. This administrative license suspension is independent of the license suspension that would come with a conviction on the DUI charge, but it is easily avoidable as long as you hire an experienced DUI lawyer to help you with the appeal process. Here is what you need to know:
You Have 30 Days to Act Before Losing Your License
After being served with a notice of administrative license suspension (ALS), you have limited time to protect your driving privileges. It is important to appeal the suspension by requesting a hearing within 30 days of the date of arrest. It is best to hire a DUI attorney in Georgia immediately following your DUI charges.
You must also make a request for a hearing to prevent an automatic suspension of your license within 30 days of your arrest. Failure to submit your request within the allotted time will result in the suspension of your driver's license on the 45th day following your arrest without a hearing.
What Happens During the ALS Hearing?
ALS Appeal hearings are usually scheduled two to four weeks after the ALS Appeal is filed with the Department of Driver Services. The administrative hearing is not a criminal proceeding, and the administrative law judges who preside over ALS Appeals are bound by strict statutory laws that do not include mitigating factors. The following factors may limit the judge in arriving at a decision:
- Reasonable Grounds - Did the police officer have reasonable grounds to believe that you were driving under the influence and that the arrest was lawful?
- Automobile Accident - Were you involved in a vehicle accident relating to your intoxication?
- Implied Consent - Did the police officer inform you of your implied consent rights and the consequences of refusing to take the chemical testing upon arrest?
- Blood Alcohol Testing - Did you refuse chemical testing, or was your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit?
- Proper Test Administration - Did the officer administer the test correctly?
It is important to note that ALS Appeals are by the rules of civil procedure, and as such, the burden of proof is not the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases. Instead, the burden of proof is the “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which a much lower burden. After the hearing ends, you will receive a formal decision within five working days.
What Are the Possible Outcomes?
ALS Appeals are generally resolved in one of three ways. First, it is possible that the officer may not appear at the ALS hearing. Because the ALS hearings are civil matters and not criminal matters, they a lower priority to the officers. If an officer is subpoenaed to appear in court for a criminal matter at the same time the officer is scheduled to appear at an ALS hearing, the officer will usually just skip the ALS hearing. Second, the officer will often agree to withdraw the administrative suspension and allow the outcome of the criminal case to determine whether the client’s license is suspended. Finally, if the officer shows up to the hearing and refuses to withdraw the administrative suspension, it may be necessary to proceed with the hearing. Most ALS hearings are very brief, focusing primarily on whether the officer followed proper protocol in making the arrest and administering the chemical test. If the judge determines that protocol was not properly followed, the judge will issue an order reversing the administrative license suspension. However, a victory at the administrative license suspension hearing is not an automatic victory in criminal court. You must still answer to the DUI criminal charges, and your license could still be suspended upon conviction of DUI.
Hire an Experienced Georgia DUI Lawyer
A suspension of your license can mean significant hardship for you and your family. By taking decisive action within 30 days of your arrest and hiring a Georgia DUI lawyer, you can preserve your driving privileges.
At The Dickerson Firm, our mission is to provide aggressive legal representation to those accused of DUI in the Metro Atlanta area. We have law offices in Atlanta, Marietta, and Kennesaw. Our team of attorneys includes former prosecutors with a wealth of experience in the criminal judicial system. If you or a loved one is facing DUI charges, schedule a consultation today.