Georgia ALS Hearings
What You Need to Know
If an officer arrests you for driving under the influence in Georgia, in addition to DUI criminal penalties, you also risk losing your driving privileges through an automatic administrative process to suspend your license.
Namely, this process applies to your DUI case if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is higher than the legal limit, or if you refused to take a chemical test at the time of your arrest. The police officer will serve you with form DS-1205. What you do next is crucial to your case. Here is what you need to know:
You Have 10 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 request a hearing or 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 10 business 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 31st day following your arrest without a hearing. In addition to petitioning for a hearing, you are also required to pay a $150 filing fee.
The good news is that your time is calculated based upon business days and not calendar days. However, two weeks can go by quickly, and if not careful other occurrences in your life could cause you to lose your sense of urgency. Accordingly, it is best to appeal for an administrative hearing as soon as possible – preferably on the date of arrest.
What Happens During the ALS Hearing?
Hearing dates usually occur 30-60 days from your arrest. The hearing is scheduled before an administrative judge, and you can continue to drive pending a decision.
The administrative hearing is not a criminal proceeding, and judges 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?
Like any other hearing, you have the right to legal representation. Additionally, you can cross-examine the police officer and any other state witnesses, and may call individuals to testify on your behalf.
However, this administrative hearing is governed by civil rules of evidence, and the burden of proof is not beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, it is based on the preponderance of evidence (a much lower burden than in the criminal court). After the hearing ends, you will receive a formal decision within five working days.
What Are the Possible Outcomes?
If the judge determines that one of the above-stated factors weren't met, then an order is made to reverse the suspension order, and the court will remove the administrative suspension action from your record. 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.
On the other hand, if the court finds that the case met each of the statutory factors mentioned above, then the administrative judge will issue an order to impose the suspension. Since there is a low burden of proof at the administrative hearing, there is a high possibility that the court will uphold the suspension. However, if there was an error in the proceeding and the ruling, you have the right to appeal.
The outcome of your administrative license suspension hearing is critical. Often offenders make the mistake of thinking they can handle it on their own. However, the hearing is a legal proceeding with complex rules and laws, so you stand a better chance of success with an experienced DUI lawyer on your side.
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 10 days of your arrest and hiring a 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.