In Georgia, the law allows officers to take a driver’s license in a number of circumstances. If the person blew over a 0.08 on a regular DUI, if they blew over a 0.02 and are under 21 years of age if they blew over a 0.04 and they are in a commercial vehicle, or if they refused the test altogether, then the officer can immediately take the driver’s license. That does not immediately revoke the driving privileges, but it does set in motion a timetable that is very important and can lead to license suspension if affirmative action isn’t taken by the person who was arrested. As a practical matter (at least in Georgia and the jurisdictions in which we practice), the officers will usually only take a person’s license in the event of a refusal or if the person was a complete jerk to the officer. The officers view it as a punishment. If you cooperate with them and provide a breath sample, and if you are not hitting them, spitting on them, or cursing at them, then they usually won’t confiscate the license.
On July 1st, 2017, Georgia law changed so that instead of having only 10 days to appeal a suspension, you now have a full 30 calendar days to make a decision. In addition, you now have the option of applying for an ignition interlock limited permit. This means that if you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, it allows you to keep driving for certain purposes (such as work, school, probation, courts, medical purposes, etc.), which are approved by the Department of Driver Services (DDS). Your other option is to proceed with the appeals process to challenge the requested suspension. If you choose this option, you will be sent to an administrative law judge for a hearing that is separate from the criminal court date on the DUI charge.
If you miss the 30-day deadline and you don’t complete either option, then you get a one-year hard suspension if you refused to take the breath test; a hard suspension means that you are ineligible for a limited permit or work permit, and you simply cannot drive a car for 365 days. If you took the breath test and blew over the limit, then your license is suspended for 30 days, but is eligible for a limited work permit and can be reinstated after the 30-day suspension upon completion of a Risk Reduction Course (DUI School) and payment of a reinstatement fee.
How Can A Breath Or Blood Test Refusal Impact A DUI Case?
With the change in the law and the fact that you can actually keep driving with the ignition interlock permit, we generally advise people against taking the breath test and blood test because it makes the prosecution’s case much more difficult to prove. In addition, it gives us a better argument for either dismissing the DUI or reducing it to something that won’t suspend the license. Right after refusing a breath or a blood test, the cop will just take you to jail and book you in. He may give you the license suspension form, but in a couple of jurisdictions the officer will actually go to the judge, get a search warrant for your blood, hold you down and forcibly do a blood draw. In that case, your license is suspended because you refused the test, and they also get your blood results as a result of the search warrant being executed on you.
What Is The Ignition Interlock Device? Who Is Required To Have It Installed In Their Vehicle?
The ignition interlock device is basically a machine that goes into your car. There are many private installers who install and service them. It is required in Georgia on a second DUI conviction, but it’s not required on a first DUI conviction. The device itself goes into your car, and you get a specialized license that indicates that you must have the device installed and activated in any car that you drive. In order to start the car, you have to blow into the device. If the device doesn’t detect any alcohol, then it will let you start the car. If the device detects alcohol, then it will give you an error message, will prevent the car from starting, and will also report the positive alcohol reading to the servicing provider. In Georgia, ignition interlock devices are not cheap. It costs $25 for the driving permit, $75 for the installation fee, $75 for the monthly monitoring fees, $75 for the removal fee, and $100 for the license reinstatement fee. So, all in all, you are looking at $500 to $1000 just for the device. However, it is now an option for a first time DUI arrestee that refuses the chemical test, and it will allow a person to keep driving, which for many people means not losing their job.
What Factors Can Enhance Or Aggravate A DUI Charge In Georgia?
As a matter of law, the only enhancements in Georgia for sentences on a DUI charge are prior DUIs. A second DUI has different penalties than a first DUI, and a third DUI has different penalties than a second DUI. A fourth DUI offense is a felony. So, a fourth DUI is much more painful to receive than any of the first three. As a practical matter, the prosecutor and the judge will look at certain factors, including whether or not there was a wreck, whether or not there were any people injured, what the blood or breath alcohol concentration was, the behavior of the driver, and the circumstances in which the driver was found (i.e. were they passed out in their car in the middle of an intersection?). Although these things are not legally aggravating factors or enhancements to a DUI charge, the judge will consider them nonetheless.
For more information on Driver’s License Consequences Of DUI, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (678) 726-5400 today.