Many DUI arrestees are confused about the fact that their DUI arrest triggered two separate legal actions against them. One is administrative, and one is CRIMINAL. After your DUI arrest, what needs to be addressed first is the administrative license suspension. The consequences of an administrative action against you for DUI refusal is license suspension for one full year, but no further fine or jail time will follow this refusal to be tested.
Once arrested for DUI in Georgia, the arresting officer will immediately read important information from a printed orange card which contains the Georgia implied consent advisement. This is NOT a Miranda warning, which so many DUI drivers expect to hear, once arrested.
The purpose of a Georgia implied consent is to WARN YOU that if you refuse to allow the police to give you breath tests [at the jail or a police precinct] on a breathalyzer called the Intoxilyzer 9000, or go to a hospital and allow police to collect a sample of your blood or your urine (or possibly BOTH) to determine your blood alcohol content or drug content within your blood, then harsh driver’s license consequences will follow.
Because the prosecutor has an easier time getting a DUI conviction when your alcohol level is over the legal limit, the Georgia legislature has authorized this coerced extraction of “bodily contents” (blood, breath or urine). Refusal to allow testing on the OFFICIAL breath, blood or urine test AFTER YOU ARE ARRESTED can mean up to a full year of not being allowed to drive in Georgia.
Georgia implied consent laws carry harsh administrative penalties (not CRIMINAL) as far as loss of your driving privileges. However, Atlanta DUI attorney Bubba Head advises that you pay the $150 filing fee and send this with a written appeal of your ALS suspension to Georgia DDS. This permits a hearing before a Judge (not the same judge as in your criminal case) of the proposed ALS suspension. This MUST be filed within 10 business days.
By making this timely appeal, you extend your right to drive and possibly can have the administrative sanctions on your driving privileges lifted (dismissed), as part of your ALS appeal to DDS Georgia. Any appeal letter MUST be sent by a method of CONFIRMED DELIVERY. This can be U.S. postal service mail, by private courier (FedEX, UPS, etc.) or by hand delivery at DDS headquarters in Conyers, GA. If hand delivery, obtain a receipt from the clerk, showing the receipt of the $150 and the date of delivery. Any delivery option by U.S. mail or private courier must be POSTMARKED (or stamped) on or before the 10th business day to be properly and timely filed.
If you took the State-administered test (or tests) you can also face an administrative driver’s license suspension, but not a TOTAL loss of driving privileges as with the DUI refusal. Depending on your prior DUI arrest history, you may be able to get an immediate work permit. To appeal this type of ALS case, you still need to pay the $150 and file the ALS appeal letter within 10 business days. Any breath, blood test or urine test results may be subject to being THROWN out of court at a pre-trial motion, if you hire one of the best DUI lawyers in Georgia to handle your DUI case.
Be aware that since 2006, in Georgia, if you refuse to submit to implied consent testing, an officer CAN seek a search warrant for your blood or urine, and forcibly collect this BAC evidence in a garden-variety DUI arrest (meaning no accident with injury or death). Judges can hear the officer’s sworn affidavit and issue the warrant electronically. Recent cases from the United States Supreme Court (McNeely) and Georgia Supreme Court (Williams) have made certain types of legal challenges to coerced implied consent tests possible under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution possible.
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