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What happens to my driver’s license when I am charged with DUI in Georgia?

If you are charged with DUI, the likelihood is that your driver's license will be taken from you and sent to the Georgia Department of Drivers Services.  Once it arrives there, it is likely to be destroyed.  O.C.G.A. § 40-5-53 requires the agency to do so.   This is true even of licenses not issued by Georgia.  If you are not convicted of the offense or later meet the reinstatement requirements, then a new license or permit will be issued to you.  However, if you have a non-Georgia license, you may have to return to the issuing state to have the new license issued.

But let's slow down and take a closer look at the process.When you are arrested for DUI, what the officer is supposed to do about your license depends on what the officer says happened with the DUI.

A quick review.  In Georgia, the legal limit for under 21 drivers is 0.02, for commercial vehicle drivers is 0.04, and for other drivers is 0.08.  However, even if you take the state's test and blow under the limit, the officer can still charge you with DUI based on his belief that other evidence indicates that you were less safe to drive on account of consumption of alcohol or other substances.

So let's move on to what the officer is supposed to do with your license when he writes that DUI citation.  O.C.G.A. § 40-5-67 directs the officer to take the driver's license of any person, resident or non-resident, charged with a DUI violation.  The default instruction is for it to be attached to the citation that is forwarded to the court that will have initial jurisdiction of the DUI charge.  If the driver refuses the official state test or has a breath test result over the legal limit for the driver's classification, then the license will be attached to the original 1205 form and sent to the Georgia Department of Drivers Services.  The 1205 form includes a 30 day temporary driving permit and notice of the intent to administratively suspend the driver's license.  A copy of the 1205 form must be served on the driver.  It is normally printed on yellow paper but sometimes on  white paper.

If you took a blood or urine test or both and not a breath test, then the officer may serve you with a 1205S form if the test results would support a pre-conviction suspension.

There is a limited time allowed by law to appeal the suspension.  This is the ten day period that you may have heard about elsewhere.  The driver has ten business days to file an appeal and pay the $150 filing fee now required to contest the suspension.

It is almost always in the driver's interest to challenge the proposed suspension of driving privileges.  In some cases, the suspension will be avoided.  In others, it will give your attorney an opportunity to obtain more information about the government's evidence against you in order to defend the driver when the case comes to court.

The pre-conviction suspension can have very severe consequences to your ability to reinstate your license later on.

If the suspension is withdrawn or is not upheld at the administrative hearing then no suspension will go into effect against your driving privileges.

However, if you are later convicted of the DUI offense or another suspension offense, then your license or privileges will be suspended as a consequence of the conviction.

Sean A. Black of Black Law Offices, LLC, in Toccoa, Georgia, is available to assist you in protecting your driving privileges and fighting a DUI charge.  Please contact us as early as possible after a DUI arrest in Georgia.

Sean A. Black

Sean A. Black is a 1992 graduate of the Emory University School of Law. He has been in private practice in Toccoa, Georgia since June 1, 1992.

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