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Georgia DDS Issues Clarification on License Expiration, Suspension, and Permits Due to Coronavirus Office Closures

Georgia Department of Driver Services closed its Customer Service Centers in March 2020 to protect its employees and the public.  DDS continues operations which are not customer facing.  For customers with expiring licences or driving privileges in dispute or new residents of the state, this poses some difficulties, since nothing could be done to change the status of those licenses or permits.

The Legal Department issued a clarification memorandum on March 30, 2020.

Offices will reopen on April 1, 2020, in a very limited capacity.  Those offices will only be dealing with commercial drivers who have scheduled appointments.  

So, where does that leave people who are not commercial drivers:

Expiring Licenses and Identification Cards

Georgia driver's license and identification card holders with expiration dates from March 14, 2020, through June 30, 2020, will receive a 120 day extension.  New credentials will be mailed to effected persons.  These will be mailed to the address shown on the cards.  If a holder's address has changed, they are encouraged to go online, download the DDS 2 Go app, create an online account, log in and update their address.  The app will also let the person verify any actions taken with regard to their account.

This action involves identification cards, commerical and non-commercial licenses, limited permits, driving permits and licenses and IDs validly held by non-citizens (such as legal permanent residents).

Medical certifications and CDL endorsements will be extended along with CDL licenses.

FTA Extensions

Courts can initiate failure to appear suspensions through DDS.  Those suspensions will be delayed for an additional 60 days.  Again, the mobile apps are going to be the best way to address status of those issues.  

If the issue which produced the FTA can be addressed without going to the court offices, you should investigate whether it can be resolved over the phone.

ALS Hearings

The Office of State Administrative Hearings, which ordinarily conducts hearings on administrative license suspensions is not conducting such hearings currently.  There is normally a 45 day permit issued at the time of a DUI arrest involving (1) a state breath test result of 0.08 grams or more or (2) a refusal to submit to the state blood, breath or urine test requested by the officer.

Requests for hearings can proceed as normal, but the deadline for a request for hearing (normally 30 days) has been extended to 120 days from the date of the 1205/arrest date.

The 45 day permit for such cases issued at the time of arrest will be a 90 day permit instead.

Requests for Ignition Interlock Permits

Some drivers facing an ALS may be able to elect to install an ignition interlock and apply for an ignition interlock limited driving permit in order to avoid an administrative license suspension.

Normally, the installation and application for permit have to be completed within 30 days of the 1205 form (ordinarily the same as the arrest date).  Such persons will be able to proceed in a timely fashion after Customer Services Centers re-open to the public.  Such applications will be considered beyond the 30 day deadline.

New Georgia Residents

New Georgia residents should continue to drive on their existing credentials.  Law enforcement and courts should not take punitive action for persons unable to obtain a new Georgia license.  Such persons should act within a reasonable time after the Customer Service Centers re-open to secure a Georgia license.

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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