A conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) carries significant criminal penalties. Even simply being arrested can carry significant penalties and costs associated with defending yourself in court. While most are aware of the significant criminal penalties associated with a DUI, many do not realize that Georgia includes additional civil penalties which run in parallel to your criminal case. If you have been arrested for DUI in Georgia, your license can be suspended based on the allegation of DUI. Specifically, if you have been arrested for DUI per se, which is operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in excess of prescribed state maximums, you will face a 45-day temporary driver’s license suspension that will go into effect 45 days after your citation for DUI. The administrative per se (APS) hearing held by the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles individuals to challenge their driver’s license suspension.
As the Senior Assistant Solicitor-General, Attorney Phil Pilgrim prosecuted more than 4,000 DUI cases per year. Phil brings this experience to criminal defense where he successfully employs his intricate knowledge of the prosecution’s tactics to defend those who have been accused of DUI. If you have been accused of DUI in Atlanta or Northern Georgia, please contact our office today for a free consultation.
What is the BAC Limit in Georgia?
In the State of Georgia, the following BAC limits apply:
- 0.08 BAC applies to drivers older than 21 years of age while operating a vehicle that is not a commercial vehicle
- 0.04 BAC applies to drivers older than 21 years of age while operating a commercial vehicle
- 0.02 BAC applies to drivers less than 21 years of age
Administrative License Suspension Penalties
The administrative license suspension depends on whether you have any prior DUI-related administrative license suspensions. If you have no prior suspensions within the past 5 years, then you will face a 30-day driver’s license suspension. However, prior suspensions will increase the driver’s license suspension duration. For a second suspension within 5 years, you will face an 18-month driver’s license suspension. For a third suspension within 5 years, you will face a 5-year driver’s license suspension.
Despite a driver’s license suspension, it is still possible to retain restricted driving abilities. Limited driving permits are available to those with an administrative driver’s license suspension. These limited permits allow you to continue to drive for specific purposes during the suspension period, such as commuting for work, commuting for school, and attaining medical and substance abuse treatment.
Civil Court vs Criminal Court
One of the most important aspects regarding the APS is the distinction between the administrative license suspension and criminal charges. At the most basic level, these penalties are enforced under two different court systems: the civil court system and the criminal court system. If you’ve been accused of DUI, then your criminal charges will be heard in a criminal court where you are offered the opportunity to present your case to a jury of your peers. Conversely, an administrative license suspension is heard in civil court where your case is presented to an administrative judge.
In addition to lacking a jury, your administrative license suspension will require a lower burden of proof. In criminal law, the jury must find that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt – the highest burden of proof in the American legal system. However, for the administrative license suspension, the burden of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence, which means “more likely than not.” In both systems, it is the burden of the government to establish that you have committed the alleged acts.
What Happens at the DMV APS Hearing?
The hearing is heard by an administrative law judge who will determine whether your driver’s license should be suspended based on the facts of your case. Your attorney can represent you at the hearing – you are not required to attend the hearing and will not be treated negatively for not attending.
At the hearing, the State will present its case for why your driver’s license should be suspended. The judge will hear the primary issues relating to your arrest and alleged DUI. These issues are:
- Whether the arresting officer had sufficient facts to have a reasonable belief that you were driving under the influence
- Whether you were lawfully placed under arrest
- Whether you were properly read Georgia’s implied consent warning
Following the completion of the hearing, the judge will determine whether license will be suspended and notify the accused, usually within five business days of the hearing.
Is the DMV APS Hearing Final?
No. If the suspension is upheld, then you may file a Motion for Reconsideration within 10 days of the decision. Additionally, you may file an appeal within 30 days. However, once the initial administrative suspension determination is made, the suspension will be effective – appealing the determination will not stay the suspension. Thus, your driver’s license will be effectively suspended until determined otherwise in the reconsideration or appeal.
Atlanta DMV APS Hearings Defense Attorney
At Carter Pilgrim, we have the experience necessary to successfully defend you in an administrative license suspension hearing. Attorney Phil Pilgrim’s prior experience as a DUI prosecutor means he knows how the police and prosecution operate. He understands where they go wrong and what their weak points are. Phil’s experience and dedication to the presumption of innocence has earned him a reputation as one of the best DUI-related criminal defense attorneys in Atlanta. If you are facing an administrative license suspension resulting from allegations of DUI, please contact our office as soon as possible for a free consultation.
The Law Office of Carter Pilgrim is located in Suwanee, GA and serves Gwinnett County, Forsyth County, Cumming, Buford, Lawrenceville, Braselton, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Duluth, Norcross, Hoschton, Jefferson, Commerce, Dawsonville, Gainesville, and other surrounding areas.