In most cases, you have 30 days after a DUI to request an Administrative hearing. Though this time frame has been expanded during COVID-19, I advise all my clients to make their request within 30 days just to be safe. The consequences for missing this deadline are serious: if you do not request a hearing within 30 days, your license is going to be suspended. Therefore, I would not advise my clients to rely on temporary extensions unless absolutely necessary, and to file within 30 days instead.
What Happens If I Miss the Deadline to File for my License Hearing?
If you miss the deadline to file for your Administrative hearing, your license will be suspended. There is no real appeal process to that decision. This is why it is so important to call an attorney as soon as possible after getting your DUI.
Who decides my DDS Hearing/Administrative hearing?
Typically, if you have a competent attorney, you will not wind up getting to the hearing stage. Rather, your attorney will make a deal with the officers or the lawyers for the Department of Public Safety to plead to a lesser charge and keep your driver’s license.
If you do get to the hearing stage, it will be a simple probable cause hearing, which has a very low bar of evidence. This hearing would be decided by an administrative law judge. Administrative law judges do not work for the criminal court system and are not associated with jury trials. Their job is to simply to decide on Administrative hearings.
If my BAC Level was Below 0.08, Why Wouldn’t the DDS Automatically Dismiss my Case?
Even if you had a blood alcohol concentration of under the legal limit (or 0.08%), you can still be convicted of a DUI, and the DDS can still suspend your driver’s license for a year. This is because Georgia has a DUI statute that is bifurcated. That means that there are two DUI statutes that are both the same charge and carry the same punishments, but they are two different things, one of which is considered a stronger case.
The first statute of a DUI is the U-BAL, or unlawful blood alcohol level. A DUI U-BAL means that there is evidence which proves that you were driving while over the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration. The second statute of a DUI is driving impaired because of alcohol.
In a case where you had a BAC under the legal limit (i.e., below 0.08%), you could still be found guilty of a DUI if the District Attorney’s Office can prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that you were an impaired driver because of alcohol. That is all the statute requires. It does not require that you be over the legal limit.
It is much more difficult to prove before a jury that you were impaired by alcohol while driving with blood alcohol levels under the legal limit. However, if they convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving while impaired by alcohol, it does not matter if your blood alcohol level was under the legal limit, and you can still be found guilty of a DUI. This is true both in the criminal court and at your Administrative hearing.
Is it Even Possible to Win at my DDS Hearing? If I do Win, Will it Help my Criminal Case?
It is very unlikely that you will win a DDS hearing. It is far more beneficial to have an attorney with the relationships and the skills necessary to stop your driver’s license being suspended. Your attorney can do this by negotiating with the officers or the lawyer for the Public Department of Safety before you even get to an Administrative hearing.
In the highly unlikely event that you won your DDS, it would have no effect on your DUI case. It would simply prevent your license from being suspended.
If I Refused a Breath or Blood Test, How Will That Impact my DDS Hearing?
If you refuse a breath or blood test, and you wind up having an administrative hearing, your refusal may affect how long your license is suspended.
If you go to a DDS hearing and they find that there was probable cause for your arrest, then you will have your driver’s license suspended. This is almost always the finding of DDS hearings. How long the suspension lasts will be determined by whether you refused testing and whether you were over the legal limit.
According to Georgia Law, if you refused the testing, you will get a one-year suspension. If you were under the legal limit or over the legal limit but you complied with testing, then you will get a four-month suspension during which you get a limited permit.
However, it should be noted that a competent attorney should be able to argue against any license suspension, but especially against a one-year suspension. In addition, refusing to take a breath or blood test when stopped for a DUI can be beneficial to you in your criminal trial, as it means that the DA often does not have hard evidence to show a jury your blood alcohol level while you were driving.
Do I Need an Attorney for a DDS Hearing?
Absolutely. An Attorney is essential for a positive outcome at a DDS Hearing.
Can Someone Realistically Handle A DDS Hearing Without an Attorney?
Technically, you are legally allowed to handle a DDS hearing without an attorney. However, It would be absolutely foolish not to have an attorney present for the license hearing. A layperson who is not an attorney will not know who they need to talk to work it out, nor will they know how to talk to them. They certainly will not be able to do a hearing or threaten to do a hearing with any kind of result.
In my opinion, it would not be smart to go to a DDS hearing without an attorney. It would be tantamount to rolling a six-sided dice on an issue as important as whether you will be able to drive for the next year. Put frankly, it is not worth the risk at all.
For more information on Requesting A DDS Hearing After DUI Arrest, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (912) 236-4878 today.
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