The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

DUI law undergoes significant change


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Aug. 23, 2017 - 5:52 AM

Drinking and driving is dangerous, hurts and kills people, and is 100 percent avoidable. So, just don’t do it.

However, there are drivers arrested across the state every day who are accused of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Some end up being found guilty; some are not.

As citizens, it is important to know about changes in the law. On July 1, a major change that has already impacted many drivers in Georgia became law.

When a driver is stopped by law enforcement and investigated for DUI, he is usually arrested. At the time of arrest, the officer must read the implied-consent warnings to the driver. Basically, the officer tells the driver that he will seek to take a sample of blood, breath, or urine. Do not confuse this with the small portable alco-sensor which is considered a “field sobriety test.” If the driver refuses to provide a sample after the warnings are given, he will likely receive what is called a 1205 form.

Prior to July 1, if a driver received a 1205 form based on refusing to provide a sample or agreed to take the breath test at the police station and registered a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or over, he had 10 business days to appeal. If the appeal was submitted in a timely manner, the driver would receive notice for his Administrative License Suspension court date. If the driver did not appeal, he would lose his license for 12 months.

Today, Georgia operates under a new system that provides two choices. The new law also requires the lawyer and driver to make early decisions. Obtaining the dash-cam video quickly is critical.

Choice 1 – When there is a refusal or a BAC of 0.08 or over, the officer can take the driver’s license and begin the administrative procedure by giving the driver the 1205 form which now serves as a license valid for 45 days.

The new law extends the time to appeal from 10 business days to 30 business days. The cost of the appeal is $150, made in writing, usually written by the lawyer, and should be sent by certified mail.

If an appeal is not filed, then the license is suspended. If an appeal is filed, then the case goes before an administrative judge to determine whether the stop was legal, were implied-consent warnings read properly, and were there any civil rights violations. This hearing is separate from the criminal case.

Choice 2 - Instead of appealing the administrative process, the driver can just apply for an Ignition Interlock Limited Permit. To get the permit, the driver must:

  1. pay a $25 permit fee;

  2. apply within 30 days of the arrest;

  3. surrender his or her license; and

  4. sign a waiver of the administrative hearing.

The permit is good for one year and must be installed on the driver’s vehicle.

Like other limited permits, there are conditions, such as only driving to and from work, for medical care, school, treatment, court, community service, and court-related activity.

Some drivers, like people under 21, commercial licensees, drivers who were convicted of one or more DUIs within the past five years, and drivers with out-of-state licenses, are stuck with Choice 1.

Jason Swindle is a criminal-defense attorney and college professor in Carrollton.