What are Administrative License Suspensions (ALS) Hearings in Georgia?
Upon arrest on DUI charges or failure to submit to State-administered breath, blood, or urine tests, your driving privileges are automatically suspended. To preserve your right to drive while a current prosecution for DUI or DUI refusal continues, you must file an appeal within 30 days of arrest. With that filing is a mandatory $150 fee.
An ALS Hearing is also available to drivers with more than 1 DUI in the past 5 years, commercial driver’s license holders, drivers under the age of 21, and drivers licensed to drive in another state.
At the time of arrest for DUI or DUI refusal, you will be given a form from the arresting officers called a DDS Form 1205. This form is required if your blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent or higher. Your request for an ALS hearing is often called the 30-day letter.
The ALS hearing is the first place to defend your rights. Depending on the facts of your individual case, there are a variety of ways your DUI criminal defense lawyer can represent you at this hearing.
The ALS hearing is the first place to examine the quality of evidence the prosecution has secured against you. Challenges can be made, once again, depending on the specific facts of your case:
- Did the arresting police officer have reasonable grounds to believe that you were driving while impaired?
- Did your driving cause any accident where there was serious injury or a fatality?
- Were you properly read your implied consent rights, which lists the consequences for refusing to take a State-administered breath, blood, or urine test?
- What tests did you actually refuse and are these tests reliable for measuring intoxication?
- What were the blood alcohol levels, if a test was administered—0.08% for an adult driver, 0.02% for a driver under the age of 21, 0.04% for a commercial driver holding a commercial driver’s license?
- How were the tests administered, by a qualified person, under what circumstances?
- Were you informed of your right to have an independent test administered at the time of your arrest?
What’s at stake at the ALS hearing is your continued ability to drive in the state of Georgia pending the outcome of your DUI or DUI refusal prosecution. A license suspension means that your driving privileges are temporarily withdrawn and are automatically reinstated once the suspension period is over. You do not have to reapply for a new license. This is different from a license revocation, which requires a wholly new application for a driver’s license before you can begin to drive again. If you lose at the ALS hearing, you have a right to appeal.
After a Georgia DUI, do I need an attorney to request an ALS hearing?
You can request a hearing yourself by submitting the request form found on the GA DDS website. However, early intervention by experienced legal counsel can preserve your rights and defenses. Imagine what might be lost if an ALS hearing is not requested or handled incorrectly. The ALS hearing is the first place your DUI defense lawyer can determine the quality of evidence gathered by the prosecutor, the competency of the police, and the reliability of any witnesses. This can be an all-important opportunity for your DUI defense lawyer to cross-examine the arresting officers and to get a transcript of their testimony. That cements what they can say at any subsequent trial, which opens possibilities for plea negotiation or further trial strategies. You don’t want to miss out on this screening opportunity, if it will benefit your case.
Many cases of DUI and DUI refusal present viable opportunities to contest the prosecution’s version of what happened. Only skilled criminal defense lawyers know how to look at the police and toxicology reports with an eye towards seeing irregularities and possible illegalities.
- Were you stopped at a DUI checkpoint? Did the checkpoint conform to constitutional requirements of fairness?
- Were your rights fully respected at the time of the arrest? Were you given Miranda warnings in addition to any DUI implied consent warnings?
- Were you read the required implied consent warning at the time you refused to submit to any roadside or station house breath, blood, or urine tests? Did you actually refuse or were the police officer’s actions ambiguous?
- Were roadside field sobriety tests administered? What was the training of the officers and what tests were used? Do you have any physical limitations and/or medical conditions that would hinder your ability to perform these tests?
- Did you rescind any consent to testing or rescind your refusal to test during the encounter?
- Were you informed of your right to independent testing and were you afforded an opportunity to have that independent test?
- Were any other rights violated during the stop and arrest?
The benefit of the ALS hearing might not seem evident to you as a novice to the DUI prosecution process. However, this is also a time when your defense lawyer and the prosecutor can have an initial sit-down to discuss what lesser charge might be available as a negotiated plea agreement. This would save you money and time, and perhaps lessen any penalties, especially if this is a first offense.