The Inequity of the ALS Process in Georgia

Posted by Richard Lawson | Dec 06, 2016 | 0 Comments

Yesterday, I had an ALS hearing in Marietta on a case involving a refusal to submit to a breath test, along with a blood test that was the result of a warrant. 

The result is the unusual situation where a person is accused of refusing to submit to test when there was an actual test.  A review of the Georgia ALS Process will shed light on this unusual situation.

A person has a right to refuse to submit to testing under the Georgia Implied Consent Law.  In the event of a refusal, their driver's license will be suspended for 12 months.  Our office will appeal that suspension by sending the Department of Driver Services a 30-day letter. 

At the hearing, your Georgia DUI Attorney can enter into an agreement with the arresting officer to withdraw the suspension in exchange for a plea bargain.  The settlement usually means entering a guilty to the DUI in exchange for the ability to drive.

However, in yesterday's situation, the arresting officer lawfully got a warrant to take my client's blood and test it.  Thus, there was an actual test.  However, because the Georgia ALS Process happens before a person's arraignment, we had to decide how to handle the hearing without the actual blood test result.  It happens all the time.  

In the Marietta case, at least I had the incident report and the video.  Based on my training and experience, I had a good idea of my client's level of impairment. 

However, in some jurisdictions, I am not afforded the opportunity to review any evidence before my client must decide how to handle their case.  This forces a client to make an uninformed decision.  As a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I can still advise my clients based on my experience in the jurisdiction, but it is not a fully informed analysis.  

It is unfair to my clients and a clear violation of their due process rights.  That being said, most people cannot tolerate losing their license for 12 months and are forced to settle their case. 

As in most things associated with DUI cases, our judiciary has allowed the inequity of the ALS Process in Georgia. It is a real shame that we as a society cannot at least wait for the result of a blood test before a police officer can insist on suspending their license.

Finally, to be clear, the arresting officer in my example is doing his job fairly and honestly.  I have no issue with him.  I have an issue with our legal system.  

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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