PLEASE SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF ARTICLE AS OF JULY 1ST, 2017
In Georgia, driving is considered a privilege rather than a right. Being arrested for a DUI in Georgia triggers both a criminal and civil process. In the civil process, the Georgia Department of Driver Services (“DDS”) will attempt to administratively suspend your driver's license. This proceeding is called an Administrative License Hearing (“ALS”).
After a DUI arrest, the police officer may fill out a document called a “DDS Form 1205.” The officer is required to do so if either (1) you had a BAC of 0.08 grams or more at the time of your arrest; or (2) the officer alleges that you refused to submit to the state administered chemical test. By filling out the "DDS Form 1205," the officer sets the civil proceeding to suspend your license into motion.
You are not powerless in this situation. After your arrest, you have 10 business days to file an appeal to prevent the automatic suspension of your Georgia driving privileges. This request is referred to as the "10 day letter." If you do not file this letter timely, your license will be suspended.
Our office policy is to send a 10-day letter in every single DUI case. Here's why:
First, sending the 10-day letter ensures that the client is protected. Some officers make a habit of sending in the DDS 1205 notice for every DUI arrest. Even if the officer cuts you a break and allows you to keep your license, he or she may still send in a DDS Form 1205 simply out of habit.
Additionally, some officers purposefully allow suspects arrested for DUI to keep their driver's license to discourage sending in a 10-day letter. This dishonest practice allows people to think there is no need to request a hearing. As a result, people miss out on having a chance to contest the administrative license suspension.
Second, the benefits of sending the letter far outweigh the risks. The 10-day letter is associated with a $150 filing fee. If the officer does not send in the DDS 1205 notice, the filing fee will be refunded. Thus, clients have nothing to lose by paying the fee and much to gain.
Finally, in cases where there is a blood test, an officer can also file a “DS-1205-S Supplemental Chemical Test Report” when an arrestee's blood tests results have a BAC over 0.08 grams. Keep in mind, blood test results can take over three months to be completed by the crime lab. That is why we file the 10-day letter in blood test cases. By having a hearing request on file with the Department of Driver Services, it protects our clients from a potential suspension.
So, it is office policy to send a 10-day letter in all cases. There is nothing to lose. It is an inexpensive insurance policy against having your license suspended for up to one year.
UPDATE JULY 1ST 2017
The 10 day letter as described previously has now been extended to a 30 day letter. If you have been arrested for a DUI, you now have 30 days to either appeal your automatic license suspension or install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. If you do not file an appeal or install the interlock device before the 30 days are up, it will result in your license being suspended for up to one year. For more information, please visit 30 Day Letter / ALS Hearings.