Are There License Suspensions for Refusing a Blood, Breath or Urine Test in GA?

If you are arrested for DUI, the state may suspend your driver’s license if you refuse to provide a chemical sample of your blood, breath, or urine.

Yes, there are. Like most other jurisdictions in the United States, Georgia is an implied consent state. Whether they realize it or not, when motorists sign their driver’s licenses, they agree to provide chemical specimens of their blood, breath, or urine, if a law enforcement officer has a reasonable basis for requesting the sample. A refusal of this testing will result in a suspension of your driver’s license for a minimum period of one year.

Another question our Norcross criminal defense lawyers hear a lot is, “Should I blow into a breathalyzer or provide a blood or urine sample?” We usually tell people not to provide samples. The conviction rate in non-test cases is much lower than the conviction rate in test cases. These tests are voluntary, however, as mentioned above, refusal of this testing will result in a suspension of your driver’s license for a minimum period of one year.

Some lawyers see this question differently. They believe in the old saying that if you get stuck in a hole, you must stop digging. The consequences for refusals are worse than the consequences for failures. So, nothing good happens if you refuse the test. These lawyers may have a point, but we still advise you not to provide a sample.

Suspension Periods

The blow-or-no-blow question is a little different in Georgia. The suspension period of one year is the same for a refusal as it is if your BAC is over 0.08 (or 0.02 if you are under 21). However, defendants who fail chemical tests are eligible to have their license reinstated after a thirty-days, and during those thirty-days, the defendants is allowed to drive to and from work, to and from school, and for most other essential purposes.

Suspended licenses do not magically become valid again when the suspension period ends. A driver must pay a reinstatement fee and submit proof of completion of a DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program.

The ALS Process

The ALS process begins when the arresting officer fills out a document titled DDS Form 1205. The officer has to fill out the form if you had a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more, or if you refused to submit to testing. From the date that you were arrested and receive the form, you have 30 days to request a hearing in order to prevent the automatic suspension of your privilege to drive in Georgia. This is commonly referred to as the 30 Day Letter.

At the hearing, a Georgia DUI Attorney can argue that there was not probable cause for the officer to make an arrest or numerous other defenses. Another option is that the Attorney could work out an agreement between you and the arresting officer so you are able to keep driving. Winning your ALS hearing means that your license is saved from being suspended and you can continue to drive.

Before July 1, 2017, it was known as the 10-day letter because you only had 10 business days to request a hearing, but it has now been extended to 30 calendar days. Furthermore, you have the decision to request a hearing or install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle to save your driving privileges.

O.C.G.A. §40-5-67.1(2) sets out the parameters of an ALS hearing

The scope of the hearing shall be limited to the following issues:

(A)(i) Whether the law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving or in actual physical control of a moving motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and was lawfully placed under arrest for violating O.C.G.A. §40-6-391; or

(ii) Whether the person was involved in a motor vehicle accident or collision resulting in serious injury or fatality; and

(B) Whether at the time of the request for the test or tests the officer informed the person of the person's implied consent rights and the consequence of submitting or refusing to submit to such test; and

(C)(i) Whether the person refused the test; or

(ii) Whether a test or tests were administered and the results indicated an alcohol concentration of .08 grams or more or, for a person under the age of 21, an alcohol concentration of .02 grams or more or, for a person operating or having actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle, an alcohol concentration of .04 grams or more, and

(D) Whether the test or tests were properly administered by an individual possessing a valid permit issued by the Division of Forensic Sciences of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on an instrument approved by the Division of Forensic Services or a test conducted by the Division on Forensic Services, including whether the machine at the time of the test was operated with all its electronic and operating components prescribed by its manufacturer properly attached and in good working order, which shall be required. A copy of the operator's permit showing that the operator has been trained on the particular type of instrument used and one of the original copies of the test results or, where the test is performed by the Division of Forensic Sciences, a copy of the crime lab report shall satisfy the requirements of this subparagraph.

Do I need an Attorney?

Yes! You should absolutely speak with a Georgia DUI Attorney before making the decision to appeal or install the interlock device. Many people are under the misconception that if they are charged with a DUI, there is nothing that can be done but nothing could be further from the truth. Every case should be investigated to see if any defenses apply and you should never just plead guilty. Additionally, if you do not request a hearing within 30 days of your arrest, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for one year, so time is of the essence!

Count on a Dedicated Gwinnett County DUI Defense Lawyer

DUIs are serious offenses in Georgia. For a free consultation with an experienced Norcross criminal defense lawyer, contact Zimmerman & Associates, Attorneys at Law.