Georgia House Bill 205 has been signed into law and will take effect in 2017, allowing drivers who refuse testing of their blood, breath, urine or other bodily substance a ignition interlock permit. This is a major change from current law which hits drivers with a 12 month hard suspension- that is, no permits available for 12 months.
Current Refusal DUI Law Recap:
Currently, after you are arrested for DUI, the cop reads you implied consent. This warning essentially tells you that you must take a test- breath or blood 99.9% of the time- but that you can refuse the test. However, if you refuse the testing, your driver's license will be suspended for 12 months. Take the test, and most cops don't even submit the suspension paperwork to driver services.
This has been the law and protocol in Georgia since before I started practicing. Of course, under this scheme, drivers are faced with the terrible choice of pleading to a DUI, regardless of how they feel about their innocence, or getting hit with a 12 month suspension and not driving while they fight their DUI charges in court. This decision even keeps many attorneys up at night, wondering whether they can broker a deal to somehow save their clients' licenses while preserving the right to defend their case and have a day in court.
New 2017 Changes to Add Ignition Interlock Device Option:
House Bill 205 was signed into law on April 26, 2016, and radically changes the license suspension scheme in Georgia. When the law takes effect on July 1, 2017, it will allow drivers who have been charged with a refusal DUI to forgo their right to an administrative hearing on the issue and instead install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a prescribed time period.
In order to take advantage of this new system, drivers will have to make application for the interlock permit within 30 days, pay $25, surrender their driver's license, and waive their right to a hearing by affidavit.
In addition to interlock permits instead of refusal suspensions, the law will still allow second DUI offenders to obtain a permit after 120 days. However, if you are able to obtain a financial hardship waiver from a judge, then you must wait the full 12 months post conviction before reinstating your license. In other words, you cannot plead guilty to a 2 in 5 DUI, get a hardship waiver, and immediately get your license back. You must wait out the year first.
Another plus? If you can beat the DUI charge with a dismissal, or a reduction to reckless driving, you can immediately have the ignition interlock device removed and get your driver's license back.
Zeliff | Watson DUI Lawyers Know Ignition Interlock Rules
If you have been charged with DUI, and have questions about how ignition interlock can benefit you and keep you driving while we fight your DUI case, give us a call today.