An Ignition Interlock Device Limited Driving Permit is an alternative that certain Georgia drivers have after a DUI arrest, rather than file for an ALS appeal. To understand whether this interlock permit is a worthwhile option for you, you need to know what it is and what it entails.
Potential Georgia License Suspensions After DUI – Appealing
After a first DUI arrest, if the arresting officer has initiated a license suspension, you have 30 days to take action. One option is to simply file an appeal with the Department of Driver Services that challenges the officer’s grounds for taking your license and attempting to suspend you. This hearing, known as an ALS (administrative license suspension) hearing is a relatively quick process, usually taking place within 45-60 days after your arrest. The scope of issues is limited to whether the officer had reasonable grounds to arrest you for DUI and whether you either (a) refused or (b) submitted to a test and the results were over the applicable legal limit. These hearings are slanted towards the officers’ favor and most suspensions are upheld, or allowed to go into effect. Depending on whether you took a test, the suspension can range from 30 days with a limited driving permit to 12-months without any permit at all. While a lot is at stake at this hearing, they are very useful for evidence gathering and exploiting and memorializing weaknesses in the officer’s case against you. In these proceedings, the officer must be sworn in and testify, without the benefit of a prosecutor’s help, to establish their case. Just like a real trial, cross examination is allowed and usually judges will give a defense attorney latitude in the scope and nature of the cross-examination questions. We will have this hearing transcribed and anything and everything the officer says, or admits, is admissible in any future proceeding. Often, the temptation to suspend your license is too great for the officer to resist, but they concede crucial points that will be helpful to successfully defending your case in criminal court. For this reason, we believe ALS hearings are very useful for those who are serious about the outcome of your criminal case.
Ignition Interlock Device Limited Driving Permit Option
If you absolutely must have some ability to drive a vehicle after your arrest while waiting for the criminal court to catch up and bring your case to trial, the interlock permit is your alternative. The interlock device itself is a portable breath test sized device that is installed in the steering column of your vehicle (all vehicles you drive). This device is a “blow to start” system that will also randomly test you throughout your drive. You must take the device monthly to be serviced and have the data downloaded. Of course, if you “fail” a test for having alcohol on your breath, the installer will have this data.
While this device does enable you to have a limited permit rather than potentially risk 12 months of not having any driving privileges, there are some crucial things to remember. Mainly, 12 months is 12 months. We always tell prospective clients that even if the prosecutor dismisses your DUI ENTIRELY, the device remains for the 12 months. This is a contract with DDS, so what happens to your criminal charges have no bearing on the device. The most common complaint we hear, and the reason most clients decide against the interlock device is simply the burden and stigma of having this monitor clearly visible in your car. Yes, anyone riding with you, from children to coworkers to your mother in law, will easily notice this device, especially when it is chirping at you to fill it with air.
The interlock device carries both an upfront and monthly cost that you must bear; usually somewhere between $80-100 a month, plus install. While a judge can waive the interlock requirement due to a financial hardship, that is not applicable in ALS situations. You must pay for the device and keep it in good working order.
Final Thoughts: Interlock versus Appeal
Whether to opt for an ignition interlock device or for an ALS appeal letter is not a one size fits all answer. Obviously, many people will have strong feelings and reasons to justify both decisions. The interlock device allows you to keep some driving privileges. It comes with strings. The ALS hearing can be pivotal to winning your case when it does come up for trial, or possibly before, depending on the officer’s performance. However, it carries a tough price: a true license suspension without any permit available.
If you are analyzing which option is best for you, and best for your case, give us a call, 24/7, or fill out our contact form to speak today. Our attorneys are experts at the DUI ALS process and know our area courts, Forsyth County, and surrounding, inside and out. We will not only hash over the differences in the two options with you, but help you look at which would be best for your situation. Reach out to us today and lets begin restoring your good name.