Anne Bishop, P. O. Box 313, Gainesville, GA 30503 (770) 783-5296

A. Bishop Law, LLC

Georgia DUI: Pre-Trial License Suspension Process

A police officer is talking to a woman in the back of his car.

Georgia DUI License Suspension Law is a specialized area of the law that most people should not navigate it without at least talking to a lawyer.

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Georgia DUI and the Pre-Trial License process is a much regulated area.  It is not a simple he hit me or she has drugs in her pocket matters.  It is an area of the law that requires law enforcement to follow various laws, policies, training lessons, and administrative regulations.  It is not an easy process for the officers to navigate.  When hiring a Georgia DUI Lawyer, it is important they know the Pre-Trial License Suspension and Administrative Law process.


A police officer is talking to a woman in the back of his car.

After a DUI arrest, a driver’s license can potentially be subject to an administrative license suspension from Georgia’s Department of Driver Services. A driver only has 10 days to file an appeal after the day of arrest, so it is important to seek legal help as quickly as possible.

What is the Pre-Trial License Suspension Process?

1.  Meet with a lawyer

DUI and the Pre-Trial Licenses suspension issues are serious matters and you almost certainly need a lawyer.  A lawyer can try to find errors in the case that a non-lawyer would probably not even know existed.  If you need surgery, you go to a doctor.  If your toilet busts, you call a plumber.  Why?  Because of their training and experience.

Almost all DUI lawyers will meet with you for 30 minutes for a free consultation to discuss your options.   When making a hiring decision, use your intuition.  Lawyers are like shoes, if they do not feel right, do not spend your money on them.

2.  Appeal Any Suspension Notice 

If you refused the Blood, Breath or Urine Test or tested over .08 (.02 for under 21 year olds) BAC (blood alcohol concentration), the officer may have served you with a 1205 Form for Notice of Intent to Suspend your driver’s license.  This is an attempt at a Pre-Trial Suspension of your driver’s license BEFORE your criminal case is resolved.  The Pre-Trial Suspension is separate from the criminal case.  (A criminal conviction for DUI also carries License Suspension penalties.)

Being arrested is a stressful time, so many people do not understand the 1205 form or even remember if they received it.  It generally looks like this (see page 7):  1205 Notice of Intent to Suspend.

You have ten days from your arrest to appeal the pre-trial suspension.  The ten days are counted as only the business days, but I always calculate in the calendar days, so there are no surprises.  Many people misread the 1205 Form and think that they have 30 days, but they are wrong.

If you do not appeal, you automatically lose the Suspension Issue and your license will be suspended even before you step into the courtroom for your DUI case.

3.  Get a Hearing Date for the Administrative License Suspension Hearing

Usually 2-4 weeks after an appeal is filed for the pre-trial license suspension, a court date comes in the mail from the Administrative Law Judge setting a hearing date on the license suspension issue (not the DUI issueâ€that is a separate issue that will be addressed at a later time).  The license suspension hearings are usually set 2-4 weeks after you receive the notice for the hearing.  This notice goes to your lawyer, the arresting officer and the defendant (you).

4.  Attend the Administrative License Suspension Hearing

Generally, the most important issue is whether the arresting officer will appear for the hearing.  In my experience, if a State Trooper arrested the driver there is about a 95% plus chance they will appear for the hearing.  All other officers and agencies vary and are the proverbial “coin flip”; with some officers and agencies having a very high probability of showing up and some having a lower probability.

In my experience, 25% of hearings are resolved by one party winning the hearing due to the other side not appearing.

If all parties are present, the lawyer and the officer discuss whether a hearing will occur.  That is, your lawyer will try to negotiate with the officer (or their attorney, if they have one) to resolve the issue without a hearing.  This saves you a lot of time. It is important to note that, except for the Department of Nature Resources, which gets help through the Attorney General’s Office, a majority of law enforcement officers are without a prosecutor/ their own lawyer present for the Administrative License Hearing.  This is a great advantage for you and your attorney.

Before any actual litigation on the hearing occurs, the officer is looking for the defendant to agree to plead Guilty to DUI at the criminal court arraignment in exchange for a dismissal of the Administrative License Suspension.  This is the officer’s best case scenario.

The defendant’s lawyer is generally looking for either the officer not to appear at the suspension hearing or to get the officer to agree to a reduction from DUI to Reckless Driving.  This is your best case scenario.

Of the hearings where everyone is present, in my experience, 75 to 90% are resolved by some sort of agreement.  Very few Administrative License Hearings actually result in a litigated hearing. 

The main 3 reasons are:  1) Lack of attendance; 2) The Refusal Suspension is for a full year, so many defendants fear it; and 3) The standard for the State is very low at the Administrative Hearing, so there is a high probability that the defendant will lose.

5.  Conduct the Administrative License Suspension Hearing

If the officer shows up for the hearing and your lawyer cannot reach a compromise with the officer to get you a deal, then you will probably go through with the hearing at that point.

As mentioned above, the standard of proof that the officer has to meet to win the hearing is very low.  It is not a criminal case where the standard is Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (95-100%), but the civil standard of Preponderance of the Evidence (51%).

Generally, a lawyer is looking to accomplish three main things by actually conducting a hearing:  1) Hope that the officer forgets to prove an issue in court and thereby, the defendant would win; 2) There is a legitimate error in law, policy, or procedure that the officer made that would cause the State to lose the hearing; or 3) Get any early preview of the testimony that will be similar to the criminal case, which will help your lawyer to know what to expect for your DUI case.

Again, due to the standard of proof being very low for law enforcement, if the officer appears and remembers to present all relevant evidence, the Administrative Law Judge rules in favor of law enforcement almost all the time.

This end result is why it is crucial to have a lawyer advise you from the beginning.  There are so many options in a DUI case, including License issues, so that having an experienced lawyer guide you on the ins and outs is crucial.  The end game is very rarely to have a full-blown license hearing, especially on a Refusal to testing.

6.  Get the Results

Most judges take about a week to make and publish the ruling on the case.  If one side did not appear, the ruling is known at the time of court and formalized in a written Court Order.  If there was a contested hearing, the Judge rarely rules in court, and the Court Order issued is the first notice of the Court’s Order.  The Orders are found at:  Get My Decision.

7.  Appeal to Superior Court

On a vast majority of cases, the Administrative Law Judge has the final say on the Pre-Trial License matter.  However, in some rare cases, an appeal can be filed with the Superior Court.  The purpose of the appeal is not to re-litigate the facts and testimony of the Pre-Trial License Suspension issue, but to appeal an incorrect application or interpretation of Georgia Law.

8.  Focus on the Criminal Case

After the Administrative License Suspension Hearing, it is important to take the information learned and apply it to the Georgia DUI Criminal Defense case.  Whether it is saving the full one year Refusal Suspension, a No Show or learning the facts and testimony; the information learned at the License Suspension Hearing needs to be applied to the Criminal case.

At A. Bishop Law, our Georgia DUI Lawyer, understands the importance of appealing the Notice of Intent to Suspend and the impact it can have on the Georgia DUI Criminal Defense case.  

Our Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney welcomes any questions on Criminal Defense and Georgia DUI laws. Please Call or Email us about any questions you may have about GA DUI laws in Georgia and please remember your initial consultation is free of charge.

About the attorney:  Anne Bishop is a Georgia Lawyer with A. Bishop Law in Gainesville, Georgia and handles various DUI / DWI, Marijuana Arrests and other Georgia Criminal Defense matters.  The law office of A. Bishop Law can assist clients throughout Georgia including: Hall County (Gainesville, Oakwood, Flowery Branch), Jackson County  (Jefferson, Braselton) White County (Helen, Cleveland), Lumpkin County (Dahlonega), Dawson County (Dawsonville), Habersham County (Demorest, Cornelia), and all of Northeast Georgia.

This article and/or video should not be considered nor relied upon as legal advice since it is only intended for general overview and informational purposes. Please consult with an attorney on your specific situation in order to determine an appropriate legal course of action.

Anne Bishop
A. Bishop Law, LLC
Attorney at Law
539 Green Street NW
Phone: (770) 783-5296