Living in the state of Georgia, where a comprehensive public transportation isn’t generally found (or desired), losing one’s driver’s license can be devastating. If you don’t have a driver’s license, you may very well have no way to get to work, to school, or critical medical appointments. Life can be very difficult.
There are many ways to lose your license, Driving Under the Influence being one of them. Naturally, as a public safety issue, we don’t want people who are prone to driving impaired to be driving. Drunk driving kills. Period. There is no ‘other side’ to that issue. Still, people make mistakes, and their mistakes, when not ‘chronic,’ should not necessarily derail their entire lives.
There is a ‘contract’ that you enter into when you get a driver’s license. Remember – you don’t have a right to a driver’s license, legally speaking. Driving is a privilege granted to you by the State under limited circumstances. You have to be a certain age, you have to prove your ability, and you can’t abuse the privilege. Part of that contract is ‘implied consent.’ Implied consent means that, when you accept your license, you are consenting to the State’s right to make you breathe into a machine if they think you are drunk. If you refuse to do it, then your right to drive can be revoked.
Of course, these are high stress situations. Even if you are stone cold sober when the police suspect you of being under the influence, the situation is scary. You are threatened with going to jail and all the attendant consequences. Plus, if you are in fact under the influence, you might not be in a frame of mind to make the wisest decisions.
And so, enter House Bill 205, which creates a new code section, O.C.G.A. 40-5-64.1. Generally speaking, under the old law, if you are convicted (or plead nolo) to Driving Under the Influence, your driver’s license will be suspended. However, if it is your first conviction, you can get a limited driving permit, which allows you the privilege of driving to school, to work, to medical appointments, and to court related destinations (like your community service and meeting with your probation officer.) If your license has been suspended because you refused the breath test, however, the limited permit was not available to you. HB 205 changes that. You can get a limited permit if it is your only conviction in the past five years. If it is your second in five years, then you can get the limited permit after serving a hard 120 days (approx. four months) of suspension. Driving in violation of this limited permit is a misdemeanor.
This new availability of a limited permit is NOT available to someone who:
· Is under 21
· Doesn’t have a license to begin with
· Has a commercial driver’s license
· Has an administrative suspension involving an accident where there were serious injuries or fatalities
· Has a driver’s license suspended for another reason besides DUI
The law is confusing, and every exception has exceptions. The best way to make sense of it is to not put yourself in the situation where you are driving under the influence.
Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice. It is being offered for informational purposes only.