DUI LAW UPDATE
By far, the bill at the greatest impact on DUI defense practice is the defense of traffic cases is Senate Bill 100. Senate Bill 100 resolves the discrepancy between the definition of commercial motor vehicle in O.C.G.A section 40-1-1 and O.C.G.A section 40-5-142. Effectively July 1, 2015 the definitions will be the same. This can be useful in DUI defense because some officers may not realize that a vehicle qualifies as a commercial motor vehicle under the new definition, and the reading of the wrong warning can be grounds for the suppression of test results or a refusal. Senate Bill 100 also contains a wonderful opportunity for drivers who have had their licenses canceled or their applications for a license denied due to a suspension in another state. The language in O.C.G.A section 40-5-22 (c) prohibits issuance of a license to such individuals, and the Court of Appeals recently upheld the DDS’s interpretation of this code section in Wolff v. Georgia Department driver services 330 Ga. App. 552 (2015). Senate Bill 100 at subsection D to O.C.G.A section 40-5-22 which will allow the DDS to issue a limited driving permit to such drivers if they are otherwise eligible for such limited driving permit in accordance with paragraph one of subsection (a) of code section 40-5-64. Another significant change enacted in Senate Bill 100 is the elimination of mandatory license suspensions for fraudulent or fictitious use of or application for license as provided in code section 40-5-120 or 40-5-125 or any felony violation of article 1 of Chapter 9 of title 16 if such offense related to an identification document as defined in code section 16-9-4. Section 4-15 of Senate Bill 100 repeals the driver’s license suspensions imposed upon drivers under age 21 in O.C.G.A section 40-5-57.1 for underage possession of alcohol, and section 4-16 repeals the suspensions for such offenses found in O.C.G.A sections 40-5-63 E and F. Section 40-17 of Senate Bill 100 replaces the language in O.C.G.A section 40-5-64 to allow the holder of a limited driving permit, including a ignition interlock limited driving permit, to drive for work purposes in addition to driving to and from work. Section 4-18 modifies a controlled substance language in O.C.G.A section 40-5-75 to apply only to convictions for DUI of drugs under O.C.G.A section 40-6-391(a)(2), (a)(4), and (a)(6). The suspension will no longer apply to drug offenses that do not involve the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol. It appears that a first or second suspension within five years would be eligible for a limited driving permit under O.C.G.A section 40-5-76 if the defendant is participating in a drug Court program. No other permit authorization can be found in the code. Section 4-24 modifies the language of O.C.G.A section 40-6-15 relating to driving with a suspended registration to allow for one plea of nolo contendere every five years to avoid the license suspension contemplated in O.C.G.A sections 40-5-54 and 40-5-63. Senate Bill 100 provides that almost all its provisions are effective on July 1, 2015 and it is intended to be applicable to offenses that occur on or after that date. Contact a Douglas County DUI lawyer for help with your DUI charge.