Depending on where your ALS hearing takes place, the procedural practices may vary. Most ALS hearings are time sensitive, which means that the Judge will call the calendar right at the designated time of the court appearance. If you are not present when your name is called, the Judge may enter a default judgment against you. Give yourself ample time to find the courthouse and the assigned courtroom, as often it can be difficult to know whether your are in the right spot if it is your first time attending an ALS hearing.
Once your name is called, if your officer is not present, the Judge will likely offer to rescind the license suspension – which means you win. Thereafter, once DDS has received notice, you should be able to reinstate your regular license (if you have a Georgia license and there are no other holds on reinstatement).
If your officer is there, the Judge may invite you to have a conversation with the officer. Many officers are willing to take some time to explain a few of your options, and try to help you figure out the best possible solution. However, you are at an extreme disadvantage during this conversation, so you should proceed with caution.
The officer may suggest that you enter into a withdrawal agreement that requires you to sign off on a guilty plea to DUI. You will likely not know what those terms will include, whether jail will be part of the deal, or how long you may have to be on probation. The officer is NOT the prosecuting attorney, and it is only the prosecuting attorney who has the authority to make an offer regarding the DUI terms. It is very dangerous to make such an agreement at this early stage without the assistance of an attorney.
If you don’t know what to do after speaking with the officer, you may want to approach the Judge and request a reset to give you an opportunity to speak to an attorney. Depending on the Judge, and the officer, your request may be granted. You should know that there is no requirement that the Judge reset the hearing, and in many cases the Judge will refuse such a request.
At this point, you may feel pressured into going forward with the hearing. If you are not an attorney, or you are not familiar with the rules of evidence and the scope of an ALS hearing, it may be nearly impossible for you to prevail at the hearing. More often, what will happen is you actually reveal information that will hurt your chances in court. If you are sure you want to represent yourself, you should consider observing ALS hearings at prior calendars to give you an idea of what will happen and what will be expected of you at that hearing.
If your license is critical to your job or necessary for your daily routine, it is important that you do your best to make sure you are well represented at your ALS hearing. Talk to an experienced DUI attorney before attempting to represent yourself.