Funding Renewed for GSP Legal Assistance Program



(ATLANTA)—A pilot program of the Georgia State Patrol that provides legal representation to State Troopers at Administrative License Suspension hearings is proving successful after the first year of operation.  The program is funded with a grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and funding to continue it for another year has been approved.

            The program was created and funding sought in 2004 to provide legal representation for troopers as they testified at Administrative License Suspension hearings for people charged with driving under the influence.  In Georgia, under certain circumstances, the State can administratively suspend the driver’s license and the ALS hearing is held when the motorist contests the suspension.  The first step in implementing the program was when the department hired former prosecutor Dee Brophy as the ALS attorney to develop the program and represent the troopers. 

            “Providing an attorney to represent the trooper at an ALS hearing evens the playing field since the motorist is often represented by an attorney who specializes in DUI,” Colonel Bill Hitchens, GSP Commander, said. 

            As part of her duties, Ms. Brophy files pre-trial motions or assists the troopers with filing the motions as well as conducting the direct examination of the trooper’s testimony at the ALS hearing, introducing relevant documents, conducting cross examination, making objections, and arguing the case at the close of evidence.  She is also available to conduct legal research and file written briefs and post-hearing motions. 

            Since the program began in late 2004, Ms. Brophy has represented Georgia State Troopers on almost 500 ALS cases in three of the nine GSP troops across the state.  In addition to providing representation at the hearings, Ms. Brophy conducted Administrative License Suspension and DUI training for all troopers in the state during 2005.  The training was designed to assist troopers with the type of testimony and documents that are to be presented at the ALS hearing, and to help them improve their efficiency and effectiveness in DUI cases.  Troopers were trained on a variety of issues related to DUI cases including the basis for vehicle stops, probable cause to arrest for DUI, objections, and issues related to implied consent, independent tests and cross examination.

            “The program is one that has been extremely beneficial to the State Patrol,” Colonel Hitchens said.  “While this is a pilot program, hopefully it can be expanded in the future to not only include every ALS hearing that every trooper attends, but involving all law enforcement officers in the state.”