Several years ago, our federal government began pressuring each state to pass new or stricter laws to punish drivers that are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or both. What resulted was the administrative license suspension or administrative license revocation hearing. A procedure conducted by your state’s licensing bureau. And, the result of losing at this hearing is punishment added on to what might occur in the courts. That’s why officers take your license when they arrest you, even before you’re pronounced guilty by a court of law. So, whatever happened to being “innocent” until proven “guilty”? It’s not fair, but it’s something that you need an attorney to deal with immediately.
There are very short time limits, between 5 and 30 days, for requesting a hearing, appeal, or motion to rescind a suspension or revocation in your state. And if you miss that window of opportunity, then you are SOL and the hearing will go on without your input.
Some states even look more favorably upon drivers who take the state blood, breath, or urine tests and score over the legal limit, than for those who refuse all testing. And, the penalties, just like in the court system, will vary depending upon whether this is your first, second, third, or fourth offense. Still, other states will penalize your license driving privileges for refusing to take the BAC tests than if you are convicted at the criminal DUI/DWI trial.
You need to consult with an attorney who specializes in this type of practice, to be able to determine what you should do about your license hearing because your right to drive may hang in the balance.
A number of issues can be raised during an administrative hearing on your driver’s license suspension or revocation. These hearings are conducted with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Department of Public Safety (DPS), or Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). These hearings can lead to penalties that are in addition to the court determinations. It is important that you be represented at these hearings to not only win here but to assist in the preparation of your case with the court system. Remember, these hearings can often expose weaknesses in the officer’s criminal case, which will be heard later. Your lawyer may use transcripts from these sworn ALR/ALS hearings to impeach or contradict the officer’s testimony at a later hearing or trial.
States also vary in the way they determine if or when you can drive a motor vehicle for attending school or going to work or for other necessities or emergencies. This can be particularly devastating for someone who relies on driving to earn a living. Make sure the attorney you hire is capable of handling these administrative issues for you. Most criminal attorneys who don’t specialize in DUI/DWI defense may not be familiar with all the issues and complexities of administrative law in this area. Get appropriate representation and you can WIN these hearings despite what others may tell you!