DUI Case: Drivers License Sanctions and Procedures

At a DMV hearing, a DUI defendant awaiting license suspension has the opportunity to explain to the court why his license should not be suspended, or why he deserves to have a provisional license due to the hardship he might incur with a suspension. A person who cannot get to work or school without a car can make the argument that the hardship of not having a license will be too great for the offense with which he has been charged.  All hearings are recorded and the driver and police officer will both be sworn under oath to tell the truth.  The ticket violation details will be read into the record and the official violation will be noted.

Testimony of Arresting Officer

The ticketing police officer will offer his testimony first and then the driver will have the opportunity to give his version of events as well as offer a reasonable explanation or excuse for the violation.  It would be wise for the driver to hire an attorney to represent him.  An attorney would know how to cross-examine the police officer and would know how best to present the reasonable excuse a driver might have to justify the traffic violation.

Whether or not a driver has an attorney, the DMV will need to see evidence to support the driver’s case.  Some types of evidence to bring are as follows:

  • Photographs
  • Diagrams
  • Witnesses
  • Receipts
  • Hospital Records if excuse is a medical emergency
  • Police Report if available

In California, the standard for finding someone guilty of a DUI at a DMV hearing is “preponderance of the evidence” which essentially means that the evidence indicates it is more likely than not likely that someone was driving while under the influence. The preponderance of the evidence is the lowest of all standards to meet, which means it is fairly easy for the DMV to suspend a license for a DUI violation. 

The DMV looks at the police report to determine the existence of evidence determining probability. 

On the criminal side of a DUI or DWI, the court’s standard for conviction is much higher.  In order to criminally convict someone of a DWI/DUI, the evidence must offer proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  This standard is the highest and the hardest for the court to prove. Most people charged with a DUI are unaware of the large number of legal defenses to a DUI. Hiring a DUI lawyer can prove to be one of the most beneficial decisions during a DUI case.

Scheduling Your DMV DUI License Hearing

States have different timelines for scheduling a hearing with the DMV.  If your license was issued in Arizona, you have only 15 days from the date of your citation to schedule a hearing with the DMV. 

If you do not schedule or attend your DMV hearing, you may have your license suspended, regardless of whether you plead you are not guilty.  The DMV hearing is strictly administrative with regard to your driving privileges and its purpose is to decide whether your license is suspended, revoked or restricted.  It has no effect on the criminal charges, fines, or jail time you might face.

SR-22 Certificate and Insurance

As a result of a DUI conviction, your license may be suspended.  Suspensions as a result of a DUI conviction require the filing of an SR-22 certificate with the DMV and payment of reinstatement fees after the period of suspension is over.  The DMV requires certification of future proof of financial responsibility, which is the purpose of the SR-22 certificate. You may obtain an SR22 from any insurance company that is licensed to conduct business in your state. According to the Arizona DMV, failure to maintain proof of future financial responsibility for the required length of time may result in a loss of your driving privilege and/or vehicle registration.  Insurance based on an SR-22 certificate is much more expensive than other types of insurance. 

Reinstating Your License

If the DMV has revoked your license due to a DUI or other drug or alcohol offense, most states require you to provide the DMV with a current evaluation from a licensed physician, psychologist or certified substance abuse counselor regarding your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

You will also need to submit a request for investigation to start the process of having your license reinstated.  The DMV will send you an investigation packet to complete and will then investigate your criminal and driving record before determining whether you are able to receive your license.

Some states require you to request a hearing within 15 days, and some are as little as 10 days.  Either way, if you do not request a hearing, most states will automatically suspend your driver’s license following a DUI.

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