License Suspensions In Tucson DUI Cases
One of the most confusing aspects of being charged with DUI concerns the status of your license, and one of the most often asked questions is, "How can MVD suspend my license when I have not been convicted of anything?"
The answer is that two license suspension actions arise out of a DUI. The Admin-Per-Se suspension, and a suspension that results from conviction. In theory, the MVD Admin-Per-Se license suspension, and the license suspension for a DUI conviction, are separate actions.
Privilege vs. Right To Drive
The Admin-Per-Se is administrative. To comprehend this issue start with the understanding that nobody in Arizona has the "right" to drive. If your license is suspended in an administrative action, MVD is not taking away your "right," but suspending a privilege which, according to Arizona law, MVD may grant and revoke.
The privilege to drive is granted to individuals provisionally. That is, there are strings attached. Some common provisions, which everybody understands, are that you must pass a driver's license test, and when you drive, obey all driving laws.
A less understood provision is the Admin Per Se / Implied Consent agreement. Most states have these agreements. Begin with the idea you enter into a contract with the State when you drive. Arizona agrees to grant you the privilege to drive. You agree, likewise, to a whole litany of things. One of the things you "implicitly" agree to is that MVD will suspend your driving privilege if you are arrested for DUI and test over the legal limit. Everybody enters into this agreement just by driving.
Your driving privilege is suspended by your implied agreement. Yes, this has been challenged in court and it is legal. It is basic contract law. So, technically speaking, your driving privileges are suspended by your consensual agreement, and not by the State taking away your "right." What most people find appalling is that this suspension can occur even if you ultimately win your criminal case.
Challenging The Administrative Suspension
Once an officer issues an Admin-Per-Se license suspension, the suspension will automatically begin 15 days later. That is, unless you request a hearing. As the Admin-Per-Se form indicates, the hearing is limited. The hearing officer will only want to know:
Whether or not you were arrested for DUI and whether the cop can articulate some reason for arresting you.
Whether or not the Admin-Per-Se form is properly filled out.
Whether the chemical test results indicate your BAC was over the legal limit.
The judge will not enter into an analysis of whether the cop is lying or not. The cop simply needs to testify he observed signs and symptoms consistent with alcohol impairment; that he either saw you driving or in physical control, and that your blood or breath alcohol content was .08 or greater.
If you request a hearing within 15 days of receiving the notice of suspension, your driving privilege suspension will not go into effect. You will be granted a hearing, and if you lose the hearing, only then will the license be suspended. If you win, your license will not be suspended unless you are later convicted of the DUI, either by plea or by jury.
If you are later convicted of DUI, your license will be suspended as punishment for the conviction, and.... unlike an Admin-Per-Se suspension, which simply requires you to pay reinstatement fees, you will have to present proof that you have purchased expensive SR22 insurance.
Now suppose you lose your hearing and your license is suspended pursuant to the Admin-Per-Se Implied Consent statute. And suppose you are also convicted of the DUI. Does that mean your license will be suspended a second time? The good news is that in most cases MVD will substitute in the Admin-Per-Se suspension. This way, you will not serve two suspensions. Furthermore, because your license is suspended pursuant to the Admin-Per-Se statute, and not because of the DUI conviction, you will not have to purchase expensive SR22 insurance to get your license back.