Driver’s License Suspension

Most Common Grounds for License Suspension or License Revocation -Administrative License Suspensions (ALS) and Administrative License Revocations (ALR) sanctions and penalties for refusal to test or for being over the Legal Limit

By: William C. Head, Atlanta DUI Attorney

The administrative penalties and sanctions for either refusing to submit to the forensic testing (blood, breath or urine) requested by a police officer who believes that the person driving was drunk, or (in the alternative) submitting to implied consent testing and producing a printed police evidence card (a breath test card BAC (blood alcohol content) “number” showing an unlawful blood or breath alcohol level) can cripple a person’s right to drive. This page provides you with much more important information about your legal obligations for DUI testing, plus the changes in U.S. Constitutional law associated with forcible blood draws by police, where a nonconsensual blood extraction is accomplished without a judicial warrant.

Public campaigns pursued and financed by MADD and other political activists seek to wipe out drunk driving and drugged driving, (or as some writers have stated, to possibly seek to reinstitute Prohibition) and have led to many state law changes.  These national efforts at various local legislatures have caused state lawmakers to make our national DUI-DWI laws more punitive each year, changing the DUI-DWI laws in virtually every legislative session.  In addition, the American courts, from the United States Supreme Court down, are generally unsympathetic to those accused of drinking and driving (or drugged driving) offenses. A trend toward more onerous jail sentences, probation supervision, DUI Court or Drug Court being mandated, and installation of an ignition interlock device for even first DUI offenders is the trend.

Additionally, some states have passed laws calling for heavy monetary fines for refusing to submit to forensic alcohol BAC level testing or drug content testing from blood tests or urine tests. A few states (e.g., Hawaii, Florida) now impose jail penalties of up to one full year for certain DUI-DWI offenders who refuse to submit to implied consent testing (informed consent testing) when lawfully arrested for DUI-DWI-OWI-OUI. These driver’s license punishments and DUI penalties of a civil nature are added to the administrative license suspension or administrative license revocation sanctions. So, you can BOTH go to jail and lose all right to drive when you are released from jail, BEFORE getting to the criminal charges against you on the same drunken driving arrest!

Also be aware that whatever NON-CRIMINAL driver’s license suspension or revocation (or other harsh sanctions) are imposed, you still must face the CRIMINAL driving under the influence charges, with the potential for more jail time, probation, ignition interlock, random testing while on probation, being required to agree to a Fourth Amendment waiver, taking DUI classes, alcohol and drug assessment and treatment, plus much more potential punishment like AA meetings (or the secular alternative).

Using whatever force is required to collect a sample of blood alcohol content from accused drinking drivers who try to refuse “voluntary” breath testing has now been interdicted by a landmark United States Supreme Court case. In Missouri v. McNeely, ___ U.S. ____, 133 S.Ct. 1552, 185 L.Ed.2d 696  (2013), our nation’s highest court held that “natural metabolization of alcohol in the bloodstream does not present a per se exigency that justifies an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s search warrant requirement for nonconsensual blood testing in all drunk-driving cases.” In a nutshell, a garden-variety DUI that does not involve a possible felony, or a death or serious bodily injury, no officer can simply physically extract blood or urine from an unwilling, resistant subject to get a BAC result. The high court indicated that such events need to have the intervention of a disinterested magistrate or other judge to be presented with the facts, and then consider signing a search warrant for blood, urine or possibly both.

With several prior reported cases of DUI-DWI suspects being killed by police as law enforcement tried to obtain a forcible blood sample, this ruling was sorely needed. Getting a warrant to collect blood is not a license to kill, either, but common sense does not always prevail, as recent news stories attest and civil lawsuits for wrongful death are filed across the United States. Hence, forcible blood draws are no longer part of a police officer’s threats to coerce a detained DUI suspect to provide a forensic sample.

A defendant who refuses chemical testing is normally subjected to an administrative license revocation or suspension.  In many states a defendant who submits to chemical testing and is found to have a blood or breath alcohol level (BAC) above a specified limit (presently 0.08% for drivers age 21 and older in all American jurisdictions) is also subject to an administrative license revocation or suspension.  These administrative penalties (which typically come before any criminal trial) are normally imposed after a cursory administrative hearing that barely affords many licensees the chance to address many issues concerning the legitimacy of the pullover or the arrest.

Because our impaired driving laws change constantly, the reader will need to go online to get current information about his or her state’s DUI laws on drinking and driving, and drugged driving.  A summary of the key legal provisions and statutory code sections from the OWI-OUI-OVI-DUI-DWI (drunk driving) laws of each American jurisdiction can be found online at the DUIBook.com.

Call and speak to a top DUI lawyer anytime day or night at 844-832-6384. We will put you in touch with one of the best DUI attorneys in your area.