DUI ALR – Administrative License Revocation

Almost every state’s DUI-DWI law requires that you will automatically have your driver’s license suspended if you are arrested for DUI-DWI and a resulting chemical test of your blood, breath or urine yields a numeric result at or above the applicable legal limit (e.g., 0.08 for adults who are not operating a commercial vehicle), or if you refuse the blood, urine or breath testing requested by your arresting officer.

While you may or may not get a temporary license to provide limited driving privileges for you after your arrest, if you want to get your license back, you face a DUI ALR administrative license revocation that is separate from your criminal case.

Your ALR hearing and your criminal hearing or trial may seem to you to be similar type legal proceedings. In fact, the decisions reached usually involve some of the same facts that surround your arrest. Your criminal case involves whether or not you broke the law, and whether the State can prove you broke the law beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, the administrative license suspension often has little to do with whether or not you broke the law. Instead, it is based on the limited right you have to be allowed to drive a vehicle, conditionally granted to you at some time in the past by the State, and whether or not this right has been taken away from you in a constitutionally approved manner. This chapter discusses this administrative license suspension/revocation procedure, and how this interacts with your criminal case.

The ALR almost always occurs before your first DUI criminal court date.

It is unlikely any hearing or your trial will be held within many weeks, if not many months after your DUI-DWI arrest. It will typically take that long for your DUI attorney to investigate your case, gather all the information he or she can, and then organize experts and your defenses. Even if you have a constitutional right to a speedy trial, such rapid trials typically benefit only the prosecution because they usually have all their information for your prosecution within hours of your arrest.

Except for the scheduling hassles, the prosecution expects you to show up for your trial unprepared and without any adequate or organized defense to the pending charges.

On the other hand, most state administrative license revocation ALR hearings have to be held by statute within weeks, and rarely more than thirty days after your arrest. It is typically not a question of whether or not you lose your license. Commonly, at the time of your arrest, the law enforcement officer took your regular driver’s license and gave you a temporary driving permit, which is valid for thirty days or less.

Your state’s license agency may delay this hearing for a lengthy period (60 or more days), so long as your limited privilege to drive is protected until the hearing. The ultimate question is usually whether your license to drive should be returned to you by the state or whether it will be suspended or revoked.

An ALR proceeding is civil in nature, not having anything to do with any criminal penalties. Losing your license in one of these hearings may seem like a criminal penalty, but it is not. Beyond taking away your ability to drive, an ALR hearing does not also generate penalties such as fines or jail, or performance of community service hours.

Because it is a civil proceeding and not a criminal proceeding, your state’s civil discovery rules may be used to obtain information from the state, not the criminal rules of procedure. While misdemeanor criminal discovery in your state may be very limited, civil discovery is universally more extensive in its reach and scope. Depositions are more readily available in civil cases. In preparation for depositions, the State has to disclose certain information.

Depositions are pre-trial meetings between the parties with a court reporter present. Depositions allow your attorney to be able to question witnesses for the State under oath, and to create a certified transcript of such testimony for later use at trial or pre-trial motion hearings.