Driver’s License Suspension After A DUI
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.
A DUI Can Mean Driver’s License Loss
Driver’s license loss is one of the hardest DUI penalties to accept. Losing your driver’s license would be almost unbearable and can hamper many areas of your life:
- How will you get to work?
- How will you get to school?
- What about transporting your children after a DUI?
- How will you rent a car on a business trip?
- What impact will no driving have on your current job?
You can face an administrative license suspension very quickly after your DUI-DWI arrest – in some states in as little as 10 days! So you have no time to lose. Talk to a local DUI attorney right now at 1-888-839-4384. Your conversation is completely confidential. If you hire a seasoned DUI lawyer from day 1, you may get to keep your driver’s license as your DUI case progresses through the courts.
Your Driver’s License Can Be Suspended Within 10 Days of Your Arrest!
Most people arrested for DUI have no idea that their driver’s license may be suspended by their local Department of Driver Services (DDS) within 10 days of their DWI arrest. This is called an “Administrative License Suspension”, or ALS. It is completely separate from any license revocation by the criminal courts. Once the DDS finds out about your drunk driving arrest (which they do via instant computer notification), they can suspend your driver’s license in as little as 10 days! That’s why you have to talk to one of our highly sought after DUI attorneys immediately. They know how and when to file motions to stop your DUI ALS.
If you can keep driving during all of this, your life can appear normal to family, friends…and bosses! Plus you can drive to DUI school, community service commitments, and alcohol and drug counseling/support groups if you need further help.
Driver’s License Loss Can Last Years
If your latest DUI arrest was not your first DUI and especially if your DUI arrests were “back to back”, you face long-term driver’s license loss that can last for years. That means you cannot drive at all, or in some cases your driving will be severely restricted. For example, transporting children (yours or anyone’s) after a DUI conviction may be forbidden. Each state has their own level of strictness and punishment around loss of driving privileges, so you MUST retain the very best DUI lawyer you can afford – someone who knows the State DUI laws and has worked with the local prosecutors and judges.
Hardship License or Work Permit Options
After a DUI conviction, or even between the time of your DUI arrest and the start of your criminal trial, your driving privileges may be severely curtailed. With a highly successful DWI lawyer on your side you may be fortunate enough to obtain a “hardship license” or a special driver’s “work permit”. A hardship license can be granted after your DUI arrest if your DUI attorney can prove that you “qualify” for conditional or limited driving privileges due to financial hardship or other debilitating circumstances.
For example, if there are no mass transit options to get to and from work, a tenacious DUI lawyer can argue that losing your job would unfairly harm your family. Or that you want to attend further alcohol or drug treatment programs.
But even the best DUI attorney has no ultimate control over a court’s decision in these matters. Every honest DUI attorney will tell you that upfront.
Your DUI attorney also can fight for a work permit that gives you the right to drive to and from work ONLY. But if you are granted one of these work permits, DO NOT get caught by the police driving to the grocery store! The police take this offense very seriously, and so do the criminal courts.
More DUI Drivers License Suspension Resources
To learn more about a driver’s license suspension after a DUI, read some of our in-depth articles below:
- Administrative License Suspension (ALS)
- Administrative License Revocation (ALR)
- What Happens if I Get Caught Driving With a Suspended License?