When you've been released from police custody following a DUI charge, there are crucial next steps to take. Calling an experienced attorney should be your top priority. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process, including addressing time-sensitive issues with your driver's license.
Within 10 days, you must make a critical decision; failing to do so results in unfavorable consequences. If you don't act within this timeframe, you forfeit the right to challenge your license suspension at a hearing. You also forfeit the chance to apply to obtain an expedited hardship license to allow you to continue driving for things such as employment and school. Therefore, contacting an experienced attorney right away is essential.
Additionally, it is a good idea to register for the DUI Counterattack School right away. The DMV requires you to submit proof that you registered for the DUI Counter attach School as part of the process of applying for a hardship license. Even if you plan to waive your hearing to challenge the suspension, you'll likely need to attend this class before the DMV would provide you with a valid license at the end of the suspension. Registering for it early can also demonstrate to judges and prosecutors that you are committed to addressing the situation proactively, which can work in your favor during plea negotiations.
Maintaining discretion is crucial during this period. Avoid discussing your case on social media or with friends. Do not discuss the case with anyone else besides your attorney. Your communications with your attorney are privileged, and therefore confidential. Any statements you make to non-lawyers will not be afforded the same confidentiality.
A formal review hearing to challenge the validity of your license revocation for a DUI charge requires several steps. Initially, your attorney reviews the available evidence, typically consisting of police reports and any submitted videos. Then your attorney will have to make strategic decisions, such as whether to subpoena the arresting officer and the breath technician responsible for your breath test results or not. If you subpoena the arresting officer and the breath technician, and either of them fail to appear for the hearing, then the law allows for the license suspension to be invalidated.
These formal review hearings are often held virtually, although some counties still conduct the hearings in person. Hearsay evidence is admissible in these hearings and can be relied upon by the hearing officer in making a decision about whether to uphold the license suspension or not. This, allows the hearing officer to base decisions on written reports and video evidence. Technical errors in police reports can sometimes be grounds for challenging the license suspension as well. For example, if a report lacks the officer's signature, it may not be considered sworn evidence which is required to uphold a license suspension at a formal review hearing. In cases where the officer forgot to sign the report, it may make sense for your attorney to decline to subpoena the officer to the hearing. If the officer shows up, they can swear to the validity of the information in the report, thereby fixing that error and denying you the opportunity to have the license suspension invalidated. Whereas if you decline to subpoena the arresting officer, then the hearing officer might be forced to invalidate the license suspension for a lack of a sworn report.
If the witnesses, including the officer and breath technician, attend the hearing after being served with a subpoena, then they will be called on to provide testimony during the hearing. The police officer generally provides testimony about the reasons for the traffic stop, the facts that gave rise to their suspicion that you were driving under the influence, the details of the criminal investigation, and their decision to effectuate an arrest. The breath technician typically testifies about the process of obtaining a breath sample, including any observations about your level of intoxication and the results of the breath test.
Your attorney can then cross-examine the officer and breath technician to challenge their account or question the validity of their actions. Additionally, you can present case law and arguments based on previous rulings to support your argument that your license suspension should be invalidated.
The hearing officer typically reserves ruling on the hearing and provides a decision later. If you win, your license suspension is invalidated, allowing you to regain your license without any restrictions. However, if you lose, a hard suspension period must pass before you can request a hardship license for essential purposes like work and school. If you were facing your first DUI and provided a breath sample, then you typically have to wait 30 days before applying for a hardship license after losing a formal review hearing, and if you failed to provide a breath sample, then you typically have to wait 90 days before applying for a hardship license. It's essential to note that hearing officers are not always neutral, as they actually work for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, creating a potential conflict of interest.
While a license revocation hearing's outcome does not directly affect your criminal case, it can have indirect implications. If you succeed in the hearing by demonstrating a lack of reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a valid basis for the stop, it can influence negotiations with the prosecutor. Winning the hearing strengthens your position when negotiating for a case dismissal or reduced charges.
However, if the hearing results are unfavorable, they typically remain neutral in your criminal case, as prosecutors often do not become aware of the results of the hearing unless the defense attorney tells them about it. Although prosecutors have the legal right to attend these hearings, it rarely occurs.
Work permits, also known as restricted licenses, are available for individuals facing DUI charges. Two types of restricted licenses exist: business purpose-only licenses and hardship licenses.
A business purpose-only license allows driving necessary for maintaining one's livelihood, including commuting to work, on-the-job driving, educational travel, religious activities, medical trips, and grocery shopping. Whereas a work license restricts driving solely for work-related purposes, such as commuting and job-related driving.
An ignition interlock device (IID) is a small breathalyzer machine installed in your vehicle. It connects to your ignition system and requires you to blow into it before starting your car. If your breath alcohol level registers at 0.02 or higher, your car won't start, and the device reports the violation to the appropriate authorities. Additionally, IIDs often require periodic breath tests while driving, typically every 15 minutes, to prevent attempts to bypass the system.
The requirement for an IID installation depends on your DUI convictions:
Understanding these IID requirements is crucial when dealing with a DUI conviction.