Driving under the influence, or DUI, is against the law in Arizona. If you are found guilty and convicted of a DUI, you could lose your driving privilege as part of your punishment. Even before your criminal trial, however, your license could be suspended simply for being arrested for a DUI. In Arizona, you can request a hearing with the Motor Vehicle Division and argue for your right to drive. A DUI defense lawyer in Glendale can help you avoid license suspension.
Are Driver’s Licenses Always Suspended for DUIs?
If you get pulled over on the suspicion that you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the police will ask you to take a breathalyzer test or another type of drug or alcohol test. If the test shows that you have a blood alcohol concentration level at or above the legal limit of 0.08 percent, your driver’s license will be suspended on the spot. If you refuse to take the test, your license will also be suspended.
The arresting officer will give you a form that advises you that your driver’s license will be suspended in 15 days unless you request an administrative hearing with the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). The police officer may also confiscate your license. The MVD – not the criminal courts – is the agency responsible for driver’s license suspension in most DUI cases in Arizona.
If you choose not to request an MVD hearing or the agency decides to suspend your license anyway, expect a suspension period of 90 days to one year, depending on the circumstances. If you refuse a breathalyzer test, the automatic suspension time is one year.
Can You Avoid Losing Your Driving Privilege After a DUI Arrest?
It may be possible to retain your driving privileges if you’ve been arrested for an alleged DUI. You can do this by challenging your license suspension at the MVD hearing. You must request your hearing within the 15-day window. You can do this by delivering a written request for your hearing at your local Motor Vehicle Division or sending a fax or email. If you make this request by the deadline, this will stop the suspension from going into effect after 15 days.
When your hearing date arrives, you or your lawyer can present an argument to prevent the automatic suspension of your driving privilege due to a DUI arrest. At the administrative hearing, you or your lawyer must convince the courts that you were not driving under the influence with at least a 51 percent certainty. This burden of proof is known as a “preponderance of the evidence.” It is the burden of proof in all civil cases and is less than the burden of proof in a criminal DUI case (“proof beyond a reasonable doubt”).
To meet your burden of proof at an MVD hearing, you must submit clear and convincing evidence to defend your right to drive. Your lawyer may be able to argue that you were not intoxicated and that the breathalyzer test malfunctioned, for example, or that the arresting officer improperly conducted a field sobriety test. Having an attorney represent you during your administrative hearing can decrease the odds of losing your driving privilege.
What if You’re Later Convicted of DUI?
The result of your MVD administrative hearing will not affect the criminal part of your DUI case. It is an entirely separate matter that only deals with the suspension of your driver’s license. Whether you win or lose your MVD hearing, you could face driver’s license suspension for being convicted of a DUI by the criminal courts.
Typically, the suspension time ranges from 90 days to one year. If your license is suspended as part of your sentence for a DUI conviction, you may be able to obtain a restricted driving permit after 22 to 30 days, which will allow you to drive to essential places such as work, school or church. A DUI defense attorney can help you with this process, as well.