The process of an admin per se suspension in Arizona begins at the time of an arrest for a DUI (driving under the influence) charge. The influence can be drugs, alcohol, or both. The arrest can be made on suspicion, hence the “per se” definition.
Per se means intrinsic or inherently evident in and of itself and must be accepted as fact. In Arizona, the per se doctrine requires the MVD to suspend a driver’s license for 90 days on the suspicion of a driver being under the influence of something.
This blog will focus on the process and the effects of an admin per se suspension, and a driver’s rights in this situation.
The Admin Per Se Suspension
As stated above, Arizona’s per se doctrine requires the MVD to suspend a driver’s license for 90 days based on the per se evidence. An admin per se suspension is an administrative act by the MVD and is separate from, and in addition to, any related criminal charge. Any actions taken at the administrative level cannot be admissible as evidence in a DUI charge in a criminal proceeding.
During the traffic stop, the law enforcement officer must advise the driver that if consent is not given to any test for impairment, the license will be suspended for one year. The officer is also required to advise that if consent is given, then the license will be suspended for 90 days.
The admin per se process begins when the officer issues the admin per se form.
The License Confiscation
A law enforcement officer can confiscate an Arizona driver’s license at a traffic stop, but the officer does not have any authority to confiscate an out-of-state license. In either case, the admin per se form will serve as the license for driving privileges for 15 days.
If a driver is not presented with an admin per se form at the arrest, then a form will be received in the mail from the MVD.
The Testing for Impairment
When a driver faces a 90-day or a 1-year suspension, drivers often consent to impairment tests to opt for the shorter time. It is the advice of an experienced DUI defense attorney to all drivers to respectfully decline any testing.
Blood, breath, or urine test results will be used as evidence by the prosecution to prove its case. The DUI charge will rest heavily if the test results show an alcohol level of 0.08 for drivers of private vehicles and 0.04 for drivers of commercial vehicles. The presence of marijuana, PCP, cocaine, and certain prescription drugs at any level will prove the case for a DUI charge.
In these cases, time is your friend.
The Right to an Administrative Hearing
The admin per se form provides that a driver has 15 days from the arrest date to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. If a hearing is not requested during this period, the suspension will begin on the 16th day. The hearing request will extend the 15 days until the hearing date.
The 15-day period will become 20 days if a driver was not presented with the admin per se form at the arrest.
The request for a hearing is a written application explaining why the MVD should not suspend a driver’s privileges.
At the hearing, the driver and the arresting officer will present evidence to the judge to determine whether the officer had a legal reason to stop the driver, confiscate the license and place the driver under arrest. The test results given with the driver’s consent will be a part of the evidence.
The proceeding at the administrative level has a lower standard of proof than in a criminal case. The administrative level does not have the higher standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt”. For this reason, the results of a hearing at the administrative level cannot be presented in a criminal proceeding.
The 90-Day Suspension
This section will begin by stating that, if a driver has had a license suspension within the previous seven years, restricted driving privileges will not be available, and 90 days will be added to the year-long suspension.
If a driver qualifies for conditional driving privileges during a 90-day suspension, then conditions will need to be met.
First, there is no driving whatsoever during the first 30 days. The driver must finish alcohol screening during this time.
If a restricted license is granted after the first 30-day period, the driver must go to the MVD and apply for it if not received in the mail. It is also the driver’s responsibility to have an ignition interlock device installed. This device will prevent the car from starting if alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath. There will be installation and monthly monitoring fees which will be the driver’s responsibility.
The restricted license is conditioned on the driver being covered by Arizona’s minimum insurance requirements. A restricted license will authorize driving to school, work, court, the attorneys’ and probation officer’s appointments, and alcohol counseling classes.
A driver’s license can be reinstated after the 90-day suspension period by the physical presence at the MVD.
The defense of a DUI case is a technical process, and it will take the expertise and experience of an attorney certified to defend clients in these cases. Arizona has many legal layers and proceedings in a DUI charge.