If you find yourself arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI) in the State of Arizona, and you have submitted to a breath, blood, or urine test, and the results of the test reveal a blood/breath alcohol result of .08% or higher, or you have refused these tests, you can expect to be involved in two separate legal proceedings.
- A criminal proceeding in court
- A civil proceeding with the Department of Motor Vehicles (MVD) and the likely suspension of your driver license.
These two proceedings are mutually exclusive; the outcome of one will not affect the other. You could win both matters or lose both matters. How the MVD driver license hearing is handled is extremely important.
Your DUI arrest begins your criminal proceeding. The consequences of this — plea of guilty, or a verdict of guilty following a jury or bench trial — could result in mandatory jail time, fines, fees and assessments, supervised or unsupervised probation, as well as a criminal record. The civil proceeding is conducted before an administrative hearing officer at the MVD. This proceeding deals with a possible suspension of your driver’s license, or if from out of state, your privilege to drive in Arizona. The arresting police officer will serve you with a “Notice of Suspension.” If you have been arrested in Arizona for DUI and you take a breath, blood or urine test, and the results measured a alcohol concentration of .08% or more within 2 hours of driving, or you refuse to take the blood, breath or other chemical test, the arresting police will serve you with a 90 day driver license suspension notice, or in the case of refusal, a 12 month driver license or driving privilege suspension. The police should give you two copies of this form.
If your test results indicate a result of .08% or higher, the police will seize your Arizona driver license, and issue you a temporary license which is valid for 15 days, or, if you request a hearing within the 15 day window, until the hearing is conducted and the outcome determined. Since the police confiscated your driver license, the yellow copy of the suspension notice is your temporary driver license.
If you are from out of state, the police cannot seize your driver license. They will serve you with a notice of suspension of your privilege to drive in Arizona. The suspension will take effect 15 days after service unless you request a hearing within the 15 days. If a hearing is requested, your privilege to drive in Arizona will not be suspended until the hearing is conducted and the outcome determined.
If you refused to take the breath, blood or urine test, the police will serve you a notice of a 12-month suspension of your driver license, or privilege to drive if you are from out of state. This suspension becomes effective 15 days from the date of service unless you request a hearing. If a hearing is requested your driver license or privilege to drive in Arizona will not be suspended until the hearing is conducted and the outcome determined. If your refused to take a breath, blood or urine test, it is likely that the police obtained a search warrant and obtained your blood anyway. If this is the case, your driver license or privilege to drive will still be suspended for 12 months even though the police obtained your blood through the use of a search warrant.
A request for hearing must be submitted in writing to the MVD. Generally, the pink copy of suspension form, furnished by the police, is used to request this hearing. It is important to fill out the information completely and accurately on the back of the pink form. You must check the box indicating you are requesting an Administrative Hearing and mail it, within 15 days of service to you by the police, to: Arizona Department of Transportation, Executive Hearing Office, Mail Drop 507M, P.O. Box 2100, Phoenix, AZ 85001-2100. Do not select Summary Review; this will not get you a hearing, but merely a review of the paperwork submitted by the police.
In the criminal case, if you plead guilty to the charge of DUI, or if you are found guilty, you will be sentenced in accordance within the present Arizona DUI sentencing guidelines. When the State receives notification of the verdict, your driver license will be suspended for 90 days. However, if you are a first offender, or you have had no DUI convictions within the past five years, and if you took the breath, blood or other required test, and if you have been found guilty in the criminal proceeding, or you feel that such a result is likely, then you may wish to agree to a suspension of your driver license prior to or at the MVD hearing.
Agreeing to the suspension will entitle you to a 60 day restricted driving permit following a 30 day suspension. The suspension is still classified as a 90 day suspension. To obtain the restricted driving permit, you must apply at a local MVD office following the first 30 days of the suspension. Agreeing to the suspension will generally resolve the civil proceeding sooner and oftentimes well before the resolution of your Criminal matter in court. This is advantageous as you get the suspension over with sooner and under less onerous circumstances. Agreeing to the suspension will generally result in no further suspension of your driver license if you later plead or are found guilty of your DUI in court. In the case of a stipulated suspension from MVD, there will be no requirement that you post proof of Financial Responsibility before your Arizona driver license or privilege is reinstated. Agreeing to the suspension will allow you to select the day you want your suspension to begin, so long as the suspension start date is within 45 days of your MVD hearing date. This allows flexibility in arranging transportation to work or school during the initial 30 days of the suspension. NOTE: If you request a hearing and actually go through with it and lose, the only difference is that your will not be able to choose the day the suspension begins. You should still be eligible for the 30 day driver license suspension followed by the 60 day restricted driving permit.
If you agree to the suspension, you do not get a hearing with the administrative law judge. You do not get to challenge the police officers or contest the evidence in the civil hearing. Sometimes this hearing may be important to gather critical evidence in your DUI case. However, this decision should not be made without first discussing your DUI case and individual circumstances with an experienced DUI defense attorney.
If you have the Administrative Hearing and win, and later lose your DUI case, either through a plea or finding of guilty at trial, MVD will suspend your driver license for 90 consecutive days. There is no eligibility for a restricted driving permit following the first 30 days of the suspension. Further, if you are convicted either through a plea or finding of guilty in court you will be required to provide proof of financial responsibility (insurance) for three years by filing with the State of Arizona either a $40,000 cash deposit, or Certificates of Deposit (CD’s) totaling $40,000 or a Certificate of Insurance (SR22). This Financial Responsibility requirement could have significant cost implications for you, depending upon your selection of acceptable Financial Responsibility filings and/or your insurance carrier’s underwriting requirements.
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