If you’re charged with a DUI, what most people don’t know is that you’re actually faced with two cases:
The two cases are almost completely independent of each other because one is controlled by the criminal legal system, while the other is controlled by the administrative/civil legal system. It’s quite common to have your DUI charges dropped, but to still lose your administrative hearing with the DMV/DoL regarding your license suspension.
This also means that each case is tried under different burdens of proof. The state has a higher burden of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt that you were intoxicated while driving) to meet in your DUI criminal case because you have a legal right to your life and liberty. However, the state’s burden of proof for your license suspension hearing with the DMV/Department of Licensing is much lower, because driving privileges represent a property interest, not a right. The Department of Licensing only needs to see whether the officer had reasonable grounds to arrest you for driving (or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence) with a BAC concentration of .08 or above. This is why beating the license suspension can be difficult.
Because most states levy an automatic driver license suspension along with a DUI arrest, the first action you need to take is not with the criminal court, but with your DMV/Department of Licensing. In order to challenge the suspension, you must request a hearing within the proper timeframe according to your state’s laws. The proper timeframe to request a hearing is usually within 10-20 days after arrest, so you shouldn’t procrastinate. If you fail to request a hearing, then the license suspension will hold, even if your DUI charge is later dropped. Engaging the services of a DUI lawyer is advisable for a DUI charge because oftentimes cases can become quite complex regarding deadlines and preparation.