Posted on July 15, 2019 in assault & violent crimes
Drivers in Arizona who are arrested for a DUI can face license suspension even if they are never convicted of a crime. The reason for this is that Arizona’s Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) handles driving privileges as a separate proceeding from the criminal charge.
Arizona considers driving a privilege, not a right. The government reserves the right to restrict or revoke that privilege based on various types of misconduct. Because, by their very nature, DUI charges involve the privilege of driving, an arrest almost always results in either the suspension or revocation of the person’s driver’s license.
When a police officer stops you for suspicion of drunk driving, he or she will likely conduct a series of field sobriety and breath tests. If the officer feels that the results indicate impairment or you refuse to submit to the tests, he or she will place you under arrest for suspicion of DUI. Once you have been arrested, one of two types of suspension will be issued: Admin Per Se or Implied Consent. The officer will issue an affidavit of suspension, and your license will be automatically suspended for 90 days.
Under Arizona Revised Statute § 28.1385, a person’s license will automatically be suspended if the presiding law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to arrest them for driving under the influence. These grounds may be supported by a variety of evidence collected at the scene of the traffic stop. The first scenario that may lead to an admin per se suspension of a driver’s license is if the breath test they took revealed a blood alcohol level of .08. While these results may still be defended against in a court by an aggressive Phoenix DUI lawyer and do not necessarily call for immediate conviction, the results are enough for an arrest and therefore suspension of the license.
Implied consent is a legal term for consent that is inferred rather than expressly given by a person suspected of a wrongful action. What this means for DUI in Arizona is that, by applying for and receiving an Arizona license, all drivers are considered to have implicitly consented to any breath or blood tests if suspected of drunk driving. Refusal of a test is interpreted as a denial of that consent and therefore grounds for an arrest.
When someone is pulled over by a police officer under the suspicion of drunk driving, the police officer will need to administer some type of test to determine the blood alcohol content level of the driver. This is in order to determine whether the driver was indeed impaired and therefore subject to arrest. However, in Arizona, if someone refuses to comply with the specific test chosen by the administering officer, they will be arrested under the implied consent rule.
The affidavit of suspension you receive at the time of your arrest will automatically go into effect 15 days later. During those 15 days, you have the right to request an MVD hearing to challenge the suspension. If you do not request a hearing within those 15 days, the suspension will automatically take effect, and you will not have any further recourse in the matter.
An important closing note on this 15-day rule is that license suspension is not dictated by a criminal court, it can only be reversed by an MVD hearing with an administrative judge. A timely request for a hearing can result in preservation of the driver’s license. However, that hearing must be requested within the 15-day time limit, otherwise the suspension will automatically go into effect. This means that, even if the DUI charges are eventually dropped or dismissed by the state, the driver’s license may still be suspended because they failed to request a hearing within the allotted time frame.