Being arrested on a DUI criminal charge in Phoenix, AZ, could result in fines and jail time. Moreover, there could be other consequences of a DUI arrest. Some drivers are unaware that a Motor Vehicle Division Hearing (MVD Hearing) is a separate matter that occurs simultaneously with criminal proceedings for DUI offenses.
Many people worry about the criminal charges and ignore the MVD Hearing. You could lose your driving privileges if you fail to take the MVD Hearing seriously, even if your DUI is dismissed or you are found not guilty of the drunk driving charges.
MVD hearings are civil hearings. They are informal hearings, but they deal with very serious questions about your driving privileges. Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) preside over such hearings and decide the cases. There is no jury at an MVD Hearing.
The standard of proof for an MVD Hearing is “a preponderance of the evidence,” which is much lower than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The state only needs to prove that the evidence shows that your charge is more probable than not.
The Executive Hearing Office conducts the administrative hearings for the Arizona Department of Transportation, including several hearings related to DUI arrests.
Three MVD Hearings relate to DUI charges are:
When you drive in Arizona, you give implied consent to a BAC test. This hearing is initiated if you refuse to take a BAC test.
If you refuse a BAC test, the police officer takes your driver’s license upon arresting you for a DUI. You are served with a notice accusing you of refusing a chemical test under Arizona implied consent laws. An officer gives you an affidavit to serve as your temporary driver’s license pending a hearing.
You have just 15 days to request an Implied Consent Hearing through the MVD. If you do not request a hearing, your driver’s license is suspended for one year. If you request a hearing timely, the MVD schedules and notifies you of the hearing’s date and time.
At the hearing, the ALJ must decide the following issues:
If the ALJ is satisfied that the evidence proves each allegation, the judge suspends your driver’s license for failure to comply with the implied consent law. If you have had a prior implied consent conviction within the past seven years, the suspension is for two years instead of one year. You are not eligible for a restricted license during those two years.
This hearing involves other issues regarding your DUI arrest.
The ALJ must decide:
As with an Implied Consent Hearing, you must request an Administrative Per Se Hearing within 15 days. Your license will be suspended for at least 90 days, beginning on the 16th day after your DUI arrest. You could be eligible for a 60-day restricted driving permit if you completed alcohol or drug screening.
If you want to challenge the driver’s license suspension, you must file the request for a hearing within 15 days after the date you were served with the affidavit, usually at the time of your DUI arrest. The suspension remains in effect until all reinstatement requirements are met, including completing a drug and alcohol screening.
When you request a hearing, the affidavit becomes your temporary driver’s license. It could take a few months to obtain a hearing date, so always have the affidavit in the vehicle with you when you drive.
At the hearing, the ALJ asks the police officer what happened during your DUI arrest. You or your attorney can ask the officer questions. You may also testify at the hearing, but that is generally not in your best interest.
The testimony and hearing are only limited to the above three issues. If the ALJ is satisfied that you were impaired at the time of the arrest, the judge upholds the driver’s license suspension. The judge sets a date for the suspension to begin, typically within 30 days of the hearing date.
This MVD Hearing examines your past driving record and how many points you have accumulated against your driver’s license. A DUI and other traffic offenses result in points against your driver’s license. If you have enough points, you lose your driving privileges.
What happens in your MVD Hearing could impact your criminal DUI charges. An attorney can advise you about your hearing before you attend so that you do not hurt your DUI case.
Also, your attorney can raise defenses at the MVD Hearing that could help you get your driver’s license back.
Common defenses used at the MVD Hearing include:
DUI penalties and the collateral consequences can be severe for an Arizona drunk driving charge. Having an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney to guide you through the process can reduce your stress. Your lawyer reviews the case to determine if your legal rights were violated and prepares a defense strategy based on your case’s facts.
If you are arrested on DUI charges, contact our Phoenix DUI lawyer for help. We can represent you at the Motor Vehicle Division Hearing regarding an administrative license suspension for driving under the influence. We can also help you fight the DUI charges.
Consulting with a Phoenix DUI attorney as soon as possible after a drunk driving arrest is the best way to protect your legal rights and beat the DUI charges.