In Arizona, an arrest for DUI can result in a suspension of the driver’s Arizona driver’s license or privilege to drive through two possible civil proceedings. One of those is called an Admin Per Se proceeding and the other is an Implied Consent proceeding. This article will address the particulars of the Admin Per Se proceeding, and in a separate article will talk about the Implied Consent proceeding.
When a driver is arrested for DUI the police may commence a proceeding with the Arizona Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), known as an admin per se proceeding, which seeks to suspend the driver’s Arizona driver’s license or privilege to drive. The basis of the suspension would be that the driver had submitted to chemical tests such as breath, blood or even urine, and it is anticipated the results of those tests will show an alcohol level of .04% or more if the driver is driving commercially, or otherwise .08% or more, or will show the presence of a controlled substance. The most common way such a proceeding begins is, at the time of the processing for the arrest, the officer takes the driver’s Arizona driver’s license and serves the driver with a copy of an affidavit which states the officer’s reasons why, as a matter of law, the license should be suspended. The officer is not authorized to take an out-of-state license. If the driver has an out-of-state license, or does not have their Arizona driver’s license with them at the time of the arrest, or even has no license, the officer still serves the affidavit on the driver. The officer then sends the original of the affidavit to the Arizona MVD, which begins the Admin Per Se hearing process. The driver has fifteen days from when the officer gave them the affidavit to request a hearing to contest the proposed suspension, otherwise the suspension automatically goes into effect.
Assuming that the person is otherwise licensed/legal to drive, the copy of the affidavit serves as their driver’s license for fifteen days and, if a hearing is requested, until the hearing is held. If the driver does not request a hearing then the suspension goes into effect sixteen days after receipt of the affidavit from the officer. Occasionally the police do not serve the affidavit at the time the arrest but rather wait for blood or urine test results and, upon receipt of those results, forward the affidavit to the MVD. The MVD then mails a proposed suspension corrective action notice to the driver, who in that case has twenty days to request a hearing. Again, if the driver does not request a hearing the suspension goes into effect automatically on the twenty-first day after the notice date.
If a request for hearing is timely filed, a hearing will be held before an administrative law judge. At the hearing the judge determines the following: 1. did the officer have reasonable grounds to place the driver under arrest for DUI; 2. did the driver submit to a test which indicated an alcohol level of .04% in a commercial vehicle or .08% or more in any other type of vehicle, or the presence of a controlled substance; and 3. was the sample obtained accurately tested. If the sample contains a controlled substance it is a defense that the driver had a valid prescription for that substance. It the evidence establishes each point to the judge’s satisfaction, then the suspension is upheld and goes into effect usually within thirty days.
The Admin Per Se suspension of the driver’s Arizona driver’s license or privilege to drive is for ninety days. If the driver has no alcohol-related suspensions within the past seven years, then they are eligible for a restricted driving permit after the first thirty days of the suspension. The permit allows the driver to drive to and from work, school and on the job, as well as to alcohol or drug education and treatment. To be eligible for the restricted permit the driver has to complete a screening session for possible alcohol and drug counseling, but does not have to do any actual counseling. If the driver has an alcohol- or drug- related suspension within the past seven years then the driver’s not eligible for the restricted permit. At the end of the ninety-day suspension as long as the driver has completed the alcohol and drug screening session and there are no other reasons for a suspension, of the Arizona driver’s license or privilege to drive then upon paying a reinstatement fee the driver may reinstate the driver’s license or privilege to drive.