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How Do I Appeal an Administrative License Suspension?

Arizona is one of at least 42 states to adopt an Administrative License Revocation policy (also known as ALR or automatic license suspension policy.) If you are stopped for a suspected DUI and you refuse chemical testing or fail that testing, the police officer has the right to confiscate your license on the spot. This is a civil penalty, and is in addition to any criminal penalties related to a DUI conviction. You have the absolute right to an appeal of this suspension, but only 15 days in which to act. At Phoenix DUI Law, we have the best DUI lawyers in Phoenix on our team ready to help you.

What is an administrative license suspension or revocation?

The Arizona Revised Statutes § 28-1321 states an individual who fails to pass a chemical test can have his or her license suspended for 90 days. The officer may confiscate your license at the scene of the arrest. The officer can also give you a 15 day grace period during which you can drive under a temporary driving permit issued by the police officer at the scene. You have the absolute right to appeal this automatic suspension, but you must act promptly.

Furthermore, according to ARS § 28-1321(B), the license suspension periods for refusing to submit to a blood, breath or urine chemical test in Arizona are:

  • One year for a first refusal; and
  • Two years for a second or subsequent refusal within a period of 84 months.

You also have the right to appeal a suspension issued for failure to consent to chemical testing.

What do I need to do to appeal?

It is crucial that you act promptly and retain legal counsel immediately. You only have 15 days to appeal after receiving the notice of suspension. You must submit a written request for a hearing to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) under ARS § 28-1321(F)(2). Again, you only have 15 days in which to do this.

After the appeal is filed, what happens next?

Once a timely appeal is submitted, the Department of Transportation is required to hold a hearing within 30 days of receiving the request. The license suspension will also be placed on hold until after a decision has been made by the administrative law judge at the hearing. This will allow you to continue to drive until the time of the hearing.

What happens at the hearing?

The administrative license suspension hearing is conducted in the same way as a trial in civil court. The case will be heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ.) The accused has the opportunity to call witness and present evidence to refute the allegations. At the completion of the hearing, the ALJ may rescind or revoke the order of suspension if good cause exists to do so. If good cause cannot be shown, the ALJ must uphold or extend the suspension.

What issues will the administrative law judge consider?

According to Arizona law, ARS § 28-1321(K)(1), the issues the administrative law judge will determine at the license suspension hearing are whether:

  • The law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe the alleged offender was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle either:
    • While under the influence of liquor or drugs, or
    • If an individual under the age of 21 had any liquor in their system;
  • The individual was placed under arrest;
  • The alleged offender refused to submit to testing; and/or
  • The alleged offender was informed of the consequences for refusing to submit to chemical testing.

Do I have the right to appeal if the ALJ upholds the suspension?

If I win in front of the administrative law judge or on appeal, does this all go away?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. If the administrative law judge rules in your favor and rescinds the revocation because of insufficient evidence, you will be able to maintain your driving privileges while the criminal action is pending, but the underlying criminal charges do not go away automatically.

The ALJ’s ruling at the administrative license suspension hearing is not admissible in any subsequent civil or criminal proceedings. Therefore, any decision made at the hearing cannot be used for or against your case at a DUI trial at a later time. However, if you win based upon a weakness in the prosecution’s case, the prosecutor may reconsider going forward with the criminal charges.

If I lose in front of the ALJ and don’t appeal, will my license be automatically reinstated and the end of the revocation period?

Again, unfortunately, the answer is no. If the alleged offender’s license suspension is sustained, he or she is required to take and complete an alcohol or drug screening course before they are permitted to reinstate their license after the suspension period has ended. Also, keep in mind this is separate and in addition to any license revocation or rehabilitation requirements the criminal court hearing your case may impose.

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