DUI Administrative License Suspension and the MVA
The Motor Vehicle Administration or MVA takes its own action against a defendant driver’s license when they are charged with DUI. They take action not based upon the fact there was an alcohol-related charge but rather the fact that a certain BAC number was was blown into the breathalyzer machine or that the defendant driver refused to blow at all.
At the outset, law enforcement is constricted to reading the licensee his DR – 15 rights prior to requesting a breath sample in the machine. Strangely this predicate requirement is sometimes overlooked by the police officer and if that is the case the results of a breathalyzer test or the fact of a refusal may not result in any action against the licensee. The DR – 15 form must be signed by the licensee indicating that they have been read this form. And unless the licensee refuses to sign the executed form must be provided to the MVA in order to proceed forward against the license. Once the properly executed form is provided to the MVA along with the breathalyzer strip from the machine evidencing the BAC number is also required along with a certification that the defendant licensee was operating a vehicle under the influence of an ill legal BAC number. These are the forms that must be provided to the MVA and when properly completed, they form the basis of the MVA’s case against the licensee. A licensee is always free to request an admistrative hearing to evaluate the evidence and the limited defenses that a licensee may has at the admin hearing.
Depending on the BAC number that is blown into the machine or that is otherwise obtained from a state sanctioned blood test (not a hospital draw), certain actions will be taken against the license. If a licensee blows between a .08 and .14 this is a lower tier blow and will generally result in a 45 day suspension of the defendant’s license. The licensee is free to pay $125 to the MVA and request a hearing on their case and request the hearing judge to modify the suspension and allow the person to drive to, from and during work only. Outside of work the licensee would be suspended during that 45 day period of time. If the licensee opts for this alternative following a hearing, they will have to go to the MVA and get a modified license and at the end of 45 days they will have to go back to the MVA and get a regular license. Interestingly, the licensee is constricted to the work modification after the 45 days if they fail to go back to the MVA to get the regular license. Basically this is the government’s way to force you to go back and get another license and pay the fee all over again.
Happily if a defendant blows under a .08, there is no administrative penalty for those persons 21 years of age and older. If a licensee is not yet 21 years of age and provides a breath sample evidencing a BAC of .02 or higher they will face administrative penalties for violation of a license restriction because of the fact they are a minor and not allowed to have alcohol in their system. This is a fairly onerous ticket as the suspension period has recently been increased to one year and while the judges have some discretion in the matter they are imposing large periods of suspension often times with the interlock.
If the licensee refuses to blow in the machine when asked to do so or refuses to give a blood sample when asked to do so they will be considered as a refusal. In a refusal case the MVA will move to suspend the defendant’s license for 120 days or four months. If the licensee needs his license to drive for work or during work he will have to obtain an interlock which is installed in his car at his expense for a period of one year non-modifiable. If the licensee agrees to blow in the machine and blows over a .15 this places the licensee in a second tier and they now face a 90 day suspension of their drivers license which is not modifiable for work although they still can obtain the interlock for one year at their expense. Any circumstance where licensee desires to get an interlock to protect their driving privilege must to be done within 30 days of the arrest and a new license needs to be obtained from the MVA within 30 days or that licensee will be subject to a period of suspension before they can drive again. So time is of the essence in these situations.
The MVA is constantly passing new regulations that govern these situations and it can get more involved than what is stated herein. If you are charged with a DUI and have questions about the administrative penalties it is important that you contact counsel as soon as possible because an MVA hearing must be requested within 10 days of the arrest and if the interlock is necessary it must be installed within 30 days or there will be negative implications on the drivers license. If you desire to modify a 45 day suspension for work purposes, it is still recommended that you seek the assistance of counsel for that purpose.