When you're arrested for DUI, you're likely to face two types of consequences: criminal prosecution and administrative action by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). While the criminal penalties of a DUI don't occur until after you're convicted, the administrative penalties—such as revocation of your driver's license—go into effect almost immediately. Since not being able to drive can have a significantly negative impact on your life, you can delay any action taken by the DMV by requesting an administrative hearing. However, here are two things you need to know about this option to protect your rights.
You Must Request a Hearing Within a Certain Period of Time
The first important thing you need to know is you only have a limited amount of time to request the administrative hearing before the DMV takes action against your driving privileges. The time limit differs depending on where you live. In California, for example, you must request a hearing within 10 days of being served notice in person or 14 days after receiving written notification in the mail. In Maryland, you have 30 days after the incident occurred to request a hearing.
Therefore, you need to request an administrative hearing as soon as possible after you're arrested for DUI. Once the DMV receives your request, it will generally postpone any pending administrative action against your license until after the hearing. You may actually escape any license penalty if your criminal case resolves in your favor before the administrative hearing takes place.
Your Testimony Can Be Used Against You
The other critical thing you need to understand about the administrative hearing is anything you say during the proceeding may be used against you in your criminal case. When evaluating whether to suspend or revoke your license, the hearing officer will consider all the evidence obtained by the police (e.g. breathalyzer results), testimony from the cop who pulled you over, and information obtained from other sources that relate to the case (e.g. prior DUI convictions).
You will typically be given an opportunity to mount a defense. As noted before, however, anything you say or present to the hearing officer can be subpoenaed by the prosecution and used against you in criminal court. So, it's essential that you talk to an attorney prior to the hearing (or have one present with you) to avoid making a mistake that could land you in jail.
For more information about administrative hearings or preparing for one, contact a lawyer.