In addition to the criminal penalties the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles can suspend your license civilly. The length of time depends on the number of convictions, whether or not it was a refusal, and the amount of the breath test. For example, a refusal extends the period of suspension on a first time DUI to one year, and to 18 months if you have ever refused in the past.
Under the old rules before July 1, 2013, the ticket you received was good for a temporary 10-day driving permit. After this 10-day period, there was a "hard suspension" for an additional 30 days (or for 90 days if this was a refusal). During this "hard suspension" the driver is not eligible for any type of driving permit. This period was able to be altered, however, if a formal hearing is requested, and even with the change in the law, a hardship is still available if you request a formal hearing.
Now, the DMV has made it difficult for you to enforce your rights. You are given the option to get a hardship immediately without requesting a formal review hearing, if you apply IN PERSON, within 10 days, but only if you waive all your rights to a hearing and so long as you are eligible (eligibility means a 1st time offense, with no prior alcohol related charges, and the license is not suspended for any other reason such as child support or no insurance or other reasons). For some this may be appealing to them, and is actually better. However, by waiving all your rights to a hearing, you lose your chance to get your license back and your driving record will always have the notation of a DUI arrest EVEN IF YOU LATER GET IT DISMISSED in criminal court. The long term ramifications of this on one’s record can not be overstated. Furthermore, for those that do hire an attorney and decide to choose a Formal Review Hearing and win, then you will be able to get your full license privileges returned, including CDL privileges if you have those, unlike just choosing to get a hardship and waiving that right.
The DMV’s goal is clear: They don’t want you to fight these. They will tell you that if you lose your formal hearing, then there will be a “hard suspension,” but they fail to tell you how this will impact you later in life. With this new change in the law it is crucial that you contact an attorney IMMEDIATELY to discuss your options, even if getting the immediate hardship may be the better way for some individuals. However, since each individual situation is different, this is where the attorney’s knowledge can help you. When there is a civil suspension, a formal or informal review may be requested. However, A HEARING CAN BE REQUESTED ONLY WITHIN THE FIRST 10 DAYS FOLLOWING ARREST.
You can still choose an informal hearing which is conducted by a hearing officer by examining the materials submitted by the law enforcement officer and you. The officer is not required to attend. The hearing officer has 21 days to either sustain, amend, or invalidate the license suspension. There is little to no advantage in having an informal hearing, as the formal review hearing allows the attorney to advocate in person, giving the client a much better chance at winning the hearing.
The formal hearing is usually held within 30 days of requesting a hearing by a DHSMV hearing officer. At this hearing, the hearing officer will be authorized to administer oaths, examine witnesses, take testimony, receive relevant evidence, issue subpoenas, regulate the course and conduct of the hearing, and make a ruling on the suspension. One is allowed to subpoena witnesses including the arresting officers, however, this may involve the payment of witness fees. The hearing officer has to make a decision on the suspension within 7 days following the hearing. Because of this, our office is able to make a better assessment of the case earlier as it allows a chance to evaluate the best possible options for each client.
SPECIAL NOTE: No matter how you get your hardship license, whether it is on your own, or by having the attorney request a formal hearing, REMEMBER the driver's license suspension remains in effect pending the outcome of the hearing and one can only drive for Business Purposes Only if a temporary driving permit is issued. In other words, Don't Drive if you’re not allowed to drive!!