What Is an Administrative Hearing After a DUI?
Following a drunken driving arrest in South Carolina, a motorist’s driver’s license could be suspended. According to state law, there must be a hearing within 10 days of the arrest. This process, known as an administrative hearing, is separate from a criminal trial and does not determine guilt or innocence. Anyone who has been charged with a DUI should have an understanding of how the process works and what to expect.
When Administrative Hearings Are Necessary
Not everyone accused of DUI will have to participate in an administrative hearing. For the most part, these are reserved for cases in which a driver’s license is automatically suspended. In South Carolina, those cases include when a driver refuses to submit to a breath test, or the driver blows a breath test of 0.15 or higher. However, it is possible for any driver to request a hearing, though the request must be made within 30 days of the arrest or else the driver forfeits the right.
The Issues Addressed
An administrative hearing is crucial for ensuring that the arresting officer following the correct procedures in making the arrest. The DMV will address the following:
- Was the arrest that occurred lawful?
- Did law enforcement have probable cause to pull over the driver?
- Did the driver know that in South Carolina, refusing to submit to a chemical test automatically results in a license suspension?
Lastly, the DMV will evaluate whether or not the evidence was properly collected. In some cases, people may be unable to blow hard enough to register a reading on a breath test. An officer could incorrectly mark this as a test refusal when actually it is an incomplete test.
A Driver’s Rights
While there is no judge or jury at these hearings, a driver may still present evidence and even have an attorney present. The evidence may be enough to convince the hearing officer that the driver’s license should not be suspended. In some cases, a driver may also be able to argue that he or she needs a restricted license in order to get to work or school. Drivers should be aware that these administrative hearings are completely separate from a criminal hearing. While an administrative hearing is optional, a criminal one is not. It is even possible to have a negative outcome at the administrative proceeding but still win a criminal case.
Both administrative and criminal proceedings can be complex. At Nosal & Jeter, LLP we have years of experience helping clients navigate their DUI charges. We can help you determine whether or not you should request a hearing while we work on building your defense. Allow us to help you preserve your license and your freedom.