How to Defend a Suspended Driver’s License in Phoenix Arizona

by Aaron M. Black • January 04, 2021

Defend a Suspended Driver’s License in Phoenix & Scottsdale ArizonaAn arrest for driving impaired in Arizona will lead to your driver’s license being confiscated at the traffic stop and a license suspension will follow. But there is a process by which you can fight for your license.

The law allows you to have a fair and impartial hearing before an administrative law judge for you to present evidence in your defense and challenge the arrest. But time to act is short. You only have 15 days from the day police confiscated your driver’s license to request the Arizona Department of Transportation and Motor Vehicle Services (ADOT) for an administrative hearing.

You are allowed due process under Constitutional law so when you apply for a hearing the suspension of your license is stayed, meaning the suspension is delayed pending the result of the hearing. So for now your license remains valid.

Warning, if the request for a hearing is not timely-made, the suspension of your driver’s license becomes final and that means a lot of difficulty getting around.

The administrative hearing

Administrative law is different from criminal law in two basic ways. First, you cannot be incarcerated under administrative law but fines can be imposed as well as suspending your license. Second, administrative law involves the activities of government agencies not the behavior of people.

Similarities between these two branches of law are that you have every right to be represented by an attorney; and because your freedom of movement is threatened, you should use an attorney who is well-versed in this area of law instead of representing yourself.

Every case has a unique pattern of facts. The attorney can present a defense and challenge the testimony and credibility of the arresting officer, attack the physical evidence against you, and present mitigating evidence and other factors of importance involved.

Because your DUI case is a direct threat to your daily life of mobility, the administrative hearing is crucial and also may have a positive impact on the criminal case. The hearing is a forerunner of a trial and can identify strengths and weaknesses of your case.

ADOT’s Executive Hearing Office, established under Administrative Code Title 17, Article 5, is headed by the Chief Administrative Law Judge who assigns cases as well as the duties of the agency’s administrative law judges, all licensed in Arizona, and their staffs.

At the administrative hearing the judge will swear in witnesses under oath and question witnesses. Witnesses can be cross-examined. Unlike criminal law reliable hearsay is permitted. The judge considers the testimony and the evidence presented to make a ruling.

After the hearing the judge will issue a “Decision and Order” within 10 days.

Entitlement for a hearing

ADOT sends a Corrective Action Notice to the defendant in response to the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) regarding the license suspension. The notice states that the defendant is entitled to an administrative hearing and provides a timeframe for submitting a request for an administrative hearing, which must be in writing and include this information:
  • Full name and mailing address and telephone number
     
  • Arizona driver’s license number
     
  • Brief statement explaining why a hearing is requested
     
  • Request an interpreter if needed for the hearing
The hearing request can be mailed, delivered in person, sent by fax, or by using the agency’s web portal.

How hearings are held

Despite the pandemic the Executive Hearing Office remains open to the public and masks are mandatory at all ADOT buildings. Many hearings are being held over the phone, which has advantages and disadvantages. You do not have to appear in person but the defense cannot see the faces and body language of the arresting officer and other witnesses if any. But they cannot see yours either. Hearings are also held in person and held using video conferencing from other ADOT and Motor Vehicle Department locations.

The Executive Hearing Office cautions you to read the Notice of Hearing very carefully as it has all the important information about setting the hearing. For telephonic hearings, the notice has instructions for callback information before the hearing date.

Significance of implied consent

The administrative hearing situation stems from the implied consent law, Arizona Revised Statute § 28-1321.

When you apply for and sign your new driver’s license, you are contracting with the state. Driving is not a right, it is a privilege that is implied; so you are consenting to submit to taking sobriety tests under implied consent.

You do not have to be driving to be screened and arrested for impairment, which includes field sobriety testing and breathing into a machine that measures the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) to show you were above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. All the arresting officer needs to show is that you were in “actual physical control” of the vehicle. That has a variety of factors, such as the key was in the ignition.

Pre-trial insights

Testimony and evidence presented at the administrative hearing by the arresting officer can provide the defense with pre-trial insight. Did the prosecution’s witness commit a violation of civil rights. If the officer’s testimony has inconsistencies with previous reports, that can mean impeaching the officer at your DUI trial.

It is crucial to have qualified legal representation at the hearing.

Common DUI defenses in Phoenix and Scottsdale

Arizona law allows several defenses in DUI cases. These are:
  • The officer did not have probable cause or a reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop
     
  • The officer failed to recite the Miranda rights to remain silent and have an attorney during interrogation
     
  • Inaccuracy of breath, blood and urine test results
     
  • Field sobriety tests administered improperly
     
  • The defendant’s physical issues eschewed the field sobriety tests
     
  • The officer violated police procedures

Free, confidential case assessment

Learn about your options by promptly taking advantage of my free and confidential legal assessment of the charges you are facing. Call 480-729-1683 to schedule your consultation without any obligation to hire me to defend your license. During the pandemic, we can meet online using FaceTime and we can communicate over the phone, by text and on email.
I will prepare the necessary paperwork and construct a defense for the hearing.

I have a strong record of presenting an aggressive defense in DUI and other criminal charges, and I provide personalized service. You will always be speaking with me, never an assistant.

I defend clients at administrative hearings and at trial in Maricopa and its surrounding counties.

 
In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, I wanted to inform clients and potential clients I am still available for consultations. I am always available by phone, text and/or email. We can also use Facetime for social distancing. The criminal justice system is not stopping due to COVID-19.


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