If you are accused or convicted of a DUI, you have the right to seek an administrative hearing. An administrative hearing allows you to contest the suspension of your driver’s license.
You need to ask for this hearing quickly. As soon as you get a license suspension, check the issuance date on the paperwork. You only have 30 days following that issuance date to get a postmarked request for an administrative hearing in the mail.
What can you do to prepare for an administrative hearing?
If you request this hearing, you are allowed to do some limited discovery with your attorney. This helps you prepare by getting more information about the case in advance.
For example, you can ask for:
- Copies of documents showing the results of blood or Breathalyzer tests
- Copies of the affidavits showing that the officer is certified to use specific testing instruments
- Other documents that may be used to help make a case against you
You should know that the administrative hearing can be just as important as a criminal trial because PennDOT has the potential to suspend your license even if your criminal charges are dropped. PennDOT also has a different standard of proof than courtroom trials. With a hearing, PennDOT only has to have probable cause to suspend your license, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Keep in mind, too, that the PennDOT hearing officer is the judge during a hearing. This won’t be a criminal judge in the traditional court system. The officer who arrested you will be there to present the case.
A DUI hearing is the second half of a DUI charge
You know understand that a DUI hearing is really the second aspect of the same DUI charge. You will have both administrative and criminal issues to address, with administrative issues being handled through the administrative hearing process and criminal being handled through the criminal justice system. You should be prepared to protect yourself against the penalties that you could face in both of these systems because they don’t necessarily rely on each other to determine what’s fair for your situation.