Colorado imposes severe criminal penalties for drunk driving convictions. Potential penalties include probation, jail time, and monetary fines. Additionally, the Colorado Department of Revenue Hearing’s Section (DMV) can administratively revoke your driver’s license by meeting a much lower burden of proof than the prosecution must meet to convict you of DUI. Since the burden of proof is much lower, you can use your right to a DMV hearing as an opportunity to fight the license suspension. However, you lose your right to request a hearing if you do not do so within seven days of your arrest. So you must act fast.
Some people do not realize they can request a hearing to challenge the suspension of their driver’s license. A qualified criminal defense lawyer can request the hearing on your behalf and represent you at the hearing. Losing your driving privileges can affect your livelihood and other aspects of your life. Contact Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., today so we can help.
What Is a DMV Administrative Hearing?
The suspension of your driver’s license after a drunk driving arrest is separate from the potential criminal penalties associated with being convicted for the charge. After a drunk driving arrest, the arresting officer will confiscate your driver’s license if you either took a breath test that was over the legal limit or if you refused chemical testing. If one of the aforementioned scenarios applies, you have seven days to request a DMV hearing to dispute the license suspension. Even though the DMV hearing is an administrative proceeding (and not a criminal one), you can still hire an attorney to represent you in the hearing and fight for the reinstatement of your license.
How Long Will I Lose My License If I Do Not Request a DMV Hearing?
The length of your license suspension will depend on whether you have prior drunk driving convictions on your record. The maximum suspension periods are:
- Nine months for a first drunk driving conviction;
- One year if you have one prior drunk driving conviction; and
- Two years if you have two prior drunk driving convictions.
If you took a breath test and were found to be over the legal limit, you can immediately qualify for early reinstatement of your driving privilege.
If you refused to take a chemical test, you will be required to wait sixty (60) days prior to seeking an early reinstatement of your driving privilege. The suspension periods slightly change if you refuse to provide a chemical sample in violation of Colorado’s express consent law. The suspension periods are:
- One year for a first refusal charge;
- Two years if you have one prior refusal conviction; and
- Three years if you have two prior refusals.
You will be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle as a condition of early reinstatement. If your blood alcohol content was over the legal limit but below .150, you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your motor vehicle for 9 months (as early as four months if you are compliant with the terms of your interlock). If your blood alcohol content was above .150 or you refused chemical testing, this places you into a category entitled Persistent Drunk Driver. This will require a two year ignition interlock requirement.
How Does a DMV Hearing Differ from a Drunk Driving Trial?
As stated above, the criminal process for a drunk driving charge is separate from the DMV’s administrative suspension of your driver’s license. The prosecutor in a criminal trial must prove your charges beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you. However, the DMV only requires proof by a preponderance of the evidence. Additionally, the DMV hearing is bound by the Colorado Rules of Administrative Procedure, which are typically more relaxed than rules of criminal procedure.
Potential Defenses in a DMV Hearing for DUI
Even though the burden of proof in DMV hearings is lower, it is still worth requesting a hearing and trying to fight the loss of your driver’s license. The DMV Hearing Officer is looking for proof of one of the following:
- You were operating a vehicle with a blood or breath alcohol content of .08% or higher, or
- You refused to take a chemical test when an officer had probable cause to suspect you committed an alcohol or drug-related offense.
Some legal defenses can affect whether the DMV can revoke your driver’s license. Potential defenses available in a DMV hearing include:
- Someone else was operating the vehicle,
- The officer lacked reasonable suspicion to pull you over,
- The chemical test was conducted more than two hours after your arrest, or
- Your blood or breath sample was collected incorrectly or tampered with.
A skilled defense lawyer can review the details of your case and determine whether a valid legal defense applies.
Frequently Asked Questions About DMV License Revocations and Reinstatements
The revocation periods and procedures for reinstatement differ based on the alleged crime committed and the defendant’s prior convictions. We provided some answers to common questions about the DMV administrative process.
What Is Reinstatement?
Reinstatement is the process of restoring your driving privileges after your license is suspended. You can reinstate your driving privileges early by installing an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, or you can serve the entire revocation period and avoid the ignition interlock requirement (if your blood alcohol content was below .150).
What Is an Ignition Interlock Device, and When Is One Required?
An ignition interlock device (IID) is a portable breathalyzer that is wired into the ignition system of a vehicle. The driver must blow a clean breath sample into the IID to get their vehicle to start.
You can apply for the early reinstatement of your driving privileges immediately after a DUI arrest if you install an IID on your vehicle. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test, you can seek early reinstatement after two months if you install an IID on your vehicle. You are responsible for installing and maintaining the IID, adding another financial consequence to a drunk driving charge.
Contact Colorado DMV Hearing Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case
Losing your driver’s license can affect many facets of your everyday life. Unfortunately, if you do not request a DMV hearing within seven days of your arrest, you can lose your right to contest the suspension of your license. When you seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney immediately after your arrest, your attorney can request the DMV hearing and present a legal defense on your behalf if one applies to your case.
At Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., you are more than just another case—you are a valued client whose freedom and reputation are worth defending. My vast experience representing individuals facing drunk driving charges gives me in-depth knowledge about the DMV hearing process. I pride myself on providing you with compassion, honest advice, and an aggressive, effective legal strategy. Contact Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., today to talk to a member of our team.