We’ve been speaking in our last couple posts about the administrative sanctions associated with drunken driving cases, specifically driver’s license suspensions and how a motorist goes about challenging them. As we noted, the scope of a license suspension hearing is more narrow compared to the issues that can be brought up in a criminal trial, though there is some overlap.
One of the issues that administrative law judges consider in hearings is whether the police officer who cited the motorist had reasonable grounds to believe he or she was driving or attempting to drive while under the influence, or impairment, of drugs or alcohol, as well as whether there was any evidence of alcohol or drug use.
In cases involving a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or above, or 0.15 or above, the judge will also consider the evidence supporting the contention that the motorist drove or attempted to drive a motor vehicle at that level of intoxication. In cases involving a chemical test refusal, the judge considers whether the evidence shows that the officer properly warned the driver of the penalties associated with a test refusal or a failed test and that the officer requested the test.
One important thing to remember is that a license suspension hearing, even when it is connected to a criminal case, is not itself a criminal proceeding. Because of this, the judges in charge of the process have a lower burden of proof to consider than judges in criminal proceedings.
Advocating for oneself with respect to these issues is not necessarily easy, particularly for those who do not understand the process or their rights. Because of this, it is important to work with an experienced defense attorney to help build the best case possible in order to minimize consequences.