Michigan Drunk Driving - Administrative License SuspensionDriving in the state of Michigan is a privilege. If you are arrested for OWI or drunk driving the police officer has the legal right to ask you to submit to a chemical testing or a blood alcohol content test (BAC). Drivers who refuse to submit to the test will face not only criminal drunk driving penalties but also civil penalties.
What are the Administrative License Laws in Michigan?If you are arrested for drunk driving in the state of Michigan and you refuse to submit to the blood alcohol content test your license can be suspended by the Michigan Department of Secretary of State (DSS). This suspension is a result of violating Michigans Implied Consent Laws. Challenges to the administrative hearing can be made within 14 days of your drunk driving arrest. What if you do not challenge the administrative license suspension? You will have your license automatically suspended. The administrative proceeding is a civil procedure, and it is not related in any way to your impending criminal case. Consider, however, that the burden of proof is much lower than it will be at your criminal trial. The state needs only to prove that you are guilty through a preponderance of evidence. Keep in mind, it is up to the state to prove their case through statements, reports and testimony by the arresting officer. You also must attend the hearing. If you do not attend or you are late you may automatically lose your case. Many drivers hire OWI lawyers to fight the implied consent suspensions because it allows them a chance to hear the states evidence against their client and may help them build a stronger case to defend them at their criminal trial.
Administrative License Suspension Penalties in MichiganDrivers who do not request an administrative license review after their drunk driving arrest and who did not consent to the blood alcohol concent test will have their license suspended. The amount of time for the suspension after the OWI arrest will depend on whether this is the drivers first or second refusal. Automatic suspensions for blood alcohol concentration test refusals are one year for the first OWI arrest and 2 years for refusing the second blood alcohol content test within a seven year period. Drivers may be able receive a hardship license for a first blood alcohol content test refusal, but they will have to make their appeal to the Circuit Court and the appeal is not always successful.
How does my Administrative Hearing affect my Criminal Trial?Many Michigan drivers do not realize that although the issues discussed at both the administrative hearing and the criminal trial may be the same, the two cases have nothing to do with the each other. For instance, if at the administrative hearing the court determines that the drunk driving arrest was legal, this does not mean the same conclusion will be reached at the criminal drunk driving trial. Additionally, even if you win your administrative hearing, this does not mean that you will not ultimately be convicted of a Michigan drunk driving charge and you will have to face additional drunk driving criminal penalties and fines.
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