A driver’s license is an important and often essential part of a person’s life, and when someone gets arrested for a DUI, continuing to drive legally is often at or near the top of that person’s list of concerns. The revocation of your driver’s license maybe isn’t as serious as jail time but it could mean the loss of a freedom that you’ve enjoyed for your entire adult life.
Having a basic understanding of what can happen with your driver’s license after being arrested for a DUI is imperative. It’s also important to hire an attorney who understands how to properly handle DOL hearings, licensing issues and how to keep you driving legally.
The DOL Hearing Process
If you’re arrested for a DUI, at the end of processing that charge, whether you’re being released to go home or booked into jail, you should be given a Department of Licensing (DOL) Hearing Request Form. The date of your arrest starts the 20 days clock for you to submit this form either through the mail or online to the DOL. The hearing generally costs $375.00, which must be paid at the time that the hearing is requested.
You can also apply for an indigency waiver (form available online) to request a waiver of this fee if your household income is sufficiently low. If you’re hiring a private attorney for your case this probably isn’t going to be an option for you, but it’s something worth talking to your attorney about.
If you don’t request a hearing within the 20 days period after your arrest, and assuming the officer submits the police report to the DOL, your license will be suspended starting on the 60th day after your arrest for DUI or Physical Control. Requesting a DOL hearing is important because if you don’t, you are essentially conceding to your license being suspended by the DOL. This suspension is different and separate from any suspension that could come later as the result of a conviction to a DUI or similar charge.
Once the DOL hearing is requested, either you or your attorney (depending on if you provided your attorney’s information in the DOL hearing request) will get a packet of paperwork with a date and time of the hearing, along with the police reports and any other evidence that will be used against you at the hearing. DOL hearings are held over the phone and your attorney can oftentimes take care of these hearings without your presence.
It is very important that you have an attorney help you with your DOL hearing. These hearings are not easy to win, and they involve essentially the same complex legal issues that your criminal DUI case will later entail. Trying to handle the hearing yourself is essentially throwing away $375.
Some attorneys will not recommend that you request a DOL hearing because they’d either rather not fight it or they’d prefer to concede defeat on that part of the case. At Russell & Hill, we 100% recommend that you DO contest the DOL action by requesting a hearing, and here are a couple of the reasons why…
Why You Should Request a DOL Hearing
The most obvious reason to ask for a DOL hearing is that if you don’t request one, you’re giving way to defeat and having your license taken from you. However, the second very important reason to contest the DOL’s action against you is that it can also help your criminal case eventually.
At Russell & Hill, we subpoena the officer in almost every DOL hearing that we handle. The only times we don’t subpoena are when we already have a winning issue on the case, where subpoenaing the officer is only going to mess up our well-calculated chances of success. When an officer is issued a subpoena for a DOL hearing, he is required to appear over the telephone. If he doesn’t show, his reports are suppressed and the DOL action against you will be dismissed. This is one obvious advantage, but there is another.
If the officer does show for the hearing, we have the opportunity to ask questions of the officer without the presence of the prosecuting attorney or any other individuals from the State who would be there to influence the officer’s testimony. DOL Hearings are recorded, and an officer’s testimony is sworn and made under the penalty of perjury. Often times these officers are coming off a night shift, haven’t read their reports, and are ill prepared to answer questions in the manner they normally would be for an in court appearance.
These officers will sometimes make astonishing admissions in these DOL hearings, and in turn, we’re able to use these statements and the information that we gather in these DOL hearings to advocate for better results in the criminal part of the case.
In essence, the impact and usefulness of a DOL hearing can reach far past just trying to win that actual hearing. It could mean an improved result on your case as a whole, and we’re willing to do anything to give you an advantage so that we can obtain the best result possible. The DOL hearing is important and contacting us soon after an arrest will allow us to properly prepare for this hearing so that we can set up your entire case for success.