Arkansas Administrative Hearings to Contest Suspension of Driver’s Licenses

If you have been cited or arrested in Arkansas with with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Underage Driving Under the Influence (DUI), DWI in a Commercial Vehicle in Arkansas, or Minor in Possession of Alcohol, it is a requirement that the police seize your Driver’s License and issue you a temporary license that only lasts 30 days.

This temporary Arkansas license is that pink sheet of paper they gave you. Behind that piece of paper is another piece of paper where you can request a hearing to contest the suspension of your Arkansas license. You only have 7 calendar days to fill out that request form and get it to Driver Control in Little Rock. If you haven’t requested a hearing to contest the suspension, stop reading this blog and fax the request RIGHT NOW. Be sure the keep a record that the fax went through, or they might claim you never sent it. However, even if it has been over 7 days since your (Driving While Intoxicated) DWI or MIP (Minor in Possession of Alcohol) arrest, go ahead and send it off anyway, just as quickly as you can.

That piece of paper should say:

“Request for Administrative Hearing to Contest Suspension, Revocation or Disqualification of Driving Privilege or Request Restricted Driving Permit”

It should look like this (print this out if you lost yours):

Arkansas Request for Administrative Hearing to Contest Suspension Revocation or Disqualification of Driving Privilege or Request Restricted Driving Permit

You will want to to check the box at the bottom that says you want to CONTEST THE SUSPENSION. Even if you think the police have you “dead to rights,” do it. This hearing will give you or your attorney an opportunity to view some of the evidence against you, or maybe delay the suspension for a bit.

If you hire an attorney, the attorney can go to these hearings on your behalf, you are not required to be present, although very rarely it might help. Your attorney can call you during the hearing if your testimony is required.

Unless you are able to get an extension from Arkansas Driver Control, at the end of your 30 days you will either have no license, you will win your hearing and have your driving privileges restored, or you will have a “Restricted Arkansas License” depending on the nature of your charges and your criminal history.

If you continue to drive after the 30 days is up and are caught, you face a mandatory 10 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Some jurisdictions will agree to let you do 10 days of community service or an electronic ankle monitor, but most won’t, and even in the more lenient jurisdictions the prosecutor could decide to make an example out of you regardless of what they normally do in these cases.

How do you win Driver Control hearings?

The Arkansas Driver’s License Suspension Hearing is administrative, and therefore not a place where they allow you to make all of the same arguments you would normally make in court. For example, sometimes you can beat a DWI if an officer pulls you over for something that is not illegal. An example would be if you were pulled over for only having two rear view mirrors instead of three.  If that happens you can argue your 4th Amendment Rights have been violated and all evidence must be excluded. However, in these administrative hearings the judges or “hearing officers” won’t consider Constitutional arguments. Although they should and you have the right to appeal to the Circuit Court and make those arguments to a Circuit Court Judge.

At the hearing, the police officer that arrested you will not be present, only a written report of his account will be used as evidence against you. If the police officer has not given the report to Driver Control that is not a reason to give you your license back or “win” the hearing. The case will just be moved back until the hearing officer gets sick of waiting on it.

The report has to provide a basis for the conviction of whatever charges you were facing. So if this hearing is because of DWI, they have to prove that you were driving a vehicle. They can do that by referring to a report where one of the following boxes will be most likely be checked:

  1. I saw the defendant driving.
  2. The defendant admitted to driving.
  3. Other.

They would also have to prove that you were intoxicated in some way. If you were charged with DWI – Drugs, all they have to prove is that you had something in your system that COULD be intoxicating. Even if it is an extremely low level, or you have a prescription for it, etc. You could pass the field sobriety tests and stump the Drug Recognition Expert and still lose the hearing. For alcohol, they have to prove that you had a certain amount in your system or that you failed that field sobriety tests, or base the suspension on something else (like the fact that you wrecked your car and smelled strongly of alcohol).

What if you lose your Driver Control hearing?

If you were charged with DWI or DUI, I wrote an entirely separate blog about that, you can see it here.

If it was for Minor in Possession of Alcohol, you can get a restricted driver’s license that allows you to drive to and from court, to and from class, to and from work, to and from church, and to and from AA meetings. Other places may be considered but you need to consult with the Driver Control Hearing Officer or your attorney.

If You Appeal the License Suspension or Driver’s License Restriction Hearing, You May NEVER have your Driver’s License Suspended or be required to install an Interlock Device

After your hearing, you may petition a court to overturn the ruling of the hearing. If you appeal you may be able to postpone the installation of the interlock device in your vehicle or prevent it entirely (if you eventually beat the DWI charge). This can be particularly helpful if you have a Commercial Driver’s License. In order to do this, you must immediately appeal the administrative decision to suspend or restrict your Arkansas driver’s license to a Circuit Court where you reside or where the DWI occurred. Technically, you have to appeal the administrative hearing suspending your driver’s license within 30 days, but the sooner the better because your license will be suspended 30 days after your DWI arrest.

When you appeal, you should ask the judge to “stay” (postpone) your suspension, and hope the judge signs it before your license is suspended or restricted. Eventually, you may have a hearing on whether or not you are guilty of the DWI. Note that that is completely separate from your criminal case. You should try to convince the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration attorney or judge to push this off until the resolution of your DWI. If you lose your DWI case they will suspend or restrict your license. If you win, then your license could potentially never be suspended or restricted.

These are complicated issues and I’m leaving out a lot of details. If you have been charged with DWI anywhere in Arkansas, including Fayetteville, Fort Smith, and Van Buren, call one of our Arkansas criminal defense lawyers at:

(479) 782-1125 or send us an email at [email protected]

How do I get my license back after the hearing?

At the end of the suspension period the defendant does not get their license sent back to them. The Defendant has to pay a fee to Driver Control in Little Rock and then go to the Local DMV and get a new license. Currently, that reinstatement fee is $150 for DWIs and $125 for other license suspensions due to possession of a controlled substance or minor in possession of alcohol.

For more information see:

Arkansas DWI Interlock Waiver: This is the proposed statute that was not passed, the final statute that was passed, and a legal memo circulated by the Arkansas Department of Finance Administration through Arkansas Driver Control.

Driver Control Information and Frequently Asked Questions about License Suspensions, Revocations, and Restrictions:

http://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/offices/driverServices/Pages/DriverControl.aspx

Where to buy a brilliant interlock device disguise so you aren’t embarrassed driving to work or picking your kids up from school: http://www.ignitioninterlockdisguise.com/

Fayetteville, Arkansas Driver Control: https://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/office-locations/details/fayetteville-revenue-office

Fort Smith, Arkansas Driver Control: https://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/office-locations/details/fort-smith-driver-control-office

This is a complex area of law that is rapidly changing. Please don’t rely on this blog for legal advice, call me to make sure it is accurate and up to date. I’m not your attorney and I do not represent you.

Comments

comments