DUI Charges & PennDOT Hearings
DUI charges in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania frequently involves two components: criminal and civil/administrative. The criminal aspect of a DUI charge takes place in court and ultimately, if a person is convicted or enters a guilty plea, a judge imposes a sentence involving jail or probation. The second aspect of a DUI charge in Pennsylvania has to do with a defendant’s driver’s license. In Pennsylvania, driver’s license suspensions are imposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) at what are deemed PennDOT hearings or PennDOT administrative hearings. PennDOT has the authority under the law to suspend a person’s driver’s license based on the result of the criminal case. That is, PennDOT will suspend a person’s license based on the DUI “tier” a person pleads guilty to and whether a person has prior DUIs in the past.
With this in mind, it is a wise move to retain our DUI lawyers to represent you at your PennDOT hearing.
Pennsylvania Implied Consent Laws
In Pennsylvania, every person who drives a motor vehicle is deemed to have given his or her consent to a chemical test of their blood, breath and/or urine so long as a police officer has reasonable grounds to request such a test. The legal justification for this is that driving is considered a “privilege” as opposed to a “right” (such as a person’s liberty). A person has the constitutional right to “refuse” to submit to such a test, but PennDOT will automatically suspend your license for at least one year in addition to any other DUI-related license suspension.
PennDOT license suspension appeals
According to Pennsylvania DUI law, you have a right to contest certain driver’s license suspensions. If PennDOT suspends your license as a result of a chemical test refusal, you have the right to appeal. An appeal will result in a civil hearing where PennDOT will have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence (as opposed to reasonable doubt) that you knowingly refused to submit to a chemical test. At the hearing, a judge will hear testimony from the police officer (and the motorist) and make a determination whether the case involved a knowing refusal. For a refusal to be upheld on appeal, a judge must find that the police properly advised the motorist of the consequences of refusing a chemical test. And, for a refusal to stand, PennDOT must be able to introduce sufficient evidence of a refusal (meaning that if the police officer fails to appear, a judge may dismiss the license suspension).
Several pertinent issues may arise at a PennDOT hearing:
- Who was driving the vehicle at time of arrest?
- Were you legally stopped by the police officer?
- Were you legally arrested by the police officer?
- Did the police officer have reasonable suspension to request a DUI chemical test?
- Did you take a Breathalyzer Test or undergo Field Sobriety Tests?
- Was any Breathalyzer test administered properly and legally?
- What was your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level?
- If the case involves a “refusal”, did the police advise you of the consequences of a refusal?
These are all issues our DUI defense attorneys will address in an all out effort to protect your right, driving privileges and reputation.
Contact A DUI Attorney Handling PennDOT Hearings
If you have been charged with a DUI, you should retain the services of a skilled, experienced DUI defense lawyer to help you navigate through this process. Contact our attorneys immediately if you are facing DUI charges and are concerned about losing your PennDOT driving privileges.