Administrative License Suspension
Administrative license suspension laws are in effect in 41 states. These laws give law enforcement officials the right to take away a driver’s license. There are two circumstances under which the administrative license suspension law may be enforced.
The first circumstance is if a driver refuses to take a chemical test to determine his or her blood alcohol level. The implied consent law states that anyone who operates a motor vehicle agrees beforehand to submit to an alcohol test.
The second reason a license may be automatically suspended is if the driver fails an alcohol chemical test, meaning that his or her blood alcohol content level is .08% or higher.
Laws concerning administrative license suspension were developed as an immediate way to remove any person who drives impaired from the roadways. This is believed to help reduce the number of alcohol-related violations and crashes.
The law applies both to first-time and repeat offenders. However, since the law applies to people who refuse to take a chemical test and anyone else who is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, an administrative license suspension does not mean that the person has been convicted of the crime.
A driver is notified of an administrative suspension and is issued a temporary permit to drive. The permit is usually only valid for as little as a week and as long as 90 days. During this time, the driver has the right to challenge the suspension. However, if the driver opts not to challenge it, or if the courts uphold the suspension, the person’s license is suspended for a specific period of time.
Each state has the right to determine the length of time a temporary license lasts, the period within which a hearing must be held, and the length of suspension. States can impose a suspension for as little as two days to as long as one year for first time offenders. Most states choose to suspend licenses for 90 days.
If a driver is a repeat offender or refuses to submit to an alcohol test, longer suspensions are enforced. During a license suspension, some states allow offenders to hold hardship licenses which permit them to drive to work if there is a special need. One such example is being the family’s sole source of income.
Drivers who have had their licenses suspended are not exempt from other penalties. The same laws regarding jail time, fines, community service, alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs, and any other penalties still apply.