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Understanding more about DWI and license suspension

In the immediate aftermath of an arrest for driving while intoxicated, it's understandable if your foremost concern is whether you will have to spend any amount of time behind bars. After all, incarceration could mean time away from school, work and, most significantly, family.

However, once things begin to settle down, it's likely that other more practical questions and concerns will start to emerge, including whether you will be able to continue driving. 

What happens concerning my driving privileges following a DWI arrest?

Subsequent to the arrest, a law enforcement official will confiscate your driver's license and supply you with a document entitled the Official Driver’s License Receipt and Notice of Suspension/Revocation of Driving Privilege.

What's the purpose of this official Notice?

Among other things, it outlines how you will have exactly seven days to request an administrative hearing with Driver Control, where it will be determined whether you refused a blood alcohol content test, and/or drove with a BAC of .08 or higher.  

Since the law enforcement official confiscated my driver's license does this mean I can't drive?

If you were in possession of a valid driver's license prior to your arrest, the Notice will grant you the right to drive for the next 30 days.

What happens if the administrative hearing results in a finding that I did refuse the BAC test or that I was driving while intoxicated?

If you were found to have refused the BAC test or been driving while intoxicated, you will face a license suspension. The length of the suspension, however, will depend on the number of prior offenses.

  • First offense DWI will result in a six-month suspension and/or 180 days for first offense BAC test refusal.
  • Second offense DWI or BAC test refusal within five years will result in a 24-month suspension.
  • Third offense DWI or BAC test refusal within five years will result in a 36-month suspension.
  • Fourth offense DWI within five years will result in a 48-month revocation.  
  • Fourth offense BAC test refusal within five years will result in permanent revocation.

What about license reinstatement?

Reinstatement of a driver's license is dependent upon your completion of a treatment program or alcohol education program, and payment of a reinstatement fee ($150 per offense). It should also be noted that an ignition interlock device will have to be installed for a period commensurate with the suspension period for first, second and third DWI offenses.

To learn more about this complex process and ensure that your rights are fully protected, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible after a DWI arrest.

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