Daniel Hynes

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No license loss for a DWI arrest

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Just about every one who contacts me after being arrested for DWI wants to keep their license. This is very difficult to do, but not impossible. In order to keep your license, the first step if you refused a breath or blood test, or tested above the legal limit, is to request an administrative license suspension hearing. If you do not do that within 30 days you will lose your license for 6 months or 2 years, even if you are found not guilty of DWI.

Requesting the hearing is the easy part. Winning the hearing is more difficult. The cop basically has to show it is more likely than not that you refused the test or tested above the legal limit. The police do not have to show you were drunk or under the influence.

However, there are some other things the state must prove. I have won these license suspension hearings by showing: the driver was not on a public way, lack of jurisdiction, the officer gave improper legal advice, the blood test was not above the legal limit, the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to believe the driver was impaired, the officer or intoxilyzer were not properly certified, a proper 20 minute observation period was not followed, the person did not actually refuse the requested test, the driver was confused regarding the consequences of the refusal due in part to conduct by the officer, and the officer did not properly advise of ALS rights.

If we are able to win the administrative license suspension hearing, the next step to keep your license is to win the criminal case. Even if we win the administrative hearing, the prosecutor will still go forward with the criminal charge. Sometimes the charge can be reduced to reckless driving, which avoids a DWI conviction, but it still has a 60 day loss of license. Even more rare is a plea offer to something less, such as negligent driving, a non driving offense, or a flat out dismissal.  You are much more likely to be found not guilty at trial with a good dwi lawyer than you are to be offered a plea that has no license loss.

Assuming there is no plea offer with a license loss, you will have to go to trial and be found not guilty in order to keep your license.

While it is extremely difficult to have no license loss, hiring a DWI lawyer will give you the best chance of obtaining that result (or an outcome that is not a dwi conviction). Just today I was able to have a DWI dismissed to a non-motor vehicle violation. The driver kept her license (and previously did not lose her license administratively). So, when a prosecutor says they are offering the minimum license loss for a DWI conviction (90 days), the real minimum license loss is zero.

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