What Happens at a DUI Administrative Hearing?

In yesterday's blog posting I discussed the availability of the procedure to request an administrative hearing to challenge a DUI license suspension. This procedure applies to have a South Carolina Driver's License restored after a DUI arrest for a violation of the implied consent law for refusing to blow or blowing over a 0.15. This article is designed to provide some insight as to what actually occurs in an administrative hearing.

The first thing to understand when you are arrested for DUI and face an implied consent license suspension is that you actually have two cases to pursue. One is the criminal charge for DUI that will be resolved in Traffic Court. The other is the civil administrative case involving your license to be resolved in the office of motor vehicle hearings.

The main office for hearings is held in downtown Columbia. There are satellite locations throughout the State. The office is a division of the South Carolina Administrative Law Court. Hearings are provided over by a hearing officer. The hearing office does not wear a robe and hearings are held in something closer to a conference room than an actual courtroom.

The time to get to a hearing after one is scheduled will vary depending on the backlog of requests - but typically they are scheduled in 2-6 months. Your lawyer will be notified of the time and date for the hearing in advance. You should discuss with your lawyer whether or not you need to be present. If you do not have a lawyer you must appear or your hearing will be dismissed. If the police officer fails to appear you will automatically win your hearing.

The purpose of the hearing is to determine if the police officer followed the procedures spelled out in South Carolina's implied consent statute. The hearing does not determine if you are or are not guilty of DUI and the results of the hearing have little, if any, bearing on the outcome of your underlying criminal charge.

At the conclusion of the officer's presentation your lawyer will alert the hearing officer to any violations of the statute or otherwise a failure to establish the lawful basis for the suspension. The hearing officer will typically issue a written decision in the next 1-6 months (again depending on the backlog).

If you win the hearing you will not face an administrative suspension for your refusal to submit to the breathalyzer procedure or for having a BAC equal to or higher than 0.15. If you lose, and the officer's suspension is upheld, you will face a suspension. This will be in addition to the suspension you will receive if you are convicted in criminal Court of DUI. Because of this first time DUI offenders in South Carolina may face up to one year of a suspended driver's license.


James Snell is a South Carolina DUI Attorney. To discuss your DUI case contact his office 24 hours a day at 1-888-301-6004.

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