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.