1. The DPSC DWI Administrative Hearing Process after a Motorist’s Driver’s License is Suspended in Louisiana
The Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSC) DWI Administrative Hearing Process after a motorist’s driver’s License is suspended in Louisiana law requires the DPSC Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) to suspend a person’s driver’s license if the person is arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, that is, when the person was driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater, or when the person refuses a chemical test upon arrest. This DPSC administrative hearing is a separate process from the criminal action that may be brought against a motorist for driving while intoxicated (DWI ). In Louisiana, there are actually two statutory schemes that a driver who is arrested for DWI faces: (1) the civil process where a person’s driver’s license may be suspended; and (2) the criminal process where a driver who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more can be prosecuted for DWI. Both statutory schemes proceed independently of the other, and the outcome of one action is of no consequence in the other. In other words, a motorist’s driver’s license can be suspended civilly although the motorist may not be prosecuted for DWI. Further, the motorist may be prosecuted for DWI even though his license is not suspended civilly. To learn more about the administrative hearing, go to the web site of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections .
2. What Happens to the Motorist’s License after the Arrest for DWI/DUI?
When a law enforcement officer arrests a person for DWI, the officer will seize the motorist’s driver’s license and issue the motorist a temporary receipt of license on a form approved by the DPSC. This receipt allows the driver the right to operate a motor vehicle upon the public highways of Louisiana for a period not to exceed 30 days from the date of arrest . The temporary receipt provides notice to the driver that he has not more than 30 days from the date of arrest to make a written request to the DPSC for an administrative hearing.
3. After an Arrest for DWI, What Happens to the Motorist’s Vehicle?
After a motorist is arrested for DWI, he has a right to allow a passenger in the vehicle who is not under the influence of alcohol who has a driver’s license to take control of the vehicle. If the vehicle does not create a hazard or obstruction to traffic or the motoring public, and if there is no passenger in the vehicle with a valid driver’s license and who is not under the influence of alcohol, the officer, before ordering or procuring a towing service, shall allow the arrested motorist a reasonable time and opportunity to contact another person to take possession or control of his vehicle.
4. Who Conducts the Administrative Hearings for DWI License Suspensions?
The administrative hearings are conducted by administrative law judges who are employed by the Louisiana Division of Administrative Law.
5. What Happens at the Administrative Hearings for DWI License Suspensions?
When the administrative hearing occurs, law enforcement officer usually do not testify at the administrative hearing. The Administrative Law Judge will begin the hearing by introducing the records of the DPSC or other such evidence as will show whether the license should be suspended or returned to the motorist. These documents will usually include:
(1) the DPSC Certification of Arrest Report,
(2) the Arrestee’s Rights Form,
(3) the Intoxilyzer Check List,
(4) the Office of State Police Certificate of Inspection Instrument Recertification Form,
(5) the results of the Intoxilyzer Breath Test,
(6) the results of field sobriety tests given,
(7) the Arrest Report and Probable Cause Affidavit, and
(8) the Charge Disposition Report.
Although police officers do not usually testify at administrative hearings, attorneys are allowed to call their clients and other witnesses who can contest the findings of the arresting officer or other officers on the scene of the arrest. Further, when the DPSC records are introduced by the administrative law judge, the motorist’s lawyer will usually object to the admissibility of these documents on the grounds that they are hearsay, incompetent evidence, and that they are not authenticated. However, the administrative law judge will usually overrule these objections and these documents are admitted at the administrative hearing notwithstanding the hearsay and authentication issues.
6. What Do the Documents from the DPSC Show at the DWI Administrative Hearing?
The documents from the DPSC will contain the affidavit of the arresting officer where the officer describes his observations of the motorist’s driving and behavior that led him to suspect that the motorist was driving under the influence of alcohol. The documents will describe the field sobriety tests given to the motorist as well as a recitation of the facts that led to the motorist’s arrest.
7. What Issues are Determined by the Administrative Law Judge at the Administrative Hearing?
(1) Whether a law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe the motorist had been driving or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle upon the public highways of this state.
(2) Whether the motorist was placed under arrest.
(3) Whether the motorist was advised of his rights by the office?
(4) Whether the motorist voluntarily submitted to an approved chemical test and whether the test resulted in a blood alcohol reading of 0.08 % or above by weight, or of 0.02 % or above if the motorist was under the age of 21 years on the date of the test.
(5) Whether the motorist refused to submit to the test upon the request of the officer.
The Administrative Law Judge will not usually render a decision at the hearing. The Judge will issue a written decision within thirty days of the hearing that either recalls or sets aside the suspension or affirms the decision of the DPSC to suspend the motorist’s license.
8. What Options Does the Motorist Have if his License is Suspended by the Administrative Law Judge?
If the suspension is upheld by the administrative law judge, the motorist has a right to file a petition in the appropriate civil district court. The motorist has 30 days from the date he received the written decision of the Administrative Law Judge to file a petition for judicial review with the civil district court. If the motorist does not file a petition for judicial review with the civil district court within thirty days, the order of suspension will become a final one. For more information on Louisiana DWI laws, click here.
If you are in need of a DWI/DUI, criminal defense, expungement, or personal injury lawyer, please contact Gaynell Williams today at 504-302-2462 for an appointment so that an aggressive criminal and personal injury lawyer who will be committed to your case can assist you today. Evenings and weekend sessions are available by appointment. We will work around your schedule.
This information has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please consult your attorneys in connection with any specific situation under federal and/or Louisiana law and the applicable state or local laws that may impose additional obligations on you and/or your family member. © 2017 Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law. Published December 14, 2017.