When and Why Is the Driver’s License Division Notified after an Arrest for DUI in Utah?
Interviewer: Today’s main focus is DUI and how it may affect driving privileges. If I were to get charged with a DUI or another traffic crime, when does the driver’s license division come into play?
You Must Request an Administrative Hearing at the Utah Driver’s License Division within 10 Calendar Days
Matthew Nebeker: When a person is arrested, cited for DUI, or driving with a measurable amount of a controlled substance in their system under Utah law, they have 10 days, and those are 10 calendar days from the date of the citation to request their administrative hearing with Utah driver’s license division.
When the driver’s license division receives that request, they are supposed to schedule a hearing for the driver and his counsel within 30 days to see whether they are going to take action, suspend, revoke, or disqualify the driver’s driving privilege. It’s very important to correctly follow that 10-day procedure after a DUI charge.
One of the main questions that I ask new clients is, “Have you sent that driver’s license request form in?” Or, “Please, let me help you send that request in.” It’s very important to get that hearing and conduct that hearing. A lot of valuable information can be obtained from that hearing and, in addition, the information could possibly get the license back for the driver.
Interviewer: The driver’s license division is that’s the same entity as the DMV?
Matthew Nebeker: That’s a little different in Utah. The Department of Motor Vehicles here in Utah, is who issue licenses plates and registrations. Once a driver cited for DUI, he or she has to contact the DMV also.
If Your Vehicle Is Impounded in the Course of a DUI Arrest, You Must Contact the Utah DMV for an Impound Release
If their car’s impounded, they have to contact Department of Motor Vehicles to get an impound release so they can go to the tow yard to get their vehicle back. During most DUI arrests, the officers will impound the vehicle and have it taken to an impound yard. They do have to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles, DMV, to get a release to get the out of impound.
Interviewer: So the driver’s license division, that’s the one that’s going to have the hearing. That’s the one that has to have the report to.
The Driver’s License Is Confiscated and the DUI Citation Issued by Law Enforcement Serves as a 30-Day Driver’s License
Matthew Nebeker: Yes. In Utah, the driver’s license division is the department that requires you to send in the hearing request within the 10 calendar days. Then they have to schedule it within 30 days. The reason they have to schedule it within the 30 days of the citation is because, and a lot of people don’t know this, is the citation itself, a lot of times, is the driver’s temporary license.
Usually the officers will confiscate their driver’s license. They’ll issue them the DUI citation, and that DUI citation then becomes the driver’s license for 30 days. During that 30-day period the driver will have the administrative hearing at driver’s license division to see whether the license is going to be returned or not.
Interviewer: So their actual license is no longer valid, the citation is going to be their temporary license right there then.
Out of State Drivers Do Not Have Their Licenses Confiscated
Matthew Nebeker: Yes. There’s one exception to that, and that’s if the driver has an out of state license. If they are here in Utah on vacation from Nevada or California, the arresting officer should not take their California license, but if it’s a Utah license they’ll take it.
In both cases, the citation will be the driver’s temporary driving privilege for 30 days, until the driver’s license division makes a determination on whether they’re going to return the license or they’re going to suspend or revoke.
If You Lose the Hearing at the Driver’s License Division, You May Request a Reconsideration of the Decision
Interviewer: What department has the ultimate say on someone’s license?
Matthew Nebeker: That’s quite a process in its self. Ultimately it’s a judge in one of the district courts. Let me explain a little bit how we get there. If we request the hearing and we go to the driver’s license division and we lose the hearing, then we have a right to ask for reconsideration of that decision. It’s like an appeal of the driver’s license suspension.
We can request that reconsideration or go through that appeal process. That’s still within the driver’s license division. It’s just a panel of people who work for driver’s license division, for example, some of them are former hearing officers. They’ll make a decision as a group to see whether they’re going to uphold the original hearing officer’s decision, or they’re going to overturn the original hearing officer’s decision.
If You Do Not Prevail at the Reconsideration, Your Attorney Files a Petition in District Court
If you lose that process, the next step in the process is to file a petition in the district court. That way you’ll be out of the driver’s license division’s jurisdiction and a district court, circuit court judge, someone who hears all kinds of cases will then hear the evidence and make a determination.
Typically, This Process Involves Drivers with Multiple Offenses or Commercial Drivers
It’s quite a road to get there, but ultimately, you can have a district court judge make a determination on your suspension or not. You only really see that happen when you get into subsequent offenses. For example, these are people that have refusals on a second offense, where their license could be suspended for three years or commercial drivers. Commercial drivers can face loss of employment if their CDL is suspended.
Those are the cases that we usually get to the district court judge. On a first offense, the suspension period for just a normal license, everyday driver, is 120 days. Usually the suspension time would be over by the time we got through the appeal process. It doesn’t really happen on first offense, with normal class licenses.