New York has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to driving while intoxicated. They impose strict penalties on those who are found guilty of the offense. In order for the state to have evidence that you were actually driving while intoxicated, though, they the arresting officer usually asks you to consent to a blood alcohol test. You might have refused this test, and if you did, the DMV will usually impose an administrative suspension on your license that makes it so that you can’t legally drive unless you apply for and get granted a hardship license.
Implied Consent Law
Many people refuse to submit to BAC tests because it used to be that when the State didn’t have chemical evidence proving that your BAC was over the legal limit of 0.08%, then your case would get thrown out for insufficient evidence. Some people were essentially getting away with drunk driving, so states like New York sought to rectify this by imposing implied consent laws on citizens. Implied consent makes it so that if you refuse to consent to a BAC, there will be some backlash from the DMV, if not from the judicial system.
Report of Refusal
However, maybe you really hadn’t been drinking, or maybe you just felt like your rights were being violated. Just because you didn’t submit to a BAC test doesn’t necessarily mean that your side of the story can’t be heard because it can. When a “Report of Refusal” is filed, you are given a chance to tell your side of things if you request a “Refusal Hearing.”
What is a Refusal Hearing?
A “Refusal Hearing” is an administrative hearing where you get to go before the people in charge of suspending your license and plead your side of why you refused to take the BAC test. A Refusal Hearing is separate from any criminal charges you’re facing – it’s purely administrative, and it is beneficial for you to at least try to state your case at the Refusal Hearing because if you win the hearing, it could have some bearing on your criminal case’s outcome. It would also make your life so much easier since you wouldn’t have to go through the trouble of getting a hardship license until your case is settled.
You Need an Attorney
There is a lower standard of proof required at an administrative hearing than is required in a criminal hearing. This means that what the police officer submits as his word, which is usually just termed as heresay without further evidence in a criminal court, will be admissible in an administrative hearing. This makes it more important than ever that you have a DWI attorney present to represent you throughout your administrative hearing.
Ways an Attorney Can Help
There are numerous ways that an attorney can help you throughout your administrative hearing. First of all, they’ll throw doubt on the police officer’s character and question whether or not the police officer had plausible cause to stop you in the first place. If the police officer didn’t have enough reason to believe that you were indeed driving while intoxicated, then the arrest might have been unlawful. Your attorney will also explore to find out if the police officer clearly warned you that failure to submit to a BAC test would result in an automatic license suspension. If the officer didn’t do that, then that could also affect the outcome of the administrative hearing.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that you should never go into an administrative hearing alone. It’s hard enough to win an administrative hearing since the burden of proof isn’t as high as it is in criminal court, but it’s doubly so without a lawyer who has the skills necessary to get the people in charge to doubt the law enforcement officer’s testimony. One thing you’ll have going for you is that the law enforcement officer will not have an attorney present, and if the officer fails to show up, then your case will be sojourned at a later date and your privileges will be reinstated until them. If the police officer fails to show a second time, then you’ll win your administrative hearing by default.