An officer’s investigation into your DUI doesn’t end with your arrest. If you are arrested for DUI, the officer will typically ask that you submit to a blood, breath, or urine test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). If you refuse the test, your license will be suspended for at least 12 months (unless you successfully challenge the arrest later.)
Arizona’s implied consent law allows the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend your license when you’ve refused to take a DUI chemical test. The gist of this law is that you consent to BAC testing when you’re issued a driver’s license in Arizona. And if you withdraw your consent after a lawful DUI arrest, the DMV will suspend your license.
If you refuse a BAC test, the officer still has tools to investigate your BAC. The officer can apply for a search warrant from a judge. If issued, the search warrant authorizes the officer to take your blood for testing.
For the refusal, the officer will give you an “order of suspension” that results in the suspension your license 15 days from the date of your arrest. The officer will also immediately seize your license or permit. The suspension period is 12 months for a first refusal and 24 months for a second or subsequent refusal within seven years.
You can challenge an administrative suspension by requesting a hearing in writing within 15 days of the arrest. One of the benefits of requesting a hearing is you can still legally drive until the hearing is held.
At the hearing, the officer must show up (in person or by telephone) and testify before the hearing officer as to what occurred. The officer must prove certain factors, or the hearing officer is supposed to overturn the suspension. You can also beat the suspension if the officer doesn’t show up.
Reasonable grounds to believe you were DUI. To uphold the suspension, the DMV hearing officer must find the officer had reasonable grounds to believe that you were driving or were in actual physical control of a car while under the influence. For motorists under the age of 21, there just needs to be reasonable ground that the motorist had any amount of alcohol in his or her body.
Proof of refusal. At the hearing, the officer also needs to prove that you refused the test. Typically, proving refusal just involves the officer explaining the driver would not agree to take the test after being asked to do so and warned of the refusal consequences.
Required warnings. If you refuse to take the test, the officer is required to inform you that your license or permit to drive will be suspended for 12 months (or for two years for a second refusal within seven years) unless you agree to submit to and successfully complete the tests. If you can prove at the hearing that the officer failed to give this warning, the hearing officer is supposed to overturn your suspension.
Required notices. At the time of your arrest, the officer is required to give you an order of suspension that provides you notice of your right to request a hearing. If you can prove at the hearing that the officer failed to give you this order of suspension at the time of your arrest, you may be able to beat the suspension.
If the hearing officer upholds the suspension, you get one more crack at challenging it. You have 30 days from the date the DMV upheld your suspension to file a petition with the superior court to review the DMV’s decision.
If the DMV suspends your license for a refusal, you’ll have to wait the 12 or 24 months before applying for reinstatement. You’ll also have to provide proof that you completed an alcohol or drug screening before the DMV can reinstate your license.