South Carolina DUI Attorney:
An Administrative Hearing is an entirely separate ADMINISTRATIVE (not criminal) proceeding to determine whether or not the suspension of your Drivers’ License after your arrest for a DUI or DUAC was correctly handled by the Arresting Officer and/or Data Master Operator. The basis of an Administrative Hearing is the presumption that when you obtained your South Carolina Drivers’ License, that you agreed to provide a breath, urine or blood sample to any law enforcement agency upon a their request.
By requesting a TARL (Temporary Alcohol Restricted License) to temporarily resume your privilege to drive, you are also requesting an Administrative Hearing to be held in order to challenge the initial suspension of your driving privileges. This is a very, very useful tool for an experienced attorney.
You only need to request an Administrative Hearing if your Driver’s License has been suspended. This suspension has occurred for one of two reasons:
1) You were deemed to have Refused to provide a breath, urine or blood sample upon the officer’s lawful request; or
2) The sample you provided registered a .15 or greater, resulting in the suspension.
An Administrative Hearing is an extremely important piece of the DUI process for the experienced DUI Defense Attorney!
An Administrative Hearing is an Official Hearing in front of an Administrative Hearing Officer, who is often an attorney, who presides over that Hearing. The Arresting Officer and the Data Master Operator, including any other witnesses for the State, will be sworn under oath to provide truthful testimony.
By the time an Administrative Hearing takes place, we have normally received responses to our Discovery requests and have reviewed the majority of the evidence, including the In-Car/Police Car Dash, body camera and Datamaster videos, which comprise the majority of the prosecution’s case against you. We have had the opportunity to review the applicable case law and possible challenges for the specifics of your particular stop and arrest. Different procedures, policies and case law apply depending on whether your initial contact with the police was a result of a traffic stop, a roadblock (license checkpoint), traffic accident or a visit to your home several hours later. We know the rules and procedures that the police must follow.
This hearing is extremely important as it allows the experienced DUI Defense attorney an opportunity to question the witnesses in great detail; especially in the areas we might have seen possible weaknesses. Among other things, we aggressively question the Arresting Officer in regard to the probable cause for the stop, the sequence of questioning, any and all Field Sobriety Tests and the specific conditions of how they were conducted. We also challenge the procedure followed and the documents introduced into evidence. Often times the testimony we elicit from the Arresting Officer and/or the Data Master operator at the Administrative Hearing reveals the Fatal Flaws that can be used to negotiate a lesser charge or result in an outright Dismissal of the DUI at or before the Criminal Trial.
Almost equally as important is the fact that the Administrative Hearing allows your attorney the opportunity to gauge the skill and experience of the officers involved in your arrest. The Administrative Hearing is a very valuable opportunity to see how each officer will likely perform (testify) if the matter proceeds to a jury trial. Often times a strong showing at the Administrative Hearing by your attorney will prompt the arresting officer to be “more flexible” in regard to the charges, rather than face the possibility of having his handling of the matter openly questioned and maybe lose the DUI trial.
We, of course, are polite and professional and understand the need to gently point out flaws to the officers if they appear to be receptive to a modification of the DUI charge that will work to our client’s benefit. Our goal is to obtain the best result for our client without unnecessarily putting them through the risk, embarrassment and uncertainty of a jury trial. This is possible in most cases.
Occasionally, after a successful Administrative Hearing where several strong arguments are made by your attorney, that the officer is very willing to accept the suggestion of a dismissal of the DUI and offer a plea to a reduced charge.
The Defendant is not required to be present or to testify at the Administrative Hearing. We prefer our clients to be absent from the Hearings, so as not to trigger any independent recollection to the officers, whereby they may include in their testimony something not otherwise noted in the original report, that hurts our client. We also understand that a client would generally rather be any place other than a courtroom with their arresting officer.
The Administrative Hearing Officer will generally make a decision within thirty (30) days, depending on their caseload and travel schedule.
If Defense counsel has been successful in challenging the suspension of the Defendant’s Driver’s License, then upon issuance of the Order Rescinding the Suspension, the Defendant may then obtain their regular South Carolina Driver’s License, without restrictions. This license is valid indefinitely unless, of course, it is ultimately suspended as a result of a DUI or DUAC conviction on the remaining criminal charges.
If the experienced officers are successful and the Hearing Officer upholds the suspension of the Defendant’s Driver’s License, then we may be able to assist the defendant in obtaining a Route-Restricted driver’s license or an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) to enable you to drive legally for the duration of your suspension.
The Importance of the Administrative Hearing: In either of the above instances, the Administrative Hearing will have provided very valuable insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the State’s case against the Defendant. The officers and other witnesses have had their testimony presented on the record and cannot change that testimony at trial without serious recourse. The officers have to testify consistently in regard to each and every fact that led to your arrest. If their testimony changes from the Administrative Hearing to the Motion Hearing or Jury Trial, then their credibility in regard to the entire case comes into question. An experienced DUI attorney can use these small inconsistencies to benefit his client!
Please contact us immediately if you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI or a related offense. You may reach us by phone at 843-971-0099; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by clicking here to contact us for a free case evaluation.