DMV Regulation

Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Regulation of Alcohol and Drug Related Traffic Offenses

The DMV is an administrative division of the Department of Revenue. DMV driver’s license consequences are in addition to the consequences in your criminal DUI case. This is clearly double punishment for the same crime. Although it certainly seems unfair, unfair or not, double punishment for DUI’s is legal in Colorado and most other states.

The most important consequence you face from the DMV is the loss of your driver’s license. With good cause, you may be more worried about the DMV consequences of your case than the criminal consequences. The loss of your driver’s license can create huge problems for your job and your family. The regulatory process conducted by the DMV is completely independent of your DUI case in court. What happens at the DMV hearing; however, will impact what happens in court.

DMV Hearings

In certain situations, the DMV is required to conduct administrative hearings related to the charges and convictions in DUI cases. DMV hearings are conducted by Department of Revenue hearing officers who do not have to be, but are often, attorneys with legal training and knowledge.

When you have been charged with a DUI, depending on the circumstances of your case, you will often have the right to a DMV hearing. However you have only seven days to request the hearing. If you do not request the hearing within seven days, your license will be revoked.

Your DMV hearing should not be ignored because it may save you from a license revocation. At a minimum, it may delay your license revocation and give you time to adjust to the transition. Just as important, your DMV hearing will occur before your DUI court trial. It is a chance for your DUI defense attorney to start developing a solid defense against your DUI. This can be most helpful in getting a case dismissed or winning your trial. Having an attorney to represent you at a DMV hearing is extremely important.

If you have already lost your license at a DMV hearing, you can still appeal the DMV’s ruling. Conducting an appeal with the DMV can sometimes overturn your license revocation. It is also a good way for an attorney to learn about the government’s DUI case and help you prepare a strong defense.

There are two situations where you are in danger of having your license revoked immediately. The first is called a “per se revocation.” It is triggered when your BAC level was at or above a certain point during your DUI arrest. Second, a “refusal revocation” is triggered with the DMV whenever someone violates the Express Consent Law by refusing to take a breath or blood test during their arrest.

Per se Revocations

Per se revocations operate on the assumption that if your BAC is high enough during a DUI arrest, you present a danger to society and must lose your driving privilege. Per se revocations are required and a hearing is available under the following circumstances:

  • The driver is under 21 years of age with a BAC of .02 or higher;
  • The driver has a commercial license with a BAC of .04 or higher; or
  • The driver has a standard license with a BAC of .08 or higher.
  • Per se revocations are only required in alcohol cases and do not apply to drug cases (DUID’s).

If you take a breath test that places you at or above the limit, the police officer immediately takes your license even if it is not a Colorado license. The officer will give you a document titled “Affidavit and Notice of Revocation.” This document basically states the reasons that the police officer has for believing you are drunk – including the results of your breath test. The police then mail a copy of the affidavit and other supporting documents to the DMV.

If your license is valid at the time you surrender it, you are issued a temporary driving permit, which is located at the bottom of the affidavit, good for seven days. During those seven days you can request a hearing with the DMV. You must do so in writing and the DMV must receive your request before your 7 days expires. If you do not request a hearing, your license is automatically revoked on the 8th day.

If you take a blood test (which is your choice) the officer must return your license to you until the test results are received. Because the blood sample is tested at a lab and then returned to the police, this process can take a few days. When the police receive results showing you were above the limit, they then fill out the Affidavit and Notice of Revocation and mail it with supporting documents to the DMV. Once the DMV receives the materials from the police, they mail you an Order of Revocation. It will be sent to your last address on record with the DMV and to whatever address the police have for you. The DMV assumes you will receive the order three days from when they mailed it. The order tells you that you have until a certain date – about 7 days from when you should have received the order – to request a hearing in writing. If you do not request a hearing, your license is revoked on the date in the order.

Due to the time constraints, you must immediately consult an attorney following your arrest to determine if you need representation at your DMV hearing. Hopkins Law can assist you in making a timely hearing request.

Refusal or Express Consent Hearings

If a police officer has any reason to believe (probable cause) that you are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, then you must submit to testing – breath, blood, urine, etc. If you refuse or do not fully cooperate with the testing process, the police will initiate a driver’s license revocation proceeding with the DMV. It is handled exactly like a per se revocation proceeding as described above.

Requesting and Scheduling a DMV Hearing

If you do not request a hearing within 7 days, your license is revoked. However, understanding how the DMV calculates that seven days is helpful. You should always rely on the date that is written on your Notice of Revocation because sometimes it is different from the date of your arrest. You might have been arrested before midnight, but by the time the police completed your Notice of Revocation it was after midnight – a new day and new date.

The 7 day period runs from the date of your Notice of Revocation. Colorado law requires the DMV to count all calendar days, not just business days, when counting the seven days.

However, if your final day falls on a holiday, Saturday, or Sunday, the next business day is your final day to request a hearing. The best way to avoid missing your chance for a hearing is to immediately request your hearing well before the 7 day deadline. But, if you need to calculate your due date, look at a calendar and mark the date of your Notice of Revocation. Count seven days forward – with day one being the day after the date on your Notice of Revocation and day seven being your deadline to request a hearing. If you land on a holiday or weekend, your due date is the next business day. For example, if your Notice of Revocation is dated April 1, your due date would be April 8 unless that was a holiday or weekend.

You can request your hearing by appearing in person at a local DMV office, by mailing or faxing a written request to the DMV, or by having your attorney file a hearing request. Once you have surrendered your license and made a timely request for a hearing, the revocation of your license is postponed until a decision is reached following your hearing.

It is extremely important to make sure the DMV has your valid mailing address. The DMV will schedule your hearing without concern for your schedule. They have to give you notice of the hearing date and time only 10 days prior to your hearing. The DMV will mail you notice of your hearing at your last known address.

There are numerous other issues to consider when requesting a DMV hearing. Should you request that the police officers involved in your DUI stop be present at the hearing? Will subpoenas – an order that someone has to appear at the hearing and testify – need to be issued? Can you and should you request an extension if the hearing date does not fit into your schedule? What defenses can you raise at a DMV hearing and which one is best for your case? Determining whether you need an attorney to represent you at your DMV hearing is an important question to answer. We strongly urge you to discuss these decisions with a law firm.

DMV Penalties

The DMV, unlike the court, has no discretion on your penalty. The length of a license revocation is predetermined. The hearing officer will only determine if the revocation is appropriate. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to apply for a restricted license after serving a portion of your revocation.

A restricted license involves the installation of an ignition interlock device. The device is required for every car registered under your name. Restricted license requirements include completing a breathalyzer on the interlock device every time you drive your car. You must also report the data from your interlock device on a regular basis to the DMV. Further, ignition interlock can be costly because you must pay $50 per month to lease the interlock device. You must lease one for each car registered under your name.

Per Se Revocations

Following are DMV penalties and related information for per se revocations:

  • Standard License, BAC .08, no prior per se revocations – License revoked for 9 months.

    After serving the first month of the revocation, you are entitled to serve the remaining 8 months with an ignition interlock restricted license. Further, if you can complete four consecutive months on interlock without any incidents of high BAC’s or tampering, you can obtain an early and full reinstatement of your license.

    The DMV has to send you a notice letting you know you might be eligible for this type of early reinstatement. However you have to request a hearing if you believe you deserve early reinstatement. The DMV can also extend your interlock period due to high BAC readings. You can request a hearing on this also. It is important to note that you will have to have an interlock installed on each vehicle registered under your name.

  • Standard License, BAC .08, one prior per se revocation – License revoked for 12 months.

    No opportunity for restricted license.

  • Standard License, BAC .08, two or more prior per se revocations – License revoked for 2 years.
  • Standard License, BAC .17 – 2 years of interlock restricted license in addition to whatever the period of revocation was for per se revocation.

    Further, you must show proof that you completed 66 hours of Level II alcohol education and therapy regardless of what the court may have ordered.

  • Minor (under 21) License, BAC .02-.049, no prior per se revocations – License revoked for 1 month followed by two months of probationary license.
  • Minor (under 21) License, BAC .05-.079, no prior per se revocations – License revoked for 3 months and no opportunity for probationary license.
  • Minor (under 21) License, BAC .08 or higher, no prior per se revocations – License revoked for 1 year with no chance for restricted license.
  • Minor (under 21) License, BAC .02-.079, one prior per se revocation – License revoked for 6 months.
  • Minor (under 21) License, BAC .02-.079, two or more prior per se revocations – License revoked for 1 year.

    Importantly, the revocation periods for minors per se revocations are the same as the revocation periods for underage drinking and driving (UDD). Also, these periods of revocation will run concurrently with any Baby DUI or Baby DWAI revocations which are required to last one year.

  • Commercial License, BAC .04, no prior per se revocations – Commercial license revoked for 1 year.
  • Commercial License, BAC .04, one prior per se revocation – Commercial license revoked for lifetime of driver.

    These penalties are the same for the commercial license even if the commercial license holder is driving a personal vehicle.

  • Commercial License BAC .04, commercial vehicle carrying hazardous materials – Commercial license revoked for 3 years.
  • Minor (under 21) Commercial License, BAC .02-.04, no prior per se revocations – Commercial license revoked for 3 months.
  • Minor (under 21) Commercial License, BAC .02-.04, one prior per se revocation – Commercial license revoked for 6 months.
  • Minor (under 21) Commercial License, BAC .02-.04, two or more prior per se revocations – Commercial license revoked for 1 year.

Refusal or Express Consent Revocations

Following are DMV penalties and related information for refusal or express consent revocations:

  • Standard Driver’s License – When your driver’s license is revoked for refusal to take a chemical test, the revocation lasts for one year. If this happens a second time, your revocation is for two years and a third time requires a three year revocation. The DMV has no discretion on the length of revocation. Importantly, a refusal revocation runs consecutively to any other penalty you suffer from a DUI conviction. If you are dealing with a second or higher refusal revocation (2 or 3 years), you are eligible to apply for ignition interlock on all your registered vehicles after one year of your revocation is served.
  • Commercial Driver’s License – Any refusal of a test by a commercial driver’s license holder, regardless of whether they are driving a commercial or personal vehicle, results in a one year revocation of their commercial license. If the commercial vehicle being driven contained hazardous materials the revocation is for three years. If the refusal is a second occurrence then the commercial license is revoked for life.

Multiple Offense Revocations

  • 2 Convictions in 5 Years – License revoked for 1 year, Level II education and therapy and 2 year ignition interlock restricted license following revocation.
  • 3 Convictions in Your Lifetime – License revoked for 2 years (possibility of restricted license after first year), Level II education and therapy and 2 year ignition interlock restricted license following revocation.
  • 3 Convictions in 7 Years of any major traffic offense (includes DUI, DWAI, DUI Per Se, Reckless Driving, Driving Under Restraint, Vehicular Assault, Vehicular Homicide, Hit and Run) – License revoked for 5 years (possibility of restricted license depending on circumstances) and 2 year ignition interlock restricted license following revocation.

The restricted license period cannot be avoided by simply waiting for the designated period of time to expire without a license. You must actually have an ignition interlock restricted license for the required time period. If you do not own a car you can file an affidavit and obtain the restricted license, but you still cannot drive a vehicle without the interlock device.

Collateral Consequences

Although a first DUI generally merits much lighter penalties than a second or third DUI, there is often much more at stake than the criminal and DMV penalties. In reality, the collateral consequences are often the most damaging and embarrassing. Consider having to explain to passengers why you have to blow into the tube on your steering wheel every time you start your car. In fairness, many people have managed with a DUI. You should not be embarrassed for having to deal with a DUI, but it is understandable why people are extremely self-conscious about such issues.

Although it is possible on a first DUI to get your license back in five months and not serve any jail time, a single DUI can have a prolonged negative impact on your career and your privilege to drive. Once you have that first DUI on your record, you may have to report it on job applications, depending on where you apply. Therefore, getting your DUI charge reduced or dismissed at the onset must be a priority.

Penalties for a second DUI will be much more severe. If there is any way possible to avoid a first conviction, it will be worth the effort. Please do not rush into a plea agreement. Consult an attorney and make sure you know your rights and understand the consequences. Following is some basic information on collateral consequences:

  • Careers

    If you have to drive as part of your job, have a commercial license, or if you are facing an extended jail sentence, it is very likely your job could be endangered by a DUI. However the majority of DUI cases will probably not cost you your job. Nevertheless, if you have some type of professional license or work for the federal government, military, or a large company, you may face complications or even the loss of your professional certification. Teachers, plumbers, car salespeople and many other professions are regulated by the state. On most applications – for loans, college, jobs etc. – a DUI conviction is seen as a red flag and will not help your chances.

  • Truck drivers, chauffeurs, taxi drivers and commercial license holders will all lose their license for one year on a first offense.
  • Military personnel may face delayed deployment, lower security clearance, or internal punishment if they drive military vehicles.
  • An attorney’s professional license can be impacted by a DUI conviction. Any such conviction must be reported to the Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel within 10 days of the conviction.
  • Pilots must report convictions for DUI’s and DWAI’s to the FAA Civil Security Division in Oklahoma City within 60 days. The pilot must also report any administrative action (DMV consequences) taken against his/her driver’s license within 60 days. This means that in a case where you suffered a conviction and then your driver’s license was suspended by the DMV, you must report both occurrences within 60 days of when they happened.

    The FAA does not take action against a pilot’s license upon the first alcohol related driving conviction. However, if you have more than one within three years it may deny your application for a pilot’s license or suspend or revoke your current pilot’s license. Pilots must also report any alcohol related convictions on their medical applications and failure to do so can result in denial, suspension or revocation.

  • Doctors and Nurses may face denial of a professional license application or suspension or revocation of their professional license for alcohol and drug related “addictions”. The Colorado laws dealing with this do not specifically list alcohol convictions or DMV administrative actions against a driver’s license as the basis for denial or suspension of the professional license.

    However, your yearly applications specifically ask if such incidents have occurred and this may lead to further investigation of your conviction as it relates to your ability to function on the job.

  • Public Safety Employees – EMT’s, fire fighters, police etc. – may lose their job over a DUI of DWAI conviction.
  • College Students will often deal with the possibility of suspension, the loss of a scholarship, or even expulsion when charged with a DUI as the result of their school’s internal disciplinary policies.
  • Immigration

    Generally, a first time DUI does not have immigration consequences for a non-U.S. citizen. However, if you are considering entering another country for travel or work purposes having a DUI conviction may bar you from entering certain foreign countries. Canada, for example, classifies all alcohol related driving offenses as felonies. Canada will not let a non-citizen with a felony enter the country without special paperwork being filed first. The paperwork can take months to process.

Reinstatement of License

Following a license revocation, you do not automatically receive a new license. You must apply for your license to be reinstated. The requirements for reinstatement differ depending on the circumstances which caused your revocation, but generally, you will have to pay a $95 reinstatement fee, present proof of SR-22 insurance, and fill out a reinstatement form. You can only apply for reinstatement via mail. More specific requirements and information can be found at the DMV website.

SR-22 insurance is named after the form you have to file with the DMV showing proof that you have made a financial commitment to staying insured. It is basically an agreement between you, your insurance company and the DMV that your insurance will remain in effect for a specified period of time.

SR-22 insurance can be very costly. Normally, you have to maintain it for three years with some exceptions. If your SR-22 insurance lapses, the insurance company informs the DMV and your license will be suspended until you are insured again. If you violate any traffic law while your SR-22 insurance has lapsed, your license will be revoked for one year.

It is in your best interest to apply for early reinstatement on a restricted license whenever available. This is because if you are required to serve time with a restricted license, the mandatory restriction period will begin to run as soon as you begin using the interlock device. So, the earlier you begin serving time with a restricted license, the sooner you will be restriction free.

Point System

The DMV may also revoke your license for exceeding pre-defined point limits, depending on your age and license class.

  • Adult Revocation Required if 12 points in 12 months or 18 points in 24 months
  • Minor (18-21) Revocation Required if 9 points in 12 months or 12 points in 24 months, also if 14 points after age of 18 license revoked until age 21
  • Minor (under 18) Revocation Required if 6 points in 12 months or 7 points in 24 months, also if 7 points prior to age 18 license revoked until age 18
  • Chauffeur Revocation Required if 16 points in 12 months, 24 points in 24 months or 28 points in 48 months

Points remain on your license until a time period ends. It does not matter if you obtained a new class of license (i.e., adult license carries points from minor license) points may also be used for more than one revocation. For example, if you were revoked for having 12 points in 12 months, you could be revoked again for hitting 18 points in 24 months with the same first twelve points. The DMV has discretion to grant probationary licenses when you go over your point limit. An attorney can assist you if you wish to request a hearing for that purpose.

Out of State DUIs

If you are convicted of a DUI or other alcohol or drug related traffic offense in another state, it is possible that you may have your Colorado license suspended. Or, if you are not a resident of Colorado and are charged with a DUI while passing through, your home state license may be suspended due to the Colorado offense. The outcome in such cases often depends on the states involved. It is best to consult an attorney as soon as possible so you will know what to expect.

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