When someone is arrested for a DUI in Arizona, there are two different and separate cases that run against the DUI defendant simultaneously.
Criminal Court and the Arizona MVD
One case is the actual DUI court case, which proceeds in an Arizona criminal court (typically in a City / Municipal Court, a Justice Court, or a Superior Court). This case involves a prosecutor and a Judge.
The other case involves the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (known as the Arizona MVD). In Arizona, when someone is arrested for DUI, in addition to the paperwork that the police officer submits to start the criminal court case, the arresting officer will also complete an Admin Per Se / Implied Consent Affidavit and submit it to the Arizona MVD. This will start the AZ MVD’s involvement in the DUI case.
What is the Arizona MVD’s Involvement in the DUI Case?
Upon receiving the Admin Per Se / Implied Consent Affidavit paperwork, the Arizona MVD will send a corrective action notice to the DUI defendant, suspending the person’s driver’s license for a minimum of 90 days with a specified start date. However, this suspension can likely be postponed if a proper hearing request is filed with the AZ MVD within a specified time frame. Upon receiving the hearing request, the MVD will set an MVD hearing date.
At the AZ MVD hearing itself, the police officer is subpoenaed to testify under oath in front of a hearing officer. For a discussion of the MVD Hearing, see the previous blog entry entitled “Arizona MVD Hearings – Gathering Information About Your Own DUI Case” Arizona MVD Hearings – Gathering Information About Your Own DUI Case”. At the conclusion of the MVD hearing, the hearing officer will consider the officer’s testimony, and any cross examination, and determine if the suspension should be upheld.
Note, however, that there are some circumstances where, for strategic purposes, an accused drunk driver may stipulate to the MVD suspension prior to the hearing officer making a decision, even if they are going to win the hearing. Thus, it is always best to consult with and/or retain an Arizona DUI defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest so that, not only is the MVD Hearing requested in a timely and proper manner, but the MVD Hearing is conducted in the manner best for your individual DUI case. Many people have caused themselves unnecessary headaches later on by not utilizing the proper strategy at an Arizona MVD hearing.
The Arizona MVD can also be involved at the conclusion of the criminal court DUI case, based on the conviction (if any). Specifically, depending on the DUI case at hand, the MVD may be involved in issuing points against the driver’s license at issue, issuing additional driving suspensions, issuing driver’s license revocations, and/or mandating the installation of an ignition interlock device, to name only a few.
As a result, it is always best to involve an experienced Arizona DUI defense attorney in your DUI case early on, so that he or she can deal not only with the criminal court case but the AZ MVD case as well.