Am I Entitled to Notice and a Hearing Before the State Revokes My Driver's License?
Generally, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment ensures that a person cannot be punished without proper legal proceedings, including notice and a hearing. That applies to the suspension or revocation of driver's licenses, as well. However, there are certain circumstances in which your driver's license can be suspended without a notice or hearing. The most common example involves DUI offenses.
In the majority of states, if you're arrested for driving under the influence, you probably won't be getting behind the wheel for a while. That's because of Administrative License Suspension (ALS) laws. While ALS laws vary state by state, they typically require that a license be confiscated and automatically suspended without a hearing in a couple of situations.
Implied Consent Laws
The first situation involves implied consent laws. Under the laws of most states, by driving in the state you give "implied consent" to a breath, blood, or urine test if suspected of DUI. Refusing to submit to the test after a proper traffic stop will typically result in an automatic license suspension, regardless of whether you were actually impaired at the time.
The second situation takes place after you've submitted to chemical testing. If the test indicates that you have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or higher, or have certain drugs in your system, your license will automatically be suspended under the laws of most states.
Since ALS laws are state-specific, the length of the suspension period can be anywhere from a few days to several years depending on the state's law. As of 2012, there are only nine states that don't have ALS laws: Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee.
Appealing an ALS
Most states allow drivers to appeal an Administrative License Suspension. Typically, the driver must file an appeal within a few days of the arrest or the issuance of a citation. Once an appeal has been filed, there's a hearing to determine whether driving privileges should be restored.
However, even if your license is reinstated, it could be a fleeting victory. If you're later convicted of your DUI charge, your license will probably once against be suspended. But, if your license ends up getting suspended, many states allow qualified individuals to apply for various types of conditional or limited driving privileges, such as for getting to and from work during daytime hours. These decisions are usually made on a case-by-case basis.