criminal law

License Suspension Timeframes By Crime in Arizona

Criminal convictions in Arizona can come with numerous consequences, one of which could be having your driver’s license suspended. Taking away a defendant’s driving privileges is a common way for the courts to penalize certain crimes. It is also a method used by the Motor Vehicle Department to exact administrative penalties against a driver for certain moving violations. The length of time your driver’s license will be suspended depends on the offense.

How Long Will Your License Be Suspended?

Driver’s license suspension or revocation in Arizona can arise from administrative action as well as a sentence passed down through the criminal courts. The length of the license suspension will depend on the type and severity of the offense, as well as whether this is the individual’s first conviction or if he or she has a prior criminal history. 

License suspension timeframes for common offenses in Arizona include:

  • 30 days: aggressive driving
  • 90 days: driving under the influence (DUI)
  • 3 months: accumulating 13 to 17 points on your license in 12 months
  • 6 months: accumulating 18 to 23 points on your license in 12 months
  • 1 year: accumulating 24 or more points on your license in 12 months
  • 1 year: aggravated DUI
  • 1 year: refusing a breathalyzer test (admin per se suspension)
  • 2 years: refusing a breathalyzer test more than once in the prior 84 months
  • Until the person appears: failing to appear in court

In addition, some offenses can result in the revocation of a driver’s license. Unlike a suspension, a driver will have to reapply for a license after a revocation period ends. A driver’s license may be revoked if an individual receives two or more DUI convictions or commits other major driving offenses (such as a hit-and-run) within seven years.

Consequences of Driving on a Suspended License in Arizona

If you violate the law by driving on a suspended license, this could result in serious penalties and consequences. A conviction for driving on a suspended, revoked, canceled or refused license in Arizona is a class 1 misdemeanor that can come with possible punishments of up to six months in jail, three years of probation, vehicle impoundment and up to $2,500 in fines plus surcharges. Having prior convictions for driving on a suspended license increases the chances of prosecutors seeking jail time.

What to Do if Your License Gets Suspended in Arizona

Having your driver’s license suspended for any amount of time can be extremely inconvenient. For example, it could lead to the loss of your job if you drive for work, such as if you are a commercial driver or delivery driver. Being unable to drive could also interfere with your relationships and daily life, including custody arrangements with your children.

The best-case scenario for a driver is to avoid having a license suspended to begin with. This may be possible with an appeal filed to the Arizona License Appeal Board within 10 working days of the suspension notice. Your lawyer can request an appeal by filing the required written notice with the City Clerk. Then, your lawyer can represent you during the hearing to defend you against the allegations being made in an effort to prevent driver’s license suspension.

If avoiding license suspension is not possible, a lawyer can still help you in other ways. One example is requesting a restricted or probationary driver’s license, which could allow you to drive to certain places, such as your job. A lawyer can also help you take the steps necessary to reinstate your license after the mandatory period of suspension or revocation has ended.

For more information about driver’s license suspensions in Arizona, contact Corso Law Group to request a free legal consultation.

Understanding MVD Hearings for License Suspensions

If you receive a notice that your driver’s license is going to be suspended, you may have the opportunity to request a hearing with the Arizona Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) to fight against the suspension. The most common circumstance for this type of hearing is a license suspension under Arizona’s implied consent law in a driving under the influence (DUI) case.

DUI and Implied Consent License Suspensions

If you are pulled over in Arizona and accused of driving under the influence, you may be ordered to give a breath, blood or urine test. All drivers in Arizona give their implied consent to these tests when they obtain their driver’s licenses. Implied consent means if a driver refuses to comply with these tests, he or she can face automatic penalties from the MVD. The standard penalty is a 12-month driver’s license suspension for a first-time offender.

If your driver’s license gets suspended for refusal to comply with a DUI test, the license suspension period will commence 15 days from the date that it was issued. Within these 15 days, the driver has the right to request an MVD hearing or summary review to argue against the suspension. If accepted, the suspension will be stayed (put on hold) for at least 20 days from the date the request is made.

How to Request a Hearing

Your request for an MVD hearing regarding the suspension of your driver’s license must be put in writing and submitted on the correct Executive Hearing Office hearing request form by mail, fax or email within 15 days of receiving a notice. The form should include your full name, mailing address, driver’s license number, date of birth, phone number and email address, and a brief statement as to why you are requesting a hearing.  

An MVD hearing is not a criminal DUI hearing. It is a civil proceeding to determine if your driver’s license should be suspended. If the state cannot meet its burden of proof, you may avoid license suspension. However, if your DUI case goes to the criminal courts and you are convicted, part of your criminal sentence could be a suspension for the same amount of time had the MVD hearing not taken place.

Admin Per Se vs. Implied Consent Challenges

At the MVD hearing, the state will have to prove that the police officer had reasonable grounds to believe you were driving under the influence, and that you either refused to take a DUI test or you completed a valid test and the result was a blood alcohol content (BAC) level at or above the legal limit (0.08 for standard drivers and 0.04 for commercial drivers). 

You or your criminal defense lawyer will have the opportunity to request an admin per se challenge or an implied consent challenge to your driver’s license suspension. Admin per se refers to a type of DUI arrest that is triggered by a driver complying with a test and presenting an illegal BAC. This will result in a 90-day license suspension. 

Do You Need an Attorney for an MVD Hearing?

A hearing with the Motor Vehicle Department in Arizona may not be a criminal trial, but its outcome can still affect your life and future. An attorney can help you with an MVD hearing by building a defense, combatting the state’s evidence against you and challenging the grounds for a driver’s license suspension. A lawyer could also submit a request for a restricted permit, which can still allow you to drive to certain locations. If you face criminal charges for a DUI, your lawyer can also represent you during this process.

For more information about MVD hearings in Arizona for a suspended driver’s license, contact Corso Law Group for a free consultation with an attorney.

The Consequences of Driving on a Suspended License

In Arizona, a driver could face a criminal and/or administrative suspension of his or her driver’s license for numerous reasons. Driving on a suspended license is against the law. If a driver gets caught operating a vehicle with a suspended, revoked or canceled license, he or she could be penalized. This can include jail time, in some circumstances.

Why Might a Driver’s License Get Suspended in Arizona?

The law in Arizona provides many opportunities for the criminal courts as well as the Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) to suspend a driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle. This is a penalty that may be imposed for various traffic infractions, civil violations and criminal offenses. Examples include:

  • Reckless driving
  • Racing on highways
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
  • Refusing to take a breathalyzer test
  • Failing to stop at the scene of an accident (hit-and-run)
  • Accumulating too many demerit points on the driver’s license 
  • Delinquent child support payments
  • Various criminal convictions

If a driver’s license gets suspended in Arizona, he or she legally cannot drive a motor vehicle. According to Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 28-3473, a person cannot operate a motor vehicle on a public road while his or her privilege to drive is suspended, revoked, canceled or refused. Driving on a suspended license is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona under this statute and can come with serious penalties.

Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License in Arizona

In the criminal system, driving on a suspended license can carry penalties of up to 180 days in jail, three years of probation, and $4,574 in fines and surcharges. Jail time is uncommon in a driving on a suspended license case. 

However, if the driver has a record of other moving violations or this is not the driver’s first time driving without a license, a prosecutor in Arizona might seek a jail sentence. The amount of jail time sought will depend on the number of offenses in the driver’s history, with six months typically reserved for drivers on their fifth or subsequent violations.  

There is an exception to the rule for drivers whose licenses are suspended as a result of failure to appear in court or pay a fine. In these scenarios, the driver would face civil penalties rather than criminal ones. This means the MVD has the option of extending the suspension, revoking the driver’s license, imposing fines or taking other administrative actions, but the driver will not face criminal charges.

Driving on a Suspended License Can Lead to Aggravated Charges

The consequences of driving on a suspended license can also include aggravated charges for other offenses. Driving without a valid license is viewed as an aggravating factor in many types of criminal cases, including DUIs. This could mean elevated charges and enhanced penalties if the driver is convicted of the underlying crime.

How a Lawyer Can Help

If your driver’s license gets suspended in Arizona, a criminal defense lawyer can help. Your lawyer may be able to challenge the license suspension and request a hearing to stay (stop) the suspension to prevent it from going into effect. This must be done within 15 days of receiving notice that your license will be suspended. Your lawyer may be able to challenge the suspension on one or more grounds or file a request for a restricted license, which can allow you to drive to necessary locations.  

For more information about driver’s license suspensions in Arizona, contact Corso Law Group for a free case consultation.

Arizona Senator Proposes Bill to Make Recording Police a Crime

A new Arizona bill introduced by Senator John Kavanagh will make recording a police officer a criminal act if passed.

The bill, SB 1054, which Senator Kavanagh says he proposed as a measure to ensure the safety of police officers and those videotaping, would prohibit video recording police officers from a distance of 20 feet or less.

Members of the American Civil Liberties Union have attacked the bill as unconstitutional, citing that it violates the First Amendment. Professor Paul Bender, the dean emeritus of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University was quoted in an article in the Guardian as saying the bill was “on the face of it unconstitutional” and problematic.

The bill supports a person’s right to videotape a police officer outside 20 feet and within that distance on private property, or in their own residence if the person records from an adjacent room.

However, the bill would also give police officers the right to end any video recording, regardless of distance, if the police officer deemed the recording an interference in law enforcement activity.

“The language in bill SB 1054 that’s most concerning for law analysts is the section that gives law enforcement officers the right to supercede the previous sections securing a citizen’s right to film law enforcement from more than 20 feet,” said Chris Corso of Corso Law Group.

“This bill would allow any police officer the right to stop citizens from recording arrests, no matter the circumstances,” said Corso, “and would subject those who refused to stop recording to legal prosecution.”

Under protection of the First Amendment, Americans have the right to film police officers while they are on duty. This right has been pivotal in recent, high-profile court cases that have been successfully defended based on video evidence taken at the scene and involving police officer misconduct.  

One such high-profile case involved the shooting of Walter Scott, a South Carolina man who was shot in the back by Officer Michael Slager as he ran away. Video coverage captured by a witness was used to strengthen the case.

In America, the right to film police has already been established and includes specific regulations. For example, although the right to photograph police is protected by the First Amendment, officials do have the power to stop anyone from filming who they believe is legitimately interfering with law enforcement, according to the ACLU.

“Photography is a form of power, and people are loath to give up power, including police officers,” Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the ACLU, said in The Atlantic. “It’s a power struggle where the citizen is protected by the law but, because it is a power struggle, sometimes that’s not enough.”

Although police may tell people to stop recording and ask that they turn over their footage, a guide for photographers by the ACLU, Know Your Rights, says it’s illegal for police to confiscate photos or videos without a warrant.

The First Amendment protects a citizen’s right to take pictures of anything in plain view in public space, including police officers.

Could Implied Consent Be a Thing of the Past?

If you’re pulled over, are you required to participate in sobriety testing like Breathalyzer and blood tests? For anyone with a driver’s license, the answer is yes.

Implied consent laws, which are in force in all 50 states, require anyone suspected of drunk driving to participate in tests that determine impairment, such as breath, blood and urine tests.

Drivers automatically give consent to this type of testing when applying for a license.

In general, the risk of getting charged with a DUI is magnified with the help of implied consent laws, as refusing tests automatically leads to license suspension and other penalties.

Several cases are challenging implied consent, some making it to the Supreme Court, which could lead to the elimination of these laws altogether.

Implied Consent

If a driver is pulled over on suspicion of DUI, they may be asked to perform a series of tests to determine impairment. These tests fall into two categories, field sobriety tests and chemical tests.

Field sobriety tests, such as walking in a straight line, reciting the ABCs, standing on one leg and more, are not required. Chemical tests such as Breathalyzer, blood alcohol content (BAC) and urine tests are required, and refusing any of these leads to automatic license suspension and other penalties depending on each state’s specific laws. 

Gaede v. Illinois

The trouble with implied consent was brought to light by Gaede v. Illinois, which has made its way to the Supreme Court and focusses on the Fourth Amendment.

In 2012, Christopher Gaede fled the scene of an accident after hitting a parked car with his motorcycle. He was intercepted by police and asked to perform several field sobriety tests, all of which he failed.

When asked to perform a breath test, Gaede refused. In addition to a 12-month license suspension, his refusal was also used against him at trial, which then resulted in a guilty verdict.

On appeal, Gaede’s attorneys argued that police should have to obtain a warrant in order to collect evidence, in this case biological evidence, instead of relying on the implied consent law.

Essentially, they argued that using implied consent instead of getting a warrant violates constitutional rights against unlawful searches and seizures.

The Supreme Court announced it will weigh a series of implied consent cases from Michigan, North Dakota and 11 other states to determine whether it’s illegal for police to require BAC tests without securing a warrant.

Depending on what the Supreme Court decides later this year, implied consent laws could be negated around the nation, allowing drivers to refuse a BAC or breath test without that decision having major consequences later on.

New Laws to Look Out for in 2016

Can’t pay your ticket? This year, Arizona is making it legal to work off what you owe with community service. This, and several other new laws to make note of are going into effect in 2016 in Arizona and around the country.

New Laws in Arizona 

Pay Your Ticket with Community Service

Senate Bill 1117 permits anyone who is unable or unwilling to pay the cost of court fees, fines, and tickets to work off what is owed by participating in community service. Each hour of community service pays for $10 of debt.

Expanded Protection Against Identity Theft

Arizona is one of the worst states for identity theft crimes, but expansions to existing laws are in place this year to help protect citizens by allowing people to place a credit freeze on themselves so that credit reports can’t be released without permission from the individual. This law is designed to prevent thieves from applying for credit cards or loans using someone else’s identity and credit history.

Vexatious Litigants Law Update

Judges can no longer waive court fees and costs for any person designated a “vexatious litigant,” or someone representing themselves, who files repeated court actions largely to harass others, unreasonably delay court proceedings or bring actions without “substantial justification.”

The only exception would be in family court cases involving divorce and child support.

Previously, judges could waive fees for those unable to afford the cost of filing a lawsuit so that financial standing couldn’t prevent someone from going to court.

New Laws Around the Nation

Minimum Wage Increases

Several states are increasing the minimum wage this year, including those known for a high cost of living like California, Hawaii and New York.

Fast-food workers in New York will receive the initial increase in pay now for an overall plan to bump minimum wage up to $15 by 2018 in New York City and by 2021 in the rest of the state.

Other states increasing minimum wage in 2016 include Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.

Gun Laws in Texas

Texas started off the New Year with a bang as new open carry laws went into effect on Jan. 1. Now, anyone who previously had a concealed carry license can openly carry a holstered handgun in designated areas.

Another new gun law coming to Texas in August will allow the carry of concealed handguns on university campuses.

Vaccinations Required in California

As a result of last year’s measles outbreak, which left 147 people in the U.S. sick, California will no longer accept personal and religious belief exemption waivers, requiring vaccinations for all children at public and private schools.

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