The last thing any attorney wants to tell a prospective client is that they have already lost critical rights simply by doing nothing. Sadly, this occurs all too frequently when it comes to North Dakota DUIs. Just 10 days of inaction can lead inexorably to the loss of a driver’s license and sometimes a career.
There are all sorts of reasons why a person might hesitate to contact a lawyer after a DUI arrest. For one thing, it’s only human to procrastinate when faced with the anxiety, embarrassment, and shame that often stems from such a traumatic event. For another, a court date might be weeks away, so it’s only natural to assume you have plenty of time. Nevertheless, the clock is ticking.
In North Dakota, a DUI arrest marks the beginning of two separate and distinct proceedings: one criminal and one civil. Most people are only aware of the criminal proceeding where a court date is set, a judge presides, a jury may be convened, and possible fees, fines, and even jail time are the stakes. Being charged with a crime is obviously very serious, but the civil component to DUI, known as the “implied consent” proceeding, can be just as important and the stakes can be just as high.
North Dakota law says that by operating a motor vehicle within the state, you are “deemed” to have consented to take a chemical test at the request of law enforcement. This concept is what’s known as “implied consent,” and the North Dakota Legislature has devised harsh penalties to enforce it. However, instead of fees, fines, and jail time, the potential implied consent penalties involve sanctions against your driving privileges.
10 Days To Demand Or Lose Critical Rights
If you’ve been arrested for DUI, the arresting officer will ask you to submit to a chemical test. Whether you take the test or you refuse it, the officer will issue a Report and Notice form initiating the implied consent process. Among other things, the Report and Notice will indicate the test result or that the test was refused. While police officers ordinarily explain that the Report and Notice serves as a temporary driver’s permit for 25 days, they often fail to mention that it also serves as a warning.
The Report and Notice serves as the government’s official notice that it’s coming after your driving privileges. If you’ve been served with a Report and Notice form, you can’t afford to bide your time. You only have 10 days to demand an administrative hearing on whether your license or privilege to drive will be suspended or revoked. Once that deadline has passed, the suspension or revocation will begin automatically on the 25th day after the Report and Notice was issued. Essentially, that means you can lose your license or privilege to drive for up to three years based solely on an untested allegation. The situation is even more dire if you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). A CDL holder stands to lose his or her ability to drive a commercial vehicle for a year on a first DUI and for life on a second.
Obviously, a timely demand for an administrative hearing does not, by itself, guarantee that you will keep your driving privileges, but it does give you the chance to fight for them and to build a defense for your criminal case in the process. An administrative hearing is an opportunity to cross-examine the arresting officer, and a skilled attorney will use that cross-examination to extract key admissions and concessions that can later be employed in your criminal case.
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, you can’t afford to wait to contact an attorney. For help with criminal matters in North Dakota or Minnesota (including North Dakota DUIs), please contact SW&L Attorneys at 701-297-2890.