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New Concept: No License Suspension if You're Not Guilty

New Concept: No License Suspension if You're Not Guilty

Information courtesy of Lawrence Taylor - DUIblog

In an earlier post I discussed one of many "DUI exceptions to the Constitution" -- being punished twice for the same DUI offense. Due to federal "carrot-and-stick" pressures, the states today impose an immediate suspension of the driver's license if a driver is arrested for DUI and either tests .08% or higher or refuses to be tested. The two proceedings and penalties are separate and unrelated: if the charges are dropped in criminal court, for example, the license will remain suspended (and conversely, if the license suspension is reversed in an administrative hearing, the criminal court may nevertheless impose another suspension). The courts initially had some trouble with this double jeopardy/punishment problem (some found it to be a violation of the Constitution), but eventually sidestepped it by simply playing with words: the immediate suspension is not a "punishment" but rather an "administrative sanction".

But now along comes some North Dakota legislator with a frightening idea: if a citizen is not guilty of DUI, why should his license be suspended?

From the Bismarck Tribune (Feb. 25, 2005):

North Dakotans who aren't successfully prosecuted for drunk driving should have any license suspension wiped from their record, says a state senator who believes Transportation Department officials treat some drivers unjustly.

"If you're not convicted, a jury of six peers says you're not guilty, guess what? Your license is still gone", said Senator Tom Trenbeath, R-Cavalier....

It got its first hearing in the Transportation Committee on Friday, where it drew opposition from parents and the state Department of Transportation, which handles license suspensions for DUI.

If a prosecutor decides on a plea bargain, or a jury feels sorry for someone, a drunken driver could have the slate wiped clean, agency

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