Before you go to the trouble and expense of pursuing a writ, ask yourself if there is an easier way to get what you want. One thing you want, of course, is to be able to drive again after a DMV suspension. Believe it or not, there are several alternatives to consider after a bad DMV hearing. Make sure you or your attorney analyze the issues in your case and consider each of these alternatives before accepting the suspension
1. WORK-RESTRICTED LICENSE
If the DMV suspension is a first-offense administrative suspension, you will likely be able to obtain a restricted license after thirty days. (For second and greater offenses, the waiting time is much longer – a year or longer.) This restricted license will allow you to drive legally for three purposes: (1) to get to and from work; (2) to drive in the course and scope of work; and (3) to get to and from the first offender’s DUI program.
Take a close look at Number Two, the “course and scope of work” clause. This means you can drive not only to and from work but anywhere that is required for you to do your job. Many professionals and self-employed individuals can take advantage of this kind of license because they are almost always traveling in the course and scope of their job.
If you can live with the thirty day “hard” suspension (during which you cannot drive legally at all) and the restricted license gets you everywhere you need to go, you may conclude that you don’t need to beat DMV badly enough to pursue a writ. Of course, the restricted license does nothing to limit the auto insurance consequences to having an administrative DUI suspension on your driving record. It may be cheaper to get the writ than to pay the increased insurance premiums for three to five years.
2. HARDSHIP LICENSE (UNDER 21 ONLY)
If you are under 21 and had your license suspended for a so-called “Zero Tolerance” violation, you may be eligible for a “hardship license” if you can show a “critical need to drive.” The most common reasons found satisfactory is the need to travel to work and/or school couple with the inadequacy of public transportation.
Note: if you were suspended under the Zero Tolerance laws, you will NOT be eligible for the work restricted license mentioned above. Only the hardship license process will let you drive during your period of restriction.
3. ACQUITTAL BY A JURY
If you beat the DUI prosecution by getting a jury to acquit you after a trial, DMV has to give you your license back even if you were suspended. If you have a triable court case (meaning one with an even or better chance of winning), you may wish to put your resources into a trial instead of a writ. If resources are not an issue, you may wish to fight on all fronts.
4. HELMANDOLLAR PLEA IN COURT
For this one, you’re going to need an attorney. In some cases an attorney is able to negotiate a Helmandollar plea bargain with the District Attorney where the result is to orchestrate an acquittal as described in Number 3 above. The likelihood of success of this strategy depends on the judge, the prosecutor and, of course, the skill of the attorney. The point is, though, that by entering into a strategic plea bargain, it is possible in some cases to reverse the DMV suspension without seeking a writ.
5. “DO-OVER” HEARING AT DMV
In some cases you have a right to have a second DMV hearing even if you lost the first one. You have a right to this renewed hearing any time the prosecutor either decides not to file charges against you or dismisses charges already filed against you based on a lack of evidence. Be very careful in deciding whether to demand a second hearing. You may have a better chance at getting your license back with an immediate writ action than with a second hearing. Let me explain.
If you seek an immediate DMV writ in court, the judge is going to look at what happened at the DMV hearing to decide whether to give you your license back. If the hearing officer really screwed up at the first hearing, you may want the judge to see the screw-up and give you the writ based on it. On the other hand, if you demand a second hearing, the new hearing officer may correct the mistakes that were made the first time and suspend your license again. Then you may no longer have grounds for the writ.
While there are possible alternative routes to a driver license following an administrative suspension, all these roads are fraught with peril. A DMV writ may still be your safest course, but the trip must be taken with an attorney experienced in DUI and DMV law.