If you’ve been pulled over and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Pennsylvania, you’ll soon learn that there are two separate components to the process. You’ll ultimately have to go to court to establish your guilt or innocence and learn any criminal penalties. But there’s also a process whereby the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will determine whether your driving privileges will be affected. In most instances, the DMV hearing does not take place until the criminal matter has been resolved. Don’t think, though, that dismissal of the criminal charge will eliminate the need for the administrative hearing. Your license can be suspended even if charges are dropped or reduced.
When you are formally charged with a DUI, the arresting officer is required to notify PennDOT. PennDOT will then send you notice of the suspension of your license by mail. You must request a hearing with the DMV within 30 days of your receipt of the notice of suspension or your driving privileges will automatically be suspended for 12 months.
At the administrative hearing, there will be a presiding PennDOT hearing officer, who will function like a judge. In most instances, the arresting officer will be there to offer evidence against you. Unlike the criminal proceeding, where your guilt must be established beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard of proof at an administrative proceeding is probable cause—did the arresting officer have probable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence?
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