When a driver is pulled over for a traffic offense, and when that driver is also subsequently arrested for a DUI offense, the officer will most often take that person to a police station to do what is called "blow" into the blood alcohol content ("BAC") machine. If that arrested person tests over the legal limit (.08 BAC for a person over the age of 21 and .04 for a person under the age of 21), or if that person refuses to take the test, then that person's driver's license will be suspended pursuant to what is called an "Administrative License Suspension" (an "ALS"). Although the police officer does all of the work, this ASL suspension is technically issued by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (the "BMV") based upon the actions and investigation of the arresting officer. The ALS goes into effect the very moment that the arrested person tests over the legal limit or refuses the test.
If the arrested person wants to challenge the ALS, he or she can file what is called an "ALS Appeal." This ALS Appeal is filed and litigated in the very court that is presiding over the DUI charge. Most Courts give the ALS Appeal its own separate case number, and assign all of the proceedings associated with the ALS Appeal on the same dates that are set with the DUI charge. The hearing must be scheduled within 5 days, although as a practical matter the hearing is usually set more than 15 days after the filing of the appeal. The local prosecutor assigned to the DUI charge is assigned to represent the BMV on the ALS Appeal.
In the ALS Appeal hearing, the prosecutor will have to prove the following things to the satisfaction of the judge: (1) whether the arrest was made with probable cause, (2) whether the BAC test was properly requested, (3) whether the defendant was made aware of consequences of refusal or failure, and (4) whether the defendant refused or tested over the limit. As a practical matter, most times the prosecutor will be able to prove these things - but sometimes, with an experienced DUI defense lawyer, they will have some difficulty. If there is some difficulty, the prosecutor and the defense lawyer will often attempt to work out a deal on the ALS issue or a plea on the case as a whole. It should be noted that even if a skilled defense lawyer succeeds in getting the ALS terminated, the trial court presiding over the DUI case can "replace" the ALS with a regular DUI pretrial suspension.
The ALS Appeal is similar to another DUI pretrial proceeding called a "Motion to Suppress." The two motions and the proceedings sometimes address a number or the same issues. However, the motion to suppress covers many more issues than an ALS Appeal, and if the Court grants any portions of a motion to suppress, much, if not almost all, of the prosecutor's DUI case is thrown out before trial. Upcoming articles will discuss the issues and proceedings associated with a motion to suppress.