I recently met with a University of Iowa student that had been charged with a 1st Offense Operating While Intoxicated. She contacted my office and as a standard procedure I requested a hearing with the Iowa Department of Transportation to contest the loss of her license based upon her blood alcohol content. I wasn’t the first attorney she spoke with about her OWI/DUI offense, and said told me that the first lawyer she talked to said “you should not do a DOT hearing.” Naturally she inquired as to why one attorney would recommend the hearing and one would not. I told her that I did not know why the attorney would not challenge the revocation or use it as a discovery tool for information that could benefit her case. Finally I told the client, as in anything in life, you should compare apples to apples and ensure you are getting value for your attorney fees.
At the Law Offices of J. Dean Keegan we conduct Iowa Department of Transportation hearings to contest the loss of driving privileges stemming from an OWI/DUI in all cases when our clients are statutorily eligible. Any individual whether licensed in Iowa or another state is eligible for a hearing if it is requested with 10 days of implied consent procedure -typically a breath test failure or refusal. The hearing is administrative in nature and must occur within 45 days unless good cause exists for a continuance. A defendant is entitled to stay the loss of drivers’ license which allows the individual to drive without any restrictions.
After attorney J. Dean Keegan or Thomas D.S. Farnsworth has requested a hearing a subpoena duces tecum is sent to the law enforcement agency/police officer to obtain videos and reports that are critical in preparing a proper defense for the DOT hearing and the criminal charge of Operating While Intoxicated. Following the service of the subpoena the DOT and my office work closely with each other to set a mutually acceptable date for the hearing. In preparation for the hearing a thorough review of the documents and videos produced can lead to issues to contest the loss of license and or the charge of Operating While Intoxicated.
Finally the time for the hearing arrives; the participants include an Administrative Law Judge, your lawyer, a representative from the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and the law enforcement officer. The law enforcement officer is sworn in and his testimony recorded so that it may be used from in later hearings. After all questioning and argument is concluded the Administrative Law Judge will issue a written ruling upholding the revocation or rescind it from the defendant’s record.
In the event the Administrative Law Judge upholds a suspension not all is lost. The testimony provided in the DOT hearing can and is often used in suppression hearings or trial in the criminal Operating While Intoxicated. Additionally a favorable outcome in a suppression hearing or motion in limine can give reason to reopen the DOT proceedings and rescind the revocation or short the duration of the suspension.
In the event you do not seek counsel with-in the statutory limit to request a DOT hearing or you hire an attorney that informs you DOT hearings are unnecessary similar information can be gleaned from a deposition and suppression hearings. However, a deposition can come at a much more substantial cost than the DOT hearing. Additionally you will automatically lose your license and begin to serve a suspension of driving privileges.
No one operating while intoxicated case is the same. It is important to seek a competent defense lawyer who understands the criminal and drivers license administrative issues. J. Dean Keegan and Thomas D. Farnsworth offer free consultations to inform the accused of potential issues in their case. This blog is not intended as legal advice. If you find yourself in a similar situation to the blog article above please contact Attorney J. Dean Keegan or Thomas D. S. Farnsworth at our Iowa City or Cedar Rapids office for a free consultation