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Drinking and driving is a bad idea for many reasons—not least of which being the amount of legal woes you'll encounter for doing so.

One way many states try to combat the problem is with administrative per se laws (or admin per se). These regulations carry an entirely separate layer of consequences you will encounter for drinking and driving, on top of the criminal charges you may face for driving while under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired/intoxicated (DWI).

What Is Admin Per Se?

Because intoxicated drivers pose such a large threat to public safety, all states give law enforcement officers the authority to arrest or detain drivers for DUI/DWI.

To further police and discourage drunk driving, several states have also adopted admin per se laws, which give state licensing agencies the power to suspend or revoke your driver's license in DUI or DWI cases.

Admin per se is also commonly referred to as an administrative license suspension and administrative license revocation.

How Admin Per Se Works

The exact procedures for admin per se differ from state to state, but they usually start when, after being pulled over:

  • You refuse to submit to a blood, breath, or urine analysis to test your blood alcohol level.
    OR
  • You submit to a test, and the results show a blood alcohol content (BAC) higher than the legal limit.

In most admin per se states, once you are arrested for one of the above, the officer will confiscate your driver's license and issue you a notice of suspension or revocation. From this point, your license suspension is handled by the DMV (or your state's DMV equivalent).

Because this type of suspension is an administrative action (not court mandated), it can occur before and separate from a court trial and conviction for DUI.

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Admin Per Se vs. Criminal Charges

Drinking and driving is a crime for which you can expect to face charges through the criminal justice system.

It is important to note that penalties for a DUI conviction are separate from administrative penalties for DUI arrests. Post-conviction penalties often include:

  • Fines.
  • Driver's license suspension or revocation (court-mandated).
  • Mandates to carry special insurance.
  • A requirement to attend alcohol/drug classes.
  • Jail time.

Admin per se actions, on the other hand, are typically limited to the immediate suspension or revocation of your driver's license.

Appealing Admin Per Se Charges

In most states where admin per se laws apply, you are given the opportunity to appeal your administrative license suspension or administrative license revocation.

Where this meeting takes place, who is present, and how the appeal hearing will unfold all depend on the state. Information on appealing your suspension or revocation will be given to you at the time your license was confiscated or mailed to you by the agency which oversees the hearing.

Either way, it will be your chance to convey your side of the story—and possibly get the ALS or ALR reversed. However, this appeal process is not the same as appealing the DWI or DUI charge levied against you, and all of the associated penalties assessed. You will have to deal with those issues through the court.

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