License suspension or revocation traditionally follows conviction for alcohol-impaired or drunk driving. However, under administrative license suspension (ALS) laws, sometimes called administrative license revocation, or the DMV hearing, licenses are automatically suspended independent of the criminal court proceedings whenever a driver either refuses to submit to chemical testing (blood, breath or, in some states, urine), or submits to testing with results indicating a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher.
Because ALS laws are immediate and require no proof of guilt, supporters such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving argue that they are more effective in reducing drunk driving than are traditional post-conviction sanctions, and that, in any event, driving is only a privilege. However, critics object to a procedure in which guilt is presumed and punishment is automatically imposed by the police officer; they further point out that state and federal courts have held the driving privilege, once given, to be a vested right that cannot be taken away without due process. See, e.g., Schuman v. California, 584 F.2d 868 (1978).
The laws have also been criticized as constituting double jeopardy and/or multiple punishment. While the argument for double jeopardy is tenuous, that for multiple punishment may have merit: the driver has his license suspended by the State in the ALS proceedings, and then is punished by the State again in court for the same offense -- the punishment often involving a second license suspension. While this issue has been resolved both ways in the past by state and federal courts, the currently prevailing view is that there is no multiple punishment since the suspension is only an administrative "sanction", not a criminal "punishment".
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