Driver’s License Suspension and Revocation After a DUI Arrest

If you are arrested for an alcohol-related moving violation, the arresting officer will give you an Order of Proposed Revocation. You will have to appear in Superior Court to face the criminal charges. However, if you want to challenge the revocation of your license, however, you must schedule a hearing, called a permit hearing, with District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (DC DMV) Adjudication Services. This must be done within 10 days if you are a resident of the District of Columbia, and within 15 days if you are a non-DC resident.


At the hearing, you have the right to be represented by counsel. The hearing examiner will take testimony from the arresting officer, who will provide information about the case, including such things as:

  • The basis for the stop
  • Actions observed or statements made by the driver
  • Other circumstances relevant to the charge.

The hearing officer will also ask you questions. You are entitled to offer witnesses as well if you have any. The hearing officer will then issue a ruling about whether or not your license will be revoked.

It is important to understand that a license revocation is a civil consequence, not to be confused with criminal consequences such as jail time or a fine. However, testimony given at a civil hearing may also be used in a criminal case. As such, it is a good idea to have an attorney represent you at the license revocation hearing, both to protect your rights and to ask the officer the types of legal questions that could impact both the license revocation and your criminal case.


The amount of time your license is suspended or revoked depends on how many prior offenses you have, in most circumstances. It is important to understand, the length of suspension or revocation is the amount of time you are not allowed to have full driving privileges. However, you are not granted full driving privileges in the District of Columbia until you take the legal steps necessary to reinstate your license. This is done by proactively taking the necessary steps – reinstatement is not automatic.


If you refuse to take the chemical test, such as the breathalyzer, blood, or urine test, your license will be revoked for one year, regardless of how many prior alcohol-related offenses you have on your record.

However, just as with license suspensions and revocations based on a chemical test, your license revocation or suspension does not end automatically. You must proactively take steps to reinstate your license. At a minimum, this means paying a reinstatement fee. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to take additional steps to regain your license.


An ignition interlock device (IID) analyzes a driver’s breath for alcohol prior to starting the car. The IID is connected to the car’s ignition system. If the breath alcohol of the driver is in access of the level set on the device, the car won’t start. In addition to blowing into the IID before starting the car, at various intervals, the driver is again prompted to blow into the device. This combination of tests is designed to ensure the driver is not drunk or drinking while driving.

One who participates in the IID Program can get a restricted driver’s license, which allows them to drive cars with an IID installed. However, the other restrictions imposed on a person remain for the length of time the driver’s license has been revoked. Violating the rules of the IID program or committing a new driving violation will extend the revocation period.


People who have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) are not qualified to participate in the IID program. For others, the requirements include:

  • Held a DC DMV driver’s license immediately prior to the revocation of their license
  • Either had their license revoked administratively or as a result of a criminal conviction due to an alcohol-related offense
  • Have no other pending license revocations or suspensions
  • No prior convictions for causing injury or death while driving
  • Enrolled in or previously completed a DC Department of Behavioral Health approved substance abuse treatment program
  • No prior failures in this or a similar program in another state for the past 5 years
  • Complete the application process
  • Pay the associated fees
  • Obtain and maintain special High-Risk Insurance
  • Meet any other criteria as required

Costs may include both installation and monthly maintenance. People who are indigent may qualify for the department to pay the costs associated with participation in the IID program.


If your license was suspended, you must pay a reinstatement fee and take a class.

However, after your license has been revoked due to an alcohol or drug-related offense, you must attend a reinstatement hearing. This hearing must be attended in person. You must fill out a Driver License Reinstatement Hearing Application and mail it to the DMV office. You are required to show proof that you have completed a state certified alcohol/drug counseling program or a certified substance abuse course, depending on different factors. The hearing officer is also allowed to inquire about your driving record and driving habits. You have the right to be represented by an attorney at this hearing.

If your license can be reinstated, you must repeat the steps necessary to obtain a driver’s license. In other words, you must:

  • Take and pass the written test
  • Get a learner permit
  • Take and pass the road test
  • Provide the necessary documentation to get either a REAL ID or Limited Purpose license and
  • Pay the reinstatement fee.

If the Adjudication Services Office determines your license cannot be reinstated, you can appeal this decision to the Traffic Adjudication Appeals Board.


If you are facing alcohol-related charges, don’t face them alone. At S. L. England, PLLC, we help people charged with alcohol-related offenses. From challenging the license revocation to challenging the test results, we have the experience you are looking for in a DUI/DWI attorney. Contact us today at (202) 489-0720.

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