License Suspension for a DUI in Idaho

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If the police have arrested you for a DUI charge, you will very likely face a license suspension.  There are three instances where this may occur; failure of a breath test, refusal of a breath test, or a conviction for a DUI.

License Suspension when you are arrested

The first possible time that you may lose your license will be when the police first arrest you.  At this time your license may be suspended either for refusing to take a test of your blood, breath or urine for an intoxicating substance, or for your failure of the same.  If you refuse to take the test or fail, the arresting officer will notify you in writing of the license suspension. A common problem with this notice is that most people are indeed intoxicated. They do not realize, remember, or understand that the officer notified them.

Suspension for Failing Test

Failure of the test will cause the Idaho Department of Transportation (DOT) to suspend your license. This suspension is an administrative sanction from DOT, not the courts.   You have seven days to appeal the arresting officer’s decision to suspend your license.  If you fail to appeal, or if you lose, your license suspension will begin 30 days after your arrest.  The first time you fail this test DOT will suspend your license for 90 days. The initial 30 days will be absolute, which means you cannot drive at all.  After the first 30 days, you can apply for a restricted permit from the department for work, school or medical reasons.

Suspension for Refusing Test

Refusal to submit to any one of the tests that the arresting officer asks you to take will result in the officer charging you with refusal.  This matter goes before the magistrate court as a civil matter.  It will be a separate case from your criminal DUI case.  

As was the case with DOT, you will be required to file an appeal within seven days.  If you fail to do so or lose, the suspension will go into effect 30 days after your initial arrest.  

Absolute Suspension

The difference between the DOT suspension and the refusal suspension is that the refusal suspension is for 365 days absolute. Absolute means you will be unable to operate a motor vehicle on public roads for an entire year. There are no exceptions to this, other than an exception for participants of DUI court.  Many counties do not have DUI courts, and so this will not be an option.

License Suspension after conviction

The other time your license will be suspended is if you plead guilty to or are found guilty of a DUI charge.  Different DUI charges carry different license suspensions.  A first time regular DUI conviction carries a 90-180 day license suspension.  The initial 30 days are absolute, while you should be able to get a work or school permit for the remaining days.  A second time DUI conviction, and a first time excessive DUI conviction both carry a 365-day absolute driver’s license suspension. ‘Absolute’ means you cannot drive at all for any reason for 365 days.  And if the court convicts you of a felony DUI, then your license will be suspended for at least one year absolute, and up to 5 years.

Miscellaneous License Suspension Topics

Work or School Permit

Before you can apply for a work or school permit, you must pay the reinstatement fees. Also, your insurance must be current and valid. You must fill out an application with the DOT or the Court.  If the court has not yet convicted you of the DUI charge and you need a permit, then you will apply with the DOT.  If the court has sentenced you, then you will apply only to the court.

Suspension of Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

If you have a CDL, DOT will suspend your license for an entire year. This suspension will happen regardless of whether you were driving a Commercial Class vehicle or not.  You will be unable to operate a commercial class vehicle for a year after any DUI conviction.

Backdating License Suspension

The Court may allow your DUI suspension to be backdated to when the DOT suspension started.  What this means is that you will not have two consecutive license suspensions. The two suspensions will run concurrently.  So if your DOT license suspension began on May 1st, then the court will start your DUI suspension on May 1st as well.  In other words, if the DOT suspended you for 90 days beginning May 1st, and the court suspends your license for 180 days on July 1st, the court can still order that its suspension starts on May 1st. That will give you two full months of credit towards your DUI suspension, leaving you only 120 days remaining.

SR-22 Proof of Financial Responsibility

DOT also requires you to carry an SR-22 after a DUI conviction.  An SR-22 is a document from your insurance company sent to the DOT as ‘proof of financial responsibility.’ Idaho law requires this document after a DUI conviction.  The problem is, when an insurance company agrees to provide this documentation for you, they consider you a high-risk driver. Consequently, your rates will go up if the insurance company decides to cover you at all.  Idaho Code requires you to carry an SR-22 for three years after your license suspension ends.  However, if the court granted you a withheld judgment and your probationary period ends, and the court grants a dismissal, you no longer will be required to carry an SR-22.