What is the Difference Between an Administrative Review and Judicial Review? MN DWI Laws

Upon being arrested for a DWI in Minnesota, you will receive a notice and order of revocation for your driving privileges, if you took a breath test that resulted in an alcohol concentration of .08 or more or if you refused to take a test. If you took a blood or urine test, then your notice and order of revocation will likely arrive in the mail after the lab results return, if they show an alcohol concentration of .08 or more or the existence of a controlled substance schedule I or II. On the notice and order of revocation it states near the bottom that you can either request an administrative review or petition for judicial review. What’s the difference?

Administrative Review

Administrative reviews are simply that. You are only getting a review of administrative technical errors in the revocation. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) form can be found here. If DPS calculated your revocation period length incorrectly, an administrative review makes sense. After all, it was an administrative error. The form lists many legal issues that a driver can challenge through an administrative review, but you are not getting a district court judge to review the case through an administrative review. You are getting an official from DPS to review your case. You are also do not have the opportunity to cross examine the officers involved in your case. Therefore, it is often not a very fruitful endeavor when challenging a driver’s license revocation from a DWI case. Administrative reviews can be useful for challenging plate impoundment orders when someone else was driving your vehicle and challenging ignition interlock violations, however.

Judicial Review

Judicial reviews, a.k.a. implied consent petitions, bring you into district court to challenge legal issues in your case to try and get the license revocation removed from your record. You get a hearing in front of the judge in the county where your case originated. The police officers involved in your case must appear to testify at the hearing. These officers include the one that came into initial contact with you, such as the one who made the traffic stop. The officer who conducted field sobriety tests, placed you under arrest, read you the breath test advisory or obtained a search warrant for a blood or urine sample, and the officer who conducted the breath test. In some cases, it may be just one officer who did all those things in your case. The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office represents DPS (Commissioner of Public Safety) in these hearings and will fight to have the license revocation remain on your driving record. Your defense attorney will have the opportunity to cross examine the officers involved in your cases, call witnesses on your behalf, and submit evidence at the hearing. Your DWI lawyer will also be able to make arguments for your case at the conclusion of the hearing either orally on the record or through written memoranda. Once the case is submitted to judge, the judge will either issue a ruling at the hearing or a written ruling later on the merits of the case.

Robert H. Ambrose is a criminal defense attorney and DWI lawyer in Minnesota. Super Lawyers named him a Rising Star for the past six years; and the National Trial Lawyer’s Organization named him a Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyer the past seven years. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. DWI Lawyer Woodbury MN; DWI Attorney Woodbury MN; and Criminal Defense Lawyer Minnesota.

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