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 administrative per se
, licenses are confiscated and automatically suspended independent of criminal proceedings whenever a driver either (1) refuses to submit to chemical testing (blood, breath or, in some states, urine), or (2) submits to testing with results indicating a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher.
Because ALS laws are immedediate and require no proof of guilt, proponents 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, civil liberties advocates and other critics object to a procedure in which guilt is presumed and punishment is automatically imposed by the 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
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".
As of 2010, only nine states did not have ALS laws: Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey
, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee.