When a person is charged with a DUI in Colorado they have to navigate two separate, although parallel, systems. The first is obviously the criminal justice system.The second is the administrative system run by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in connection with a person’s privilege to drive.
I say “privilege” because many often feel that the ability to drive a vehicle is a right. There is, among others, the right to equal protection under the law, the right against self-incrimination, and, implicitly, the right to privacy. Some think that, like privacy, driving should be a an implicit constitutional right. Unfortunately, Colorado case law is clear that driving is not a fundamental right. See, e.g., Heninger v. Charnes, 613 P.2d 884 (Colo. 1980). This allows the DMV to regulate who can and cannot drive in Colorado.
We frequently toss around the term “driver’s license” without considering what we’re saying. Let’s break this phrase down down. “License” can be used as a verb or a noun. The verb means to give permission; the noun refers to that permission which frequently takes the form of a document. The person granting the license is called a licensor. The person receiving the benefit of the license is deemed a licensee. James Bond had a license to kill. He was a licensee. A Broncos fan is given a ticket for their license to watch a game. Pat Bowlen and the Broncos are the licensors. If you look at the back of a lift ticket to ski, you’ll see on the back that it is a license.
We all know that an unruly person at a movie or game can be escorted out. A skier that ducks a rope may have their lift ticket yanked. This is because a license can be revoked. The licensor essentially says to the licensee, “You no longer have my permission.”
The standards and process employed by the Colorado DMV in revoking a driver’s license for a DUI will be the subject of a subsequent post.