In California, you have a right to a DMV hearing when you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) and your driver's license has been seized by the police officer. In order to restrict your license, the DMV has the burden of proving that you were driving your car with a .08 blood alcohol level or greater. In order to get a DMV hearing, you or your lawyer has to request one from the DMV within 10 calendar days of the arrest. The DMV hearing usually happens within two months from the day you request it. A telephone hearing will be conducted unless you request an in-person hearing.
By requesting a hearing you lose nothing and gain several benefits:
- Your pink temporary license will be extended
- If you win the DMV hearing, your license will not be suspended
- You may uncover evidence that will help you in your California criminal court proceedings.
According to the DMV's statistics for a recent year, 34% of all people who were suspended for DUI at the time, kept their driver's license by simply requesting a DMV hearing to fight the suspension.
When the police officer took away your California license, he should have given you a pink temporary license. This temporary license is good for thirty days following your arrest. If you do nothing, the thirty-first day after your DUI arrest, your license will be suspended for four months. Once it is suspended, you cannot drive to work, school, the grocery store, your child's daycare, etc.
What is a DMV hearing?
The California DMV hearing is an administrative proceeding that deals solely with your driving privileges, circumstances, and facts that surround your California arrest. These hearings are much more informal than court. They are run by a Driver Safety Office (DSO) Hearing Officer, who is an employee of the Department of Motor Vehicles (this hearing is not run by a lawyer or a judge). The standard of proof in California DMV hearings is a "preponderance" of the evidence, which is a much lower standard than what is used in criminal court, i.e. "reasonable doubt."
The goal of the lawyer in a DMV Hearing is to show that the BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) level was less than .08% at the time of your arrest. If the lawyer is successful in convincing the hearing officer of that fact, then the suspension or revocation of your license will be set aside. DMV hearings can be very technical. The chances of a defendant winning without a lawyer are slim. Unfortunately, the DMV does not care about your personal life. It makes no difference to them if you need to drive to work or school. That is why it is important to contact Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners to fight your license suspension by the DMV.
DMV Hearing Issues
Your need to have a California driver's license is not an issue considered at the DMV hearing. The main purpose of the California DMV hearing is to determine if your license should be suspended or revoked based on following issues:
- If you took a blood or breath test or (if applicable) a urine test
- Did the police officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation of Vehicle Code Section 23140, 23152 or 23153?
- Were you placed under lawful arrest?
- Were you driving a motor vehicle when you had .08% or more by weight of alcohol in your blood?
- If you refused or failed to complete a breath or blood test:
- Did the police officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation of Vehicle Code section 23140, 23152, or 23153?
- Where you placed under lawful arrest?
- Where you told that if you refused to submit or failed to complete a test of your blood, breath, or (if applicable) urine, your driving privilege would be suspended for one year or revoked for two or three years?
- Did you refuse to submit to or fail to complete a blood or breath test, or (if applicable) a urine test after being requested to do so by a police officer?
How long will my California license be suspended?
- If you take a blood test or breath test, or (if applicable) a urine test, and the results showed .08% or more:
- 1st Offense: Suspended for 4 months
- One or more additional offense(s) in 10 years: Suspended 1 year
- If you refused or failed to complete a blood alcohol or breath test, or (if applicable) a urine test:
- 1st Offense: Suspended 1 year
- 2nd Offense(s) in 10 years: Revoked 2 years
- Three or more offenses in 10 years: Revoked 3 years
Los Angeles DMV Hearing Lawyers
At Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners we use a number of strategies to help our clients keep their driving privileges:
We carefully scrutinize the police report from your DUI arrest
If your arresting officer didn't properly complete all crucial portions of the police report or accurately sign certain documents it may be all we need to win your hearing. Most DUI police reports are filled out late at night when the officers are tired. It is easy to make a mistake.
We make sure that the officer followed Title 17 regulations
Title 17 lays out the exact steps a police officer must follow regarding blood, breath, and urine tests during a California DUI arrest. If the officer who arrested you did not follow the regulations, we may be able to get your results thrown out.
We can use a forensic alcohol expert (or forensic chemist) to challenge the evidence
Using a forensic alcohol expert to review all the evidence and having him or her participate in the hearing is very helpful in trying to convince the hearing officer that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was below 0.08% at the time you were driving.
We can use witness testimony to aid your case
We can present testimony of your passengers(s) to fight your DMV case.
We can help you obtain a provisional license while you wait trial
In addition, to representing you during the DMV hearing, we will also represent you before the DMV to help you obtain a provisional California driver's license while you await trial or final disposition of your case. Sometimes it is possible to drop your DUI or DWI charge to a lesser offense that will allow you to preserve your California driving privileges as well.
Call the DMV Lawyers at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners to assist you with your DMV hearing and increase your chances of keeping your license. If you or someone you know is facing a driver's license suspension in Los Angeles, call us for a free evaluation and consultation of your case.