DMV license suspensions and revocations are significant collateral consequences of DUI convictions. Thus, it is important for DUI defendants to approach the DMV hearing process just as seriously as the criminal proceedings related to a DUI. The DMV Administrative Per Se hearing is more informal than criminal court proceedings, but they can be complex and should be handled by an experienced Sacramento DUI Attorney. An attorney can help you to best present your case to the hearing officer, and can assist you in preserving the ever important privilege to drive.
The events leading up to a DMV hearing involve a DUI stop where the driver ends up testing at a .08 or higher BAC or refuses to submit for testing. After the DUI arrest, the officer will confiscate the driver’s license and issue a notice of suspension which also includes a thirty day driving permit and advises that the DMV hearing on the suspension must be requested within 10 days. The officer will then complete a statement of facts (made under oath) which provides a factual background for the DMV hearing officer who will review the matter. The officer’s statement will include pertinent info such as the acts witnessed by the officer at the time of the stop, probable cause for the stop, field sobriety test results and other relevant facts.
Scheduling a DMV hearing after being arrested for a VC 23152(a), VC 23152(b), VC 23140, VC 23136, or VC 23152(d) offense is a time sensitive matter. Generally, when someone is arrested for one of the above offenses, their license is automatically seized by the arresting officer. The arresting agency will issue a temporary license to a defendant upon release from custody allowing them to drive for 30 days. This temporary license document also informs the defendant that they have the right to request a hearing regarding the license suspension within 10 days. The officer then transmits the license and other related information to the DMV to initiate the license suspension process.
Once the information is received by the DMV, officials there decide whether to impose a license suspension, which is practically a given where a driver has registered at least a .08 blood-alcohol content (BAC) on a urine or blood test following the arrest. Pursuant to California Vehicle Code section 13557(c), the DMV is required to review the order of suspension prior to the date it is to take effect.
DMV hearings are administrative hearings and thus are much less formal than the actual DUI court appearance. During the hearing, you may still be represented by an attorney who can conduct your defense case on your behalf. As with a formal court hearing, at the DMV hearing the defendant driver will be able to examine the DMV’s and law enforcement officer’s evidence supporting a license suspension. The driver will have the ability to cross examine any witnesses (i.e. the citing officer) and can present whatever relevant evidence he or she has to show why a license suspension is not warranted.
Also similar to a criminal hearing, you or your Sacramento County DUI Attorney have the right to request discovery prior to the hearing itself. This means you will have access to the documents/reports that will be used against you at the hearing, and you will be able to examine them beforehand to help build your case. Requests for this information must be made at least ten days prior to the hearing. However, your right to discovery will only exist if you have requested a hearing per DMV requirements.
Following the hearing, the DMV hearing officer will generally take the matter into “submission.” This means that a decision will not be made right away, rather the officer will review the record of the hearing and make a final determination. The decision is mailed out to the defendant or his/her counsel at a later time. The decision will give a start date of the actual suspension if the officer decides the suspension is valid.
In the case where a driver consented to a chemical test, a four month suspension will be put into effect upon losing the DMV hearing if it is a first offense DUI. If it is the driver’s second offense (or they have had another DUI in a ten year period), a suspension of one year will be required.
If the driver is charged with a refusal of the chemical test, whether it be breath or blood, the suspension length is greater. For a first offense DUI, the driver is subject to a one year suspension. A driver with two DUIs in ten years will get a two year license revocation. Someone who has three offenses in a time period of ten years will get a three year revocation. These harsh suspensions will also apply to underage drinkers who get a DUI.
Considering the serious consequences at stake, retention of counsel is crucial. Sacramento DUI Lawyer Michael Rehm provides representation at the DMV hearing in his flat fee. Contact Michael Rehm at (916) 233-7346 for more information in regards to particular successful strategies that can be employed at the DMV Administrative Per Se Hearing.