Understanding DMV Hearings California




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What Are DMV Hearings?

If you find yourself facing a DUI arrest in California, you should know what a DMV hearing is and the implications of the outcome of the hearing on you and your driving privilege.

DMV hearings, also called Administrative Per Se hearings, are administrative hearings that allow you to present evidence concerning the DMV’s intent to take action against your driving privilege.

You’ll face two separate cases or hearings when arrested for DUI in California. The first is the criminal DUI charge in the criminal court, initiated by the prosecutor. The second is the California DMV hearing, which you may request yourself. This hearing provides an opportunity to contest your driver’s license suspension.

Hiring a DUI attorney experienced in DMV hearings will be beneficial to you regarding timely requests for a DMV hearing and effective representation of the issues involved in your interest during the hearing. At the Law Office of Rebecca Feigelson, our experienced DUI attorneys can help you with your DMV hearing.

Eligibility for DMV Hearings

If arrested for DUI, the police officer will seize your driver’s license and issue a notice of suspension and a 30-day temporary license. This notice of suspension will determine your eligibility for a DMV hearing.

Preparing for a DMV Hearing

DMV hearings are held at DMV driver safety branch offices. Driver Safety Office is the California Department of Motor Vehicles enforcement arm that serves as DMV’s version of a court.

You can contact your safety branch office to schedule your DMV hearing. Also, you can hire a DUI lawyer in Oakland, CA, to schedule a hearing on your behalf and represent you at the hearing.

An entire criminal proceeding or trial for a DUI charge is more comprehensive than DMV hearings. At DMV hearings, your arresting officer must prove your guilt of DUI on the preponderance of evidence, unlike criminal proceedings where the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A DMV employee serves as the driver safety hearing officer who adjudicates over DMV hearings, unlike the presence of a judge or jury at criminal trials. It is important to get the assistance of a criminal lawyer in Oakland when dealing with such proceedings.

Defenses Available at DMV Hearings

There are several ways you can defend yourself and avoid losing your driving privileges. Some of these are:

  • Lack of justification for the DUI stop: For a DUI arrest to stand, the arresting officer must have a legitimate probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop you. Where there is no probable cause to arrest you, the DMV hearing officer has to set aside your California driver’s license suspension. For example, if you were pulled over by the police based on your race or skin color.

  • No driving defense: To be arrested for DUI, it is necessary for you to have been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If the arresting officer cannot prove that you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of arrest, your driver’s license suspension should be invalidated.

  • Malfunctioning of the test instrument: If the instrument used to determine your Breath Alcohol Content (BAC) malfunctioned, the results would be false. There are also situations when the breath test instrument accuracy is not verified as required by law. In such cases, we can prove that the instrument did not meet the standards and prevent your license from being suspended.

  • Failure to advise: Arresting officers are mandated to properly advise you on the implication of refusal to submit to a chemical test after pulling you over for DUI. The officers may read out the advisement to you expressly. Failure to read out the advisement to you is a viable defense for DUI and can cause the DMV hearing officer to set aside your license suspension.

  • Medical reasons: Medical conditions such as heartburn can cause an inflation of the chemical test result. We can tender evidence to prove that you suffer from these conditions, which may have been the reason for the increase in your BAC. The administrative hearing officer may set aside your license suspension on this ground.

What Is the Deadline for Requesting a DMV Hearing?

The deadline for requesting a DMV hearing is ten days from the date of your DUI arrest. The pink notice of suspension, given upon DUI arrest, notifies you that you are entitled to a DMV hearing to prevent your license suspension if you request a hearing within ten days. If you make this request, your license suspension will be delayed till the DMV hearing is completed or subsequently prevented if you are successful.

Suppose you do not request a DMV hearing within the 10-day deadline. In such a situation, your license will be automatically suspended once the 30-day temporary license expires. You won’t have the opportunity to contest the suspension even if you have a defense.

Depending on the type of DUI offender you are, there may be a possibility to reinstate your license at a stage. However, before reinstatement can occur, certain requirements may be fulfilled:

  • Submission of an SR-22 insurance form

  • Enrolment in California DUI school

  • Payment of reinstatement fee

Understanding DMV Hearing Outcomes and the Appeals Process

DMV hearings, pivotal in determining the fate of your driving privileges, culminate in a range of outcomes. If the decision is unfavorable, revocation or suspension of your license might be imminent. However, this isn’t the end of the road.

The appeals process provides a subsequent avenue for challenge. Typically, you must request an administrative review within 15 days following the decision. This review scrutinizes the original findings for procedural accuracy and adherence to legal standards.

Should this prove unsatisfactory, escalating the appeal to the Superior Court becomes an option, where a judge examines the entirety of the case anew. Thus, navigating these hearings with informed legal representation is crucial to enhancing the likelihood of a favorable resolution.

Your Rights at DMV Hearing

During a DMV hearing, you have several rights, including the right to:

  • Be represented by a lawyer.

  • To testify and introduce evidence on your behalf at the hearing.

  • To review and challenge the evidence presented against you.

  • To cross-examine the opposing witnesses and their testimony.

  • To subpoena and present witnesses

  • To receive the hearing decision in writing.

  • To an appeal or a departmental review of the DMV hearing decision.

Rebecca Feigelson Can Help You With Your DMV Hearing

It is essential you reach out to experienced DUI attorneys as soon as you are arrested for DUI. Time is of the essence because if you miss the 10-day deadline, you can no longer challenge your driver’s license suspension.

Our experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Rebecca Feigelson, who are well-versed in California DUI laws, can help you request a hearing and also represent your best interest at the hearing.

We can help you build robust defense strategies. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.