A driver’s license suspension by the DMV is administered almost immediately after you’ve been arrested for a first time or any consecutive alcohol-related DUI in California. Still, instead of suspending your driver’s license, the DMV provides the option of issuing a restricted license or installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your vehicle rather than completely suspending your license. This is a valid request which can be made during the DMV administrative hearing. By hiring the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we can negotiate against your DMV's revocation of driving privileges so you can continue to drive while your DUI criminal case is pending.
The California DMV and Mandates
The California DMV is a government body that regulates the licensing of drivers, securing their identities and the registration of motor vehicles. The department has a database of over thirty-four (34) million cars and a register of more than twenty-six (26) million drivers in California. Its other significant functions include:
- Registration and record keeping of motor vehicle ownership,
- Issuing certificates of title for the vehicles registered in the state,
- Maintenance of the driver’s license records that involve DUI charges or convictions,
- Regulating and licensing vehicle manufacturers, salespeople, transporters, dealers, and distributors, as well as,
- Running and licensing traffic and other driving violation instructors and schools.
The California DMV also administers the financial responsibility act in its dealing with customers. They are mandated by law to investigate and resolve any consumer complaints to the best of their ability. All the records that the motor vehicle agency keeps are maintained within the restrictions of state and federal law.
What is a Driver Safety Administrative Hearing?
A DMV administrative hearing is not held at a California court, but at the DMV’s county offices; soon after your DUI arrest. The fundamental reason the DMV holds this conference is to determine whether your driver's license should be suspended or not. A pink notification of suspension is usually issued by the police when they arrest you, which acts as a temporary driving permit for a month after your alcohol-related DUI arrest.
The pink license notice also informs you that a DMV administrative hearing needs to be applied for within the ten (10) days of your DUI arrest. This entitlement is given so that you can fight the suspension of your driver's license. You must request this hearing; otherwise, you risk forfeiting it and possibly losing your license. Full license suspension kicks in after thirty (30) days if you don't use the ten-day window to request a DMV administrative hearing.
Your eligibility to have the DMV reinstate your driving privileges will depend on whether you take the necessary steps. They include:
- Enrolling in a DUI school regulated by the DMV in California
- Submitting an insurance SR-22 form
- Paying the reinstatement fee of one hundred and twenty-five ($125) dollars
- Accepting the installation of an IID in your vehicle
You must adhere to the ten-day time frame when requesting a DMV administrative hearing. Hiring a criminal attorney makes it easier to deal with the repercussions of a California DUI arrest. Pending filings and delays to your driver licenses reinstatement may occur if you fail to apply for the APS hearing.
Once your lawyer has completed the filing, you can wait for the DMV’s decision to either reinstate your driver's license or postpone its suspension.
What is The Difference Between a California DUI Court Trial and a DMV Administrative Hearing
The administrative hearing at the California DMV office is a relaxed affair, as opposed to the stern trial court setup. An administrative hearing officer is appointed by the DMV to preside over your hearing. This officer usually has no legal background, unlike a California judge and seeks only the least amount of proof for reinstating your driver's license.
The DMV administrative hearing happens on the premises of their offices or even over the phone. Sometimes, your attorney will appear on your behalf, and you need not attend; as opposed to courtroom proceedings. Your DMV administrative hearing allows for legal representation but does not provide it for you. You will hire an attorney at your expense, unlike a DUI criminal case which may involve a court-appointed lawyer if you can't afford one.
You or your California criminal attorney are allowed to challenge the evidence presented by the police. A DUI savvy lawyer will call for the review of material and testimonies while sending subpoenas to witnesses or arresting authorities. The DMV administrative hearing will also involve your cross-examinations of the arresting officer, and some pieces of evidence or witnesses. You will be able to testify for yourself, or your lawyer may argue case merits in your favor.
How to Schedule a DMV Administrative Hearing
Your administrative hearing will take place at the local driver safety branch of the DMV to determine whether your driver’s license gets suspended or not. Your California criminal lawyer will schedule the DMV administrative hearing within ten (10) days. Most of the time, hearings are conducted on a conference call with your lawyer and the DMV hearing officer.
What Happens in a California DMV Administrative Hearing?
The hearing officer from the DMV makes considerations depending on factors which include:
- Arresting officer’s probable cause to stop and test you for driving under the influence,
- The arresting officer’s lawful cause for your arrest, or
- Your blood alcohol count at the time of arrest - if .8% or higher and .01% for under-age drivers
Refusing to submit to a breath or blood chemical test after your DUI arrest leads to two sets of questions at your DMV administrative hearing. These are;
Did you refuse to take a chemical blood or breath test at the scene of your arrest or police station?
Did the arresting officer inform you that your refusal to take the test will result in your driver's license suspension for a year, or a two and three-year driving privileges revocation?
After considering your DUI circumstances and plea for leniency, the DMV administrative hearing officer will either sustain the action of your license suspension or set aside the action by reversing the restrictions. Setting aside the action exonerates you from losing your driving privileges and can happen if you can refute even one of the pieces of evidence against you.
Common Defenses for a Successful ‘Set Aside’ of Your DMV License Suspension
A skilled attorney will present viable defenses on your behalf in a DMV administrative hearing. Arguments that will hold during this hearing are those that rely on the circumstances of your DUI arrest and the arresting officer's vigilance with testing procedures. They include but are not limited to;
You Were Not Driving
Your lawyer could claim the fact that it wasn't you driving the motor vehicle if the police officer didn't personally observe it. If the DMV has no witnesses who saw you driving, and no evidence is submitted contrary to this, the no driving defense can be used at the DUI hearing.
You Were Unlawfully Arrested
The California attorney in charge of your representation at the DMV administrative hearing can argue that the police officer arrested you unlawfully. An unlawful arrest in California may revolve around circumstances that involve;
You Were Arrested at an Illegal DUI Checkpoint
California vehicle code places strict regulations for the setting up and running of sobriety checkpoints. Detailed instances of arresting officer procedural errors include the following;
- The officer had no probable cause
A setting aside of your driver's license suspension can be achieved by proving that the arresting officer had no enough probable cause to arrest you for a DUI. The defense attorney that practices DUI law in California can cite many reasons that will portray the officer’s lack of probable cause.
- The officer was racially profiling you
You were pulled over and arrested due to your ethnicity, nationality, or race. Where there are motives and proof that you were racially profiled opens suspicions that your BAC reading may also have been falsified, an attorney with experience of the proceedings at the DMV administrative hearing will create a defense saround the nature of your racially motivated DUI arrest. This will tilt the weight of your DUI case in your favor, to necessitate a reversal of the DMV's decision to suspend your license.
- The officer arrested you after a traffic accident aftermath drinking
In the instance that your alcohol DUI was attached to a traffic accident, you may have only drunk after the accident occurred, after which the police interviewed you and smelt the alcohol on your breath. Being able to show that you were not drunk before the crash and the presence of material evidence such as the proof of purchase for a drink may be enough to clinch a termination of the DMV’s sustained action.
No Observation Period was allocated
California DUI regulations mandate that a police officer makes a 15-minute observation of a DUI suspect before conductive a blood or breath test. This period is set aside to ensure that the DUI suspect doesn’t compromise the test results by drinking, vomiting, or eating something.
Failure to adhere to the 15-minute observation window will result in the defense lawyer's claim that the blood alcohol count was beneath .08% when you were driving. A setting aside of your DMV suspension can be achieved with a viable observation period defense.
There Was a Violation of Title 17 Testing Equipment Procedures
California code of regulations Title 17 is responsible for how blood and breath tests should be administered. The procedures for collection, analysis, and storage of test samples is strictly regulated under Title 17. Any failure in these procedures will lead to the DMV hearing officer scrutinizing the test results. Under this provision, breathalyzer instruments must be checked for accuracy after one hundred and fifty (150) blows or every ten (10) days.
Results that may be presented to the hearing officer will be deemed inaccurate if your lawyer proves that calibration of the test devices was off. Erroneous results mean there was no DUI, and a reversal of your driver’s license suspension may then be initiated.
Physiological Reasons for False BAC Readings
Reasons that are unrelated to alcohol can interfere with your breath analysis and result in falsely high readings. A highly erroneous BAC reading can result from:
- High protein and low carbohydrate diet
- Acid reflux and GERD medical defense
- Residual alcohol-based mouthwashes or medication
If your lawyer can prove that you suffered any of these conditions during the time a breath sample was taken, there will be sufficient proof to achieve a set-aside.
An Improper Warning Was Given
During your arrest, the police officer is required to advise you regarding the consequences that will result in your refusal of a chemical blood or breath test. A one-year driver’s license suspension is one of the things you should be clearly warned about in writing. The arresting officer reads this written notice word for word and failing to do this gives you the defense of improper warning.
Due to the high levels of arrest that a state or county officer undertakes, they may neglect to carry out the exact process of warning for refusing to submit to a breathalyzer. An officer can be tired and forget to give the warning or choose to deliberately not provide it. The arresting personnel might also be citing their interpretation of the notice as opposed to reading the scripted version.
Lawyers will argue that you were not able to comprehend the admonition’s delivery and therefore, didn't realize the weight of consequences. An officer may also give you conflicting information during the reading of the one-year suspension warning. You might be informed that refusing to submit to a chemical breath test will get your driver's license revoked or mandatorily suspended instead of a one-year suspension.
Proving that such action took place when your DUI chemical test procedures will provide doubt that could lead to the setting aside of the DMV’s lawsuit against you.
Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test Misinterpreted
It could have been that when you were prompted to take a breathalyzer test, you couldn’t manage enough breath to blow into the machine. The procedure may have seemed frightening and unsafe for you, and your questions could have been interpreted as a refusal to submit to the test.
An alternative blood testing procedure which should be presented in such instances was not availed, leading to hostilities that the officer took down as refusing to comply with roadside testing procedures. A DUI savvy lawyer who proves that you were not refusing to take a breath test, will rely on this defense, coupled with the fact that there are no BAC results provided to win.
The DMV hearing officer will be hard pressed to sustain the legal action against you at this point.
Flaws in the Arresting Officer's Paperwork
There are mandatory papers that an officer must fill once you have been arrested for a DUI in California. If these documents are not correctly written or have missing information such as signatures and dates; the weight of these errors could prove favorable to your case. Wrong BAC results paperwork and other facts that are erroneously recorded will move the minimum burden of proof required for the reversal of the DMV’s suspension.
Why Hire a Criminal Attorney For Your DMV Administrative Hearing?
The laws that govern a California DUI and the DMV action that follows are not detailed in a way to appear straightforward to the ordinary person. Hiring a skilled lawyer gives you the chance to fight since discrepancies can be sought within your case. Factors that make your DUI arrest illegal and the lack of the arresting officer’s probable cause may lead to the collapse of your case.
The DMV administrative hearing officer usually follows the script and assumes that your arrest was necessary. Since you are allowed to hire a lawyer for your hearing, it’s wise not to try and plead your case on your own. An experienced attorney familiar with DMV administrative hearings combats your charges by demonstrating flaws in the evidence the police obtained.
A keen lawyer will notice small mistakes in the reports and procedures. This is a clear indication that your DUI arrest was bungled. The penalties that result in losing your DMV administrative hearing can be rough to your way of life. An initial six-month license suspension for first-time offenders can genuinely hamper your mobility and earning potential.
Your following DUI arrests in California will fetch stiffer penalties such as enforced lengthy license suspensions and a lack of future driving privileges. When brought by the police as evidence against you, the refusal to take a breathalyzer test attracts a one-year license suspension and defers your eligibility to apply for a restricted license. Without an attorney by your side, the DMV can bar you from appealing their legal actions against you, making the license suspensions mandatory.
A capable lawyer will maintain your innocence pleas to result in the DMV’s reversal of their suspension of your driving privileges.
Contact a Criminal Attorney Specializing in DMV Administrative Hearings Near Me
An alcohol DUI arrest in California will result in two (2) legal proceedings against you. The first is a DUI criminal charge, where a misdemeanor or a felony is tried before a judge or jury in a California court. The second action against you is an administrative hearing by the California Department Of Motor Vehicles regarding your driver’s license. The Los Angeles Criminal Attorney is an accomplished law firm, and we can help you get the best result at your DMV administrative hearing. Call our Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer today at 424-333-0943 and schedule your free consultation with our top criminal attorneys.