In most DUI arrest your license to drive is immediately confiscated (unless you have an out-of-state license) and you are given a pink sheet of paper.
This paper serves as a formal notice of an immediate suspension, a temporary license good for 30 days and a brief explanation of the laws and procedures involved. Please note that you only have 10 calendar days within which to call the regional Drivers Safety Office (a division of the Department of Motor Vehicles) to schedule a hearing to contest the suspension. On the 11th calendar day the DMV will refuse to provide a hearing and the suspension (at least 4 months) will automatically take effect in 30 days.
The basis for this suspension is California’s “implied consent” laws. These laws essentially say that any person driving in California is “presumed” to impliedly consent to chemical testing if he or she is suspected of drunk driving.
It is always recommended that you, or the attorney you hire, immediately contact the Drivers Safety Office to request a hearing. There is a good chance of having the suspension thrown out; the worst thing that can happen is that the same suspension will simply take effect, but later than 30 days.
In most cases the DMV will not be able to actually conduct the hearing within 30 days of the date of your arrest. This is simply due to their work load. Because of this you or your attorney should request another temporary license (to be sent to you in the mail). This new temporary license will be valid up to about 15 days past the date that you and the DMV have selected as the date for the hearing.
The hearing you request will typically be set about 1-2 months out. Please note that the temporary license they send you will NOT have a picture on it. If you need a picture identification then you will need to apply at the DMV for an identification card or a passport.
If you were arrested for a first offense, and you lose this hearing or fail to request a hearing your license will be suspended for 4 months which can be reduced to 1 month followed by 5 months of work restriction if you provide proof of enrollment in a DUI school and an “SR-22.”
If your case involves a “refusal” your suspension will be for 1 year with no work restriction allowed. If your DUI case is a 2nd offense it will usually result in a 1-year suspension.
The hearing itself is conducted by a DMV employee who will not only act as the “judge” but also as the “jury.” The hearing is conducted like a mini trial, but without jury and with unique rules. Testimony can be elicited by both sides, although the hearing officer usually only produces documents, such as police reports, laboratory reports and the officer’s statement.
Please note that because there is no Fifth Amendment right at this hearing you should, usually, not attend or participate at the hearing since you could be called as a witness by the hearing officer. A decision is usually not rendered until days or even weeks after the hearing.
Because of the technical nature of these hearings it is recommended that you not attempt to represent yourself and because these hearings are not criminal in nature public defenders are unavailable to help. As a result there are only two people you can conduct this hearing for you – You or an Attorney you hire.