The DMV Process
On Sept. 20, 2005 California legislation removed the power of the courts to suspend or revoke licenses on DUI cases. Since then only the DMV can suspend a license, either because of an unsuccessful DMV hearing or a criminal court conviction.
This DMV process is completely unique and separate case from the criminal case, and the court date already provided to you.
The DMV Process Requires Quick Action
The Department of Motor Vehicles case is more time-sensitive, because a motorist facing a drunk driving charge only has 10 calendar days from the date of arrest to request a DMV hearing. If a hearing isn’t requested within this 10 day period, which includes weekends and holidays, his or her license will automatically be suspended for 30 days.
Even drivers licensed in another state will see their licenses suspended through the Interstate Driver’s License Compact.
The DMV Process provides for a Hearing
The DMV hearing following a DUI arrest is referred to as an Administrative Per Se Hearing. The issues that can be raised at an APS Hearing will vary.
There are three issues at stake – whether the officer had a reasonable belief that the driver was under the influence, whether the arrest was lawful, and whether a properly conducted chemical test indicated that the driver had a BAC of .08 percent or greater.
The DMV Process for chemical test refusal
If the driver refused a chemical test, it is critical to determine whether the driver was advised of the repercussions of the refusal, and whether the motorist continued to refuse the test after being advised of the consequences. If the driver loses the DMV hearing, the length of the license suspension will be substantially longer than for drivers who submit to chemical tests.
Unlike court trials, which involve live witness testimony, the DMV’s decision is typically based on various police and chemical test reports, and is extremely technical in nature. The evidence typically introduced at a DMV hearing is hearsay, which is generally inadmissible. This is why it’s imperative to be represented by a California DUI attorney who is knowledgeable about the DMV hearing process. An attorney will challenge the evidence based on the hearsay rule, and if the evidence cannot be legally introduced, the DMV cannot suspend the driver’s license.
License Suspensions resulting from the DMV Process
The license suspensions imposed by the DMV if the driver doesn’t win at the hearing can be severe – for a first offense, the license is suspended for four months, with the possibility of getting a restricted license to drive only to work and back. Drivers facing a first offense who refused to take a chemical test lose their license for one year, with no opportunity to get a restricted license.
For multiple DUI convictions within 10 years, the repercussions are even greater. On a second offense, the driver’s license is suspended for one year, or two years if the driver refused a chemical test. On a third offense, the license is suspended for three years.