California DMV Hearings

What You Need to Know About DMV Hearings/License Suspension

If you are arrested for a DUI, in most cases the police officer who makes the arrest will seize your drivers license and provide you with a “pink paper”. This event starts the clock ticking. You have only ten days to arrange to have a DMV hearing set. If you fail to do this you will automatically surrender your right to a hearing. The impact of this decision will mean that your driving privilege will be suspended thirty days from the date of your arrest.

You do not want this to happen to you.

The California DMV Hearing Attorneys at Wallin and Klarich represent hundreds of clients each year who retain our services to demand a DMV hearing. Many times because of our efforts and evidence presented at the DMV hearing we win these hearings for our client. This means that the DMV returns our clients drivers license to them and there is no suspension of their driving privilege. When our law firm receives a date for the DMV hearing that means that your license will remain valid pending the outcome of the DMV hearing. We urge you to strongly consider retaining our law firm immediately after our arrest for a DUI so we can do all we can to preserve your driving privilege.

If your license is suspended after a first-time DUI arrest, you will spend at least 30 days with no driver’s license at all. After that, you can get a temporary restricted license by paying a $125 fee to the DMV, filling out a form and showing proof that you’re enrolled in a court-ordered alcohol program. Unfortunately, this restricted license allows you to drive only to work and to the alcohol classes. If you don’t follow those rules, or if you drive with a suspended license, the penalties are 10 days to six months in county jail, plus a fine of anywhere from $300 to $1,000. The law doesn’t care whether you need to drive to look for a job, take care of your family or perform other daily tasks. That’s why it’s so important to call Wallin & Klarich to help you fight to avoid a license suspension.

At the administrative hearing, Wallin & Klarich will often fight your license suspension by challenging the technical grounds for your arrest and charges. For example, our attorneys might examine whether the police officers who pulled you over had a reasonable cause to believe you were driving under the influence; whether your arrest was lawful; or whether your blood-alcohol concentration was truly over the legal limit. Even if the DMV decides that your license should be suspended, Wallin & Klarich may still be able to reverse that decision if you are found not guilty of your DUI in court.

 

DMV Overview

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If you are about to lose your drivers license, you will need to contest it by scheduling and attending a DMV hearing.

If you are about to lose your drivers license, you will need to contest it by scheduling and attending a DMV hearing. Every driver is entitled to a DMV hearing before their driving privileges are taken away. A DMV hearing is an administrative procedure conducted by the Department of Motor Vehicle (“DMV”) to determine whether to suspend your license for certain reasons like driving while under the influence.

A DMV hearing is needed after a DUI arrest. After the arrest, the police officer will confiscate your drivers license and you will be given a temporary drivers license. What you do next is time-sensitive and crucial. You have only ten days to arrange to have a DMV hearing set. If you fail to schedule a DMV hearing within 10 days, you will automatically surrender your right to a hearing. The failure to take timely action will result in your driving privilege being suspended thirty days after the date of your arrest. A DUI arrest is the most common reason why someone would need a DMV hearing. Other DMV hearings include negligent operator hearings, medical hearings, and fraud hearings.

Wallin and Klarich represent hundreds of clients each year who retain our services to demand a DMV hearing. We urge you to strongly consider retaining our law firm immediately after a DUI arrest so we can properly defend your rights and preserve your driving privilege. We will also deal with the obligatory long hold times on the phone with the DMV. Our traffic attorneys have successfully defended the rights of our clients in DMV hearings. This means our clients drivers licenses returned to them and there is no suspension of their driving privileges. When our law firm receives a date for the DMV hearing, your license will remain valid pending the outcome of the DMV hearing.

If your license is suspended after a first-time DUI arrest, you will spend at least 30 days with no driver’s license at all. After that, you can get a temporary restricted license by:

  1. Paying a $125 fee to the DMV;
  2. Showing proof of insurance (the “SR-22″ form); and
  3. Showing proof that you are enrolled in a court-approved driving under the influence program .

 

Unfortunately, this restricted license only allows you to drive to and from work and to and from the court-ordered alcohol classes. If you don’t follow those rules, or if you drive with a suspended license, the penalties are 10 days to six months in county jail, plus a fine of anywhere from three hundred dollars ($300) to one thousand dollars ($1,000). See California Vehicle Code Section 14601. The law doesn’t care whether you need to drive to look for a job, take care of your family, or perform other daily tasks. That’s why it’s so important to call Wallin & Klarich to help you fight to avoid a license suspension.

At the administrative hearing, Wallin & Klarich will often fight your license suspension by challenging the technical grounds for your arrest and charges. For example, our traffic attorneys might examine whether the police officers who pulled you over had a reasonable cause to believe you were driving under the influence; whether your arrest was lawful; or whether your blood-alcohol concentration was truly over the legal limit. Even if the DMV decides that your license should be suspended, Wallin & Klarich may still be able to reverse that decision if you are found not guilty of your DUI in court. In addition, an adverse ruling can be appealed to the DMV in Sacramento and/or to the courts by filing a writ.

DMV hearings are complex, technical, and stressful for a person whose license is on the line. It is inadvisable to attempt to represent yourself. The DMV hearing is an administrative proceeding regarding your driving privilege and the circumstances surrounding the arrest, not whether you are innocent or guilty of a criminal act. Because DMV hearings are not criminal in nature, public defenders are unavailable.

 

DMV Negligent Operator Hearings

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Under California Vehicle Code section 12810, the DMV will assign points to the drivers record if convicted of certain offenses.

The Negligent Operator Treatment System is based on the “negligent operator,” in which points are added to a motorists driving record when he or she commits a traffic violations or gets involved in an auto accident. Each driver starts with a clean driving record. Under California Vehicle Code section 12810, the DMV will assign points to the drivers record if convicted of certain offenses.

Negligent operator points are added to a persons driving record when the DMV receives notification from courts and reports from law enforcement agencies that indicate that the driver contributed, was at fault, or was responsible for a traffic collision. The initial reporting of the responsibility for a collision by law enforcement can be refuted by evidence a driver presents during an administrative hearing. The DMV is required to consider all evidence submitted before reaching a final determination with regard to the driver’s negligent operator status.

The purpose of a operatoris to consider the drivers record, including mitigating and aggravating circumstances, to decide whether the driver should be classified as a negligent operator under the point count system, and to determine whether any action against his or her driving privilege is warranted. The driver must be given an opportunity to produce evidence and testify in detail regarding his or her driving record. The hearing action must be supported by a preponderance of evidence.

The following will be considered during a Negligent Operator hearing:

  • Correctness of driver record
  • If there are any pending court charges, convictions or accidents not shown on record to determine whether the driver has a negligent pattern of driving
  • If the driver is responsible for collisions on driver record
  • Involvement of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Any other mitigating or aggravating factors
  • Physical and mental conditions related to the driving record

Excessive Points On Driving Record

You would typically receive one point in the following scenarios:

  • An auto accident which was caused by you
  • A minor moving violation or traffic ticket

You could get two points for:

  • Reckless driving
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs
  • Hit-and-run accident
  • Driving with an invalid license – suspended, revoked or expired

The more points you acquire, the more you are at risk of losing your driving privilege. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has the right to suspend or revoke your driving privilege if you receive:

  • Four (4) points within a 12-month period,
  • Six (6) points within a 24-month period, or
  • Eight (8) points within a 36-month period.

The length of time the points stay on your driving record depends on the number of points assessed for each violation. For example, single point additions are cleared after three years, as are most two-point additions. However, if you fail to appear in court on a DUI charge or any other traffic violation, then they will remain on your record for 10 years. See California Vehicle Code Section 12810.5.

Having points on your record will significantly affect you financially. Insurance companies will raise the cost of your insurance if a point is received on your record. If too many points are accumulated within a certain period if time, your insurer may drop your coverage altogether and the DMV will be required to suspend your driving privilege.

 

DMV Administrative Per Se Hearing

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When a person is arrested for a DUI, the person is entitled to a DMV hearing.

When a person is arrested for a DUI, the person is entitled to a DMV hearing. This hearing is called an “administrative per se hearing.” Anyone arrested for DUI in California, whether they hold a California drivers license or not, must request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles Driver Safety Office that is closest to the location of arrest. This request MUST be made within 10 days of the date of arrest (including weekends and holidays), or your license will automatically be suspended after 30 days.

Out-of-state residents who are arrested in California are not exempt from this obligation, even if they do not have a California license or if they have no intention of returning to California. Because of something called the Interstate Drivers License Compact, which operates to share information between the various states, the California DMV action will be reported to the drivers home state, and the license-holder from another state acts at his or her peril by failing to request the hearing, regardless of whether they ever intend on returning to California.

Assuming the DMV administrative per se hearing request is made within 10 days of the date of arrest, the issues to be determined at the hearing will vary, depending upon whether you provided a chemical test of your blood or breath or whether the chemical test was refused.

Where a chemical test of your blood or breath WAS given, there are three issues:

    1. Did the officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol?
    2. Were you placed under lawful arrest?
    3. Were you driving a motor vehicle when you had a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08% or higher?

Where a chemical test was allegedly REFUSED, the issues differ slightly, and include:

    1. Did the officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol?
    2. Were you placed under lawful arrest?
    3. Were you properly advised of the consequences of a refusal to submit to a chemical test of your blood or breath?
    4. Did you refuse to submit to or fail to complete a blood or breath test, after being requested to do so by an officer?

 

What You Need to Know About DMV Hearings for Driver License Fraud

A driver may receive a DMV hearing if the defendant has committed drivers license fraud. The DMV is required to notify a driver of his or her potential suspension. If you do receive notice of a pending suspension, there are still ways to challenge and overcome an upcoming suspension. Every licensed driver in California is entitled to a DMV hearing. That is your opportunity to present evidence and challenge your suspension.

Drivers license fraud occurs when one person uses another’s identification or false documents to obtain a California drivers license. This type of documentation could include counterfeit social security information, immigration documents, or birth certificate. An individual who provides counterfeit documentation to obtain driving privileges can be charged with drivers license fraud by law enforcement. See Forgery under California Penal Code Section 470.

If a person has been charged with drivers license fraud or identification fraud, he or she can face a number of serious consequences. If convicted, one could face jail time, penalties and fines, probation, community service, and, of course, suspension or revocation of your driving privilege.

 

What You Need to Know About DMV Hearings: License Suspension for Medical Reasons

The DMV may restrict, suspend or revoke your driving privilege if you have medical conditions such as diabetes, a memory disorder, or loss of consciousness. California law requires physicians to report certain physical and mental conditions to the DMV if he or she has reasons to believe that your medical condition will not allow you to operate a motor vehicle safely. The medical conditions that must be mandatorily reported include:

  • Alzheimers Disease
  • Epilepsy or seizures
  • Lapse in consciousness
  • Diabetes
  • Dementia
  • Cataracts
  • Macular degeneration
  • Muscular dystrophy

If you are facing any such action from the DMV, then you must request a hearing immediately. The DMV is required by California law to give you an opportunity to present evidence of your physical condition.

If a physician has notified the DMV of your medical condition, then you will need to submit a DMV Driver Medical Evaluation (DME) form. This form is requested when medical information is necessary to evaluate a drivers physical condition with regard to safe driving abilities. This form also helps hearing officers evaluate the physical and mental condition of the driver and what determination to make with regard to the motorist’s driving privilege.

The DME form calls for the driver to complete a health history and to certify under penalty of perjury that the information is true and complete. The form also requires the motorists doctor to provide information about the drivers diagnosis, treatment and functional problems, if any. There are also specific sections in the form that deal with Alzheimers, diabetes, dementia, and cognitive problems. This form must be signed by you and your physician before being sent to DMV officials for evaluation.

Based on the hearing, the DMV can suspend a license until a medical condition is cured. A license can also be permanently revoked based on a medical condition.

 

What You Need to Know About DMV Hearings:

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Unlike criminal court, where the prosecution must bring in “live” witnesses to prove the case against the accused, the DMV generally does not bring in any such witnesses. Instead, the DMV generally attempts to support its action by introducing various police reports into evidence, as well as the “official” reports relating to the chemical test, if one was given.

Therefore, the fight at the DMV hearing is generally a hyper-technical one, centered on the admissibility of the DMV proposed documentary evidence. The DMV proposed evidence is hearsay. Hearsay is generally inadmissible, absent an exception to the hearsay rule that applies. One possible avenue for success is to challenge the admissibility of this evidence; if the evidence cannot legally be admitted, the DMV must set aside its action.

However, anyone who has attended a DMV hearing can attest to one very odd aspect that is immediately noticeable: The prosecutor and the judge are the same person. The very person who seeks to introduce evidence on behalf of the Department of Motor Vehicles is the same person who rules upon whether or not that evidence will be admitted. As amazing as it sounds, this has survived challenges by lawyers for years. Equally amazing is that the DMV hearing Officer who is making these legal rulings is not a judge or even a lawyer. They are generally DMV employees who have received only cursory training in how to conduct these hearings.

Notwithstanding this inherent unfairness, DMV hearings can be fought and won. Challenges to the DMV evidence are frequently granted. Additionally, it may be possible to demonstrate that a drivers blood alcohol level was below the legal limit at the time they were driving, even though it rose to a higher level at the time they were tested.

DMV hearings provide an excellent opportunity to gather information that can be used to help the accused in the criminal court case. A skilled Wallin & Klarich DUI defense lawyer may subpoena police officers to the DMV hearing, where those officers will provide testimony under oath. This means that any favorable testimony that is developed at the DMV hearing will be available for use in the criminal case.

DMV Hearing – Consequences

For a first-time offender who submits to a chemical test, the DMV will suspend the drivers license for four months. However, it is possible to get a restricted license (that allows for driving to/from and during the course of work, and to/from an alcohol education program) if certain criteria is met.

For a first-offender who refuses to take a chemical test, a license suspension of one year will be imposed, with no opportunity for a restricted license.

For a first-offender who was under 21 years of age at the time of the violation, a license suspension of one year will be imposed under the Zero Tolerance Law. However, a work and school restricted drivers license may be obtained by completing an application for critical need from the DMV.

For second-offenders (or greater), the consequences increase. For second-offenders who provide a chemical test, a one-year license suspension will result absent victory at the DMV hearing level. For second-offenders who refuse chemical testing, a two-year suspension is in store.

Third- time offenders face a three-year license revocation. Obviously, the stakes in these cases are very high, and help from an experienced legal professional will make all the difference in the world.

DMV Hearing – Appealing a DMV Decision

If the DMV hearing results in an adverse finding, it is possible to appeal. An adverse ruling may be appealed two distinctly different ways: (1) a request for administrative review by the DMV in Sacramento or (2) a petition for a Writ of Mandate in the Appellate Department of the Superior Court in either the licensee’s county of residence or in the county where the DMV hearing was held.

The administrative review process is where the DMV in Sacramento reviews the DMV hearing Officers decision. The cost is minimal ($125). There are deadlines here too: the request for administrative review must be made within 15 days of the date of the decision. If an appeal is not made within 15 days of the DMV hearing result, the drivers license remains suspended for the allotted time period and the driver may not appeal in the future.

I am scheduled to appear in court on the DUI charge, is this similar to a DMV hearing?

No. The DMV hearing is an administrative proceeding regarding the suspension or revocation of your driving privilege only. Also, a public defender cannot appear for you at a DMV hearing. This is one of the benefits of hiring the attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. We can appear for you at the DMV hearing and represent you in your DUI case.

What does the DMV review during a DMV hearing?

The DMV hearing does not determine whether you are guilty or innocent of drunk driving. The DMV hearing determines whether your license will be suspended. The DMV will determine if:

  • A blood, breath, or urine test was taken,
  • The police officer had reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23140, 23152, or 23153.
  • You were placed under lawful arrest
  • Your BAC was 0.08% or higher.

If the DMV makes a determination that all of the listed above were to be true, then your driving privileges will be suspended.

If you refused or failed to complete a blood, breath, or urine test, the DMV will determine if:

  • The police officer had reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23140, 23152, or 23153.
  • You were placed under lawful arrest
  • You were told that if you refused to submit to or failed to complete a test of your blood, breath, or urine, your driving privilege would be suspended for one year or revoked for two or three years
  • You refused to submit to or failed to complete a blood or breath test, or (if applicable) a urine test after being requested to do so by a police officer.

If the DMV makes a determination that all of the listed above were to be true, then your driving privileges will be suspended.

 

FAQs Regarding DMV Hearings

What if I won my DUI case in court, do I get my license back?

When you have been acquitted of DUI charges in court, you will receive your license back. You must show proof to the DMV that you were acquitted.

My drivers license was suspended after the DMV hearing, but my DUI was reduced to a reckless driving. Do I get my license back?

The DMV will not give you your license back if you received a reduced charge for your DUI. Your license will remain suspended for the period imposed.

My drivers license was suspended after the DMV hearing, but the DUI charges were dismissed in court or the prosecution decided not to file a DUI charge against me. Do I get my license back?

Not necessarily. Current California law may permit a driver a renewed right to a hearing within one year of the arrest date when a DUI charge is dismissed or not filed by the prosecutor due to lack of evidence, or filed, but later dismissed by the court because of insufficient evidence. This is why it is important to speak with an experienced Wallin & Klarich traffic attorney.

I was convicted in court of the DUI charge, but the judge said I could get a restricted license. How do I obtain this restricted license?

You can get a restricted license if you have a non-commercial drivers license and you show proof of enrollment in a driving-under-the-influence program, file proof of financial responsibility, and pay a $125 reissue fee. The DMV will not issue a restricted license until 30 days after the start of your suspension.

 

Call Wallin & Klarich Today

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Contact the DMV attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today

DMV hearings are complex, technical and stressful for the person whose license is on the line. With a Wallin & Klarich DMV hearing lawyer by your side at the hearing and in court, you can increase your chance of keeping your license. We have the experience and knowledge to help. Call us today for a free evaluation of your case.

The DMV Hearing Lawyers at Wallin & Klarich approach every case with the belief that the person we’re defending could easily be one of our own family members. We’ve seen firsthand how stressful legal matters can be for our clients and their loved ones. We are committed to being available to our clients at all times — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If you or someone you love is facing a driver’s license suspension in Southern California, you should call Wallin & Klarich today for a free evaluation of your case. Call (877) 466-5245 or fill out our online consultation form to get in contact with a legal professional today.

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