If you have been pulled over in traffic by police for driving while drunk or drugged, you risk losing your driver’s license through an administrative hearing if you are arrested. Following a DUI arrest, officers mail your license to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A hearing is held to decide whether you should lose or keep your driving privileges while the case is being heard in court. Below are tips to help you retain your license in the DMV proceedings.
Request a DMV Hearing Ten Days After the DUI Apprehension
Following a DUI arrest, your license is seized and delivered to the nearby DMV office, and criminal charges are brought against you in court. If this occurs, you have ten days to ask for an administrative hearing to decide whether your driving privileges will be reinstated.
After thirty days, the DMV will automatically suspend your license if you do not request the proceeding within that time.
You should hire an attorney at these early stages of the case to help you with the hearing. First, with the help of your DUI attorney, you should reach out to the local DMV office where the proceeding is to be held. Please be aware that you should visit the Driver Safety Office rather than the standard field office to receive a driver's license or vehicle registration. The Driver Safety Office handles DMV proceedings.
If you do not know how to schedule a proceeding and are not lucky enough to have an attorney to help you with the process, check the notation informing you of the action taken against you. Afterward, you should call the office and identify yourself by your full name, date of birth, and license number. During the call, ask the officer on the line to link you with an interpreter if you need one during the case. Also, inquire about the accessibility of the office to people with disabilities. If someone with a disability attends the proceeding, the DMV will be adequately prepared.
An experienced attorney has helped clients request these hearings with challenges like yours. They know the location of the office where the proceeding will happen and the timeline for requesting a proceeding. Therefore, when you have one in your corner, you can be sure they will request the proceeding, and if you cannot show up, they will represent you if you will not be testifying.
Sometimes, these proceedings happen even over the phone, so it is not a must for you to show up at the DMV offices. However, be careful not to schedule a hearing and skip it because if an attorney does not represent you, the ruling will likely be against you, and you could lose your driving privileges.
Understand Your Rights at the Proceeding
When you are arrested for DUI, you undergo a criminal court proceeding and an administrative hearing. The administrative proceeding at the DMV is calmer than a court trial because a hearing officer presides over the case, not a judge.
Additionally, compared to an administrative proceeding, the evidentiary standard in a court trial is more difficult to meet. The proceeding happens in a local branch office or sometimes over the telephone, not in a courtroom.
Despite this proceeding seeming informal, you must exercise specific rights. One of these rights is that of legal representation. You have a right to an attorney, but unlike a criminal court, the DMV will not appoint one for you if you cannot afford to pay for the services.
Furthermore, you are eligible for the following benefits:
1. Review and Poke Holes on the Police Statement
At the hearing, the DMV officer in charge of the hearing will read out the legal grounds prompting the suspension of your license. When they do this, you have a right to review the evidence presented against you.
The discovery presented must be the one that will be used against you in the hearing. You should be presented with the evidence before the case begins so you can thoroughly review it and find loopholes you can exploit in your defense. Usually, the evidence in the case is the statement or report from the stopping officer, the same evidence used in your criminal case.
Your ability to refute the testimony in court will determine whether you keep your license or lose it. An attorney will be critical because they will review the report and compare it with your side of the story to find weaknesses.
The hearing officer acts as the prosecutor and often considers whether the officer had probable grounds to believe you were drunk or drugged at the time of driving. Another factor the officer considers is whether there was reasonable suspicion for the arrest. Besides, the DMV considers your BAC when operating the car.
The hearing officer will want to know the following if the evidence against you suggests that you refused to provide a sample for chemical testing:
- Did the stopping officer warn you that failure to submit a sample for testing will result in license suspension for twelve months or revocation for up to 36 months?
- Did you willfully fail to submit a test sample after the police officer instructed you to do so?
The answers to these questions will determine whether your license will be revoked or the case against you will be dropped. This means you will be allowed to keep your driver’s license.
2. Subpoena Witnesses and Arresting Officer
A subpoena is a court order requiring a person or entity to produce particular documents or prove their authenticity at a hearing. The arresting officer who gathered the evidence and the government lab where your urine or blood sample was chemically tested can be subpoenaed after receiving and reviewing the police report.
The subpoenas will make it easier to gather new evidence to contradict the evidence used against you. A summons will make it easier for you to obtain all the records you require to check the validity of the tests and their results. If you think the test results presented in court are inaccurate, you should ask for maintenance and calibration records. If the records show that the equipment was not adequately maintained, it was not functioning correctly at the testing time. This will be strong evidence to suggest the results obtained from the tests were inaccurate and that you were not drinking and driving.
You can also subpoena the traffic officer, although it will cost you $275 to bring the officer to the hearing. The fee seems like a lot, but it is worth it because cross-examining the officer before the DMV officer can help you retain your driving privileges.
Officers must adhere to specific legal requirements when making a DUI arrest. A subpoena will enable you to obtain prior complaints and present them to the DMV if the officer who wrote the report has a history of misbehavior.
Your attorney can ask the officer to explain the process they followed leading to the arrest. When it turns out the officer violated the law by arresting you at an unlawful DUI checkpoint or not observing your conduct for fifteen minutes, it will be clear they made mistakes, which will save your license.
You can also challenge the officer's report to keep your license by pointing out numerous errors. A police report must have correct dates, the officer’s signature, and accurate BAC results. The DMV officer will disregard the report if the results are unreliable or omitted, the date is incorrect, or there is no signature, which will result in a favorable outcome.
3. Testify on Your Behalf
It will help your case if you give your side of the story. The administrative action against you is based on the traffic officer’s story. Sharing your account of events will put doubt in the mind of the hearing officer about what happened. Mention all the times the officer broke the law when giving testimony, and if necessary, bring witnesses to corroborate your statements.
Raise Legal Defenses
Even though a DMV hearing is not like a trial, you can raise valid defenses to defeat the action taken against you. Your attorney should refute the evidence in your favor by arguing that you were not operating a motor vehicle at the time of the arrest. The argument will work if the officer did not observe you move and the report has no evidence to show you drove the car.
Also, you can claim that the officer lacked probable cause to detain you. You can argue that the officer flagged you down because of your race, ethnicity, or nationality. Otherwise, you were adhering to traffic rules while driving.
Again, you can claim you were involved in an accident when sober and only started drinking when you arrived home and that it was after you had begun drinking that the officer came to interview you.
Furthermore, you can challenge the test results by arguing that the equipment used for the testing was not correctly calibrated. The BAC results that led to the action against you are inaccurate. With this argument, the DMV will reverse its decision to suspend your driving privileges.
Many arrests occur at DUI checkpoints. If you were detained at one of the sobriety checkpoints, you could claim that the location did not adhere to the legal requirements, making the detention unlawful. The unlawful arrest would take precedence over the facts of the case, even if you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs when you approached the checkpoints, if it did not meet the requirements set out by DUI statutes. The DMV ruling will be in your favor.
Title 17 states the regulations officers should follow when administering DUI tests. If the sample is not taken, kept, and examined in accordance with the law, your arrest will come under scrutiny.
One of these rules is that a police officer must observe you for at least fifteen minutes before conducting a breath test to ensure you do not vomit, drink, eat, or smoke anything that could interfere with the accuracy of the results. When the officer fails to observe you for this duration, you can argue that the BAC was not at least 0.08%, as the test indicates, retaining your license.
If you refuse to provide a sample for chemical testing, the traffic officer is required to read you a warning that your license will be suspended. If the officer forgot to give the warning, willingly chose not to, or recited their interpretation instead of verbatim, the action taken against you by the DMV will be reversed, and you will be allowed to keep your license.
Bring in a Criminal Defense Attorney
Hiring an attorney for your case is highly beneficial, especially when cross-examining the officer. Your attorney is aware of the information that will help the case if it is obtained from the officer. Through cross-examination, they gather facts that can be used in your criminal case. As a result, by preparing for the DMV hearing, you will compile evidence that will aid you in the court trial.
Even if the DMV allows you to retain your license, the court could suspend it if you are found guilty of a DUI. The DMV and the court are different authorities, and their decisions are independent. Therefore, the DMV ruling will not affect the court’s decision.
In addition to assisting you with the DMV, a lawyer will work tirelessly to ensure that your case is resolved in your favor. Even though it is not necessary to have one for the DMV hearing, retain the services of an experienced attorney because the administrative hearing will enable them to better understand your case, thereby putting up a better defense in court.
Even if the DMV decision is not in your favor, the attorney can request the department to review the decision by their hearing officer. However, if you win the DUI case in court, the DMV will have no option but to reinstate your license.
Find an Experienced Los Angeles DUI Attorney Near Me
Your driver’s license enables you to drive to work, school, or home. Without it, you will have to rely on public transportation or family members to get around. To help you keep your license, you should request a hearing as soon as you are stopped for driving while intoxicated or under the influence and hire an attorney. At Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney, we have the skills to develop and present legal defense strategies to defeat the DMV evidence. Call us today at 323-464-6700 for a free consultation in Los Angeles.