Vista DUI Attorney Law Firm is a reputable criminal defense law firm based in Vista, CA. The firm’s attorneys have expertise in practicing California criminal defense law and can handle all types of criminal cases. In case of an arrest for committing a driving offense (mostly a drunk-driving related offense), the charges pressed can take two separate proceedings. First, a state’s prosecutor will file the driving charges in the court. Second, the Department of Motor Vehicles will determine whether to suspend, revoke, or withhold the status of your driving license. A DMV Office conducts a DMV Hearing with the sole focus on a person’s driving privileges.

What is a California DMV Hearing?

Unlike other crimes that take place in courts of crime, DMV Hearings are administrative procedures by the department’s offices. After a driving crime arrest, the DMV hearing is key in determining what happens with your license. In an arrest due to driving under influence (DUI) under PEN 23153, the police officer in charge should confiscate your driving license by providing a suspension notice. The notice is temporary and lasts for a period of thirty days. 

A suspension notice after the arrest helps in preventing your license suspension upon a request for a drunk-driving DMV case within 10 days from your arrest. Failure to request a DMV hearing within the 10 days from arrest will lead to an automatic suspension of your license after 30 days from your arrest. However, you might be eligible to claim back the driver license under certain conditions:

  • If you agree to enroll in a DUI institution in California
  • If you submit a form of insurance legally known as SR-22
  • Adhere to a payment of $125 as a reinstatement fee
  • Accept to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for four years.

It is essential that a driver request a DUI hearing so as to prevent his/her license from being suspended automatically after the temporary license expires. This kind of hearing under California law can only work within a 10 days period from the day that one is arrested. You are likely to lose your license rights once you don’t request for the hearing within the stipulated time limit.

Do I Have any Rights During a DUI DMV Hearing?

The procedure under California DMV hearings are more relaxed, unlike the normal court hearings. During such hearings, a DMV officer takes charge in the case proceedings and not a judge. The DMV officer in most cases does not possess formal training from any legal California law institution. More so, in the hearing, the department is easily satisfied with the evidence presented, therefore proving that you are guilty is not as difficult compared with hearings associated with criminal court proceedings. 

Despite the fact that most of the time these hearings tend to be informal (office set-up), or in some cases through a phone call, one is entitled to various rights that are important during the hearings. The accused has the right to: 

  1. Hire an attorney to defend him/her during the hearing;
  2. Look into the evidence and challenge them;
  3. Present witnesses;
  4. Examine witnesses; and
  5. Testify on his/her behalf.

A DUI DMV Scheduling Procedure

Making contact with the office that deals with safety to the driver will be essential in scheduling your DMV hearing. The offices have the authorization to conduct a hearing. They totally differ from the old DMV offices that deal with obtaining licenses or registration of vehicles. In the event that you hire your own DUI DMV defense attorney, she/he should be the one to make contact with the DMV driver safety branch and request for a hearing, which must be within 10 days after your arrest. The DUI DMV defense attorney can attend the hearing for you; therefore, it would be needless to attend the hearing unless you are to testify on your behalf. More often, the DUI DMV hearings are conducted through phone calls instead of personal representation.

Can one possibly win a DUI DMV Case Hearing?

It is both Yes and No. This depends on considerable issues the hearing officer would use in order to conduct a successful DUI DMV case. DUI DMV cases in California are big and broad in the sense that for a hearing to take place, the DMV officer will put into consideration three issues before commencing the hearing. These issues are;

  • There must be solid evidence that indeed you were under influence while driving;
  • That the officer who arrested you was following the law; therefore, the arrest was legal;
  • That while driving, the concentration of alcohol in your blood exceeded 0.08%. A

BAC exceeding 0.08% while driving is illegal according to vehicle penal code 23153 (b) and is treated and charged differently from driving under influence (DUI) which is illegal according to vehicle penal code 23152 (a). DUI DMV hearing comes in this case if the arresting officer alleges that you did not accept to take a blood alcohol concentration test. 

The arresting officer would proof beyond doubt that you really didn’t give in to a BAC test only if; he/she during the arrest explained to you the consequences of refusing to submit such as, suspending your driving privileges for a year or revoking it for a period of two to three years, and that even after explaining the above to you, you still willfully refused to submit the blood or breath test. 

Based on the above issues, a DMV officer in charge will then make a decision of suspending your driving license and/or reverse the verdict of suspending the driving license. Reversing the verdict leads to the retention of your license.

Can I be Defended during a California DUI DMV Hearing?

Your defense attorney (DUI) has a right to present some legal arguments for your defense. These are the common DUI defense presented at the hearing:

  1. You weren’t driving during the arrest. This is evidently defendable if the officer who arrested you did not actually see who was driving and is not able to present a witness to testify that indeed you were the driver during the arrest. In addition, if there is lack of basic establishment that you actually were the driver during the arrest, then the DMV officer would consider this fact in your defense. For instance, after drinking you went into your car and felt drunk – a reason not to drive. You decide to have a nap in your driver’s seat until you feel okay to drive. Unfortunately, a police officer finds you, notices you are drunk and arrests you for a DUI offense. This is an unlawful arrest because you were not driving during the arrest.
  2. California DUI sobriety checkpoint is not a legal license checkpoint for DUI drivers. If arrested at such a station, the DUI DMV attorney would argue for your defense. This is because the DUI checkpoint for sobriety would have not met the legal requirement stipulated for California DUI offenses. This illegal arrest then translates to defense in your DUI DMV hearing despite the fact that you were driving under influence.
  3. Similarly, if the attorney representing you for a DUI DMV hearing realizes beyond doubt that the arresting officer had no proper reason for your arrest, he will argue in your defense. An example of an improper arrest is a stop based on your race or ethnicity despite the fact that you obeyed all the California traffic laws, or you caused an accident when you were not drunk; On reaching home, you decided to have a couple of drinks then the traffic officer enters for an interview over the accident. He realizes that you are drinking and makes an assumption that you caused the accident due to drunk driving which wasn’t the case. The allegation is untrue and therefore, the DUI DMV hearing officer at your hearing should set aside the suspension of your license.
  4. Under the code of regulations in California, a BAC test should take about 15 minutes. It also explains how breath or blood test procedures are done, how it is obtained, stored and the analysis. If the arresting officer didn’t observe California’s Regulations in Title 17, the arrest is termed illegal in California. The officer is supposed to make an observation on the person for a minimum of 15 minutes after taking a test in order to minimize the chances of the suspect vomiting, eating or drinking, and/or smoking because this act tends to alter the test results. Failure to observe this would yield inaccurate results leading to a perception that the suspect’s BAC did not exceed 0.08% during the drive and therefore, the suspect stands a chance to win in the DMV hearing.
  5. The instruments for testing breath should be maintained properly to prevent inaccuracy and malfunctioning as regulated by California Title 17 Regulations. Any fault in the breath test instruments (lack of calibrations or improper working) may lead to inaccurate BAC test levels. The law requires that the instruments should be checked for accuracy after every 10 days of service which is equivalent to 150 blows. If the standards above are not adhered to, inaccurate results in BAC tests will be delivered hence, the DMV hearing would reverse the suspension of your driving license.
  6. Physiologically, diets rich in proteins and low in carbohydrates might lead to a higher BAC (exceeding 0.08%) and not necessarily alcohol drinking. Medically, acidic reflux and heartburns can alter the level of BAC to increase and not forgetting residues of alcohol in the mouth that can as well alter the percentage of BAC. If you encountered these conditions during the time of providing a sample of breath, you might not have been driving under a BAC greater than 0.08% even if the test says otherwise. Based on this evidence, your attorney may argue for your defense.
  7. If it happens that you were not advised by the officer on the consequences associated with refusal for submission to a blood or chemical test, then your license should not be suspended. It is a requirement that at the time of arrest, the officer should explain to you about a year license suspension if you would not comply with a blood or chemical test. This advice is always documented and read to you word by word by the officer. Failure to do this as a result of the officer forgot to read to you, or refused to read it to you, or reads and interprets the admonition in his own understanding thus confusing you on what to do, renders you a win during the DMV hearing

How Does a DMV Hearing Relate with a DUI Court Proceeding?

DMV DUI proceedings do not consider the fact that you committed a crime unlike the case of a DUI court proceeding but they consider the violations against driving laws. The DMV officer focuses only on what led to your arrest and establishes whether or not to suspend your driving license. Proceedings from both DUI court hearing and DMV hearing have a close relationship. The testimonies presented during your hearing at a California DMV can possibly help in convincing prosecutor for either a dismissal of your license suspension or reduce the charges as negotiated during a plea bargain under a DUI.

If during the court proceedings you are given a verdict to prove your innocence under VC 23152 (b) (driving under a BAC exceeding 0.08%), the DMV office is forced to set aside your license. However, if the court dismisses a DUI offense reducing the charges, the DMV hearing is unaffected; therefore, the hearing would proceed on suspending your license. 

The significant difference between a DUI and DMV hearing is the complexity of the trials. Trials in DUI hearings are more complex with the attorneys having to explore much more legal defense in an attempt to defend your DUI charges. DMV cases are presided over by a DMV officer working in the Department of Motor Vehicles. On the contrary, a DUI court proceeding is under the governorship of a judge or 12 Jurors if it leads to a trial, who must agree in unison before you’re convicted as guilty. It is important to have an attorney that is knowledgeable with both DUI and DMV hearings for your DUI DMV hearing because of how the proceedings differ.

What Happens in Case of a DMV Hearing Win?

Emerging the winner through legal defense procedures in the hearing requires that the officer hearing your case sets a re-issue of the charges; hence, your license suspension dismissed. Nevertheless, winning a DMV hearing is not a guarantee for a win in the court. The prosecutor might have his/her own reasons to carry out the court trials even after a win in the DMV hearing. This is because the proceedings in DUI hearing are different from a DMV hearing. If found guilty, the jury has the power and the right over your license suspension; hence, the need to have an attorney with experience in defending both the cases in court and in DMV offices.

Losing a DMV DUI Case and its Consequences

In case you lose in the DMV DUI hearing, your attorney can still defend you during the DUI criminal case. Through pleading and bargaining or simply winning the court trial will require the DMV officer to un-suspend your driving license even if it would have been suspended. But in the case of losing during the hearing at the DMV, your driving privileges and license would be suspended or revoked effectively. How long the restriction or suspension of your license is dependent on whether you are committing the offense for the first time, second time, or it is a recurring offense. 

If it happens to be your first offense, your privileges would be under a suspension for a maximum of 12 months. However, one month after suspension, you might request for a license under restrictions which gives you the right to go to work while driving and to a DUI school. This restriction is effective if you attend DUI classes, submit an insurance form known as SR-22 and/or pay a reinstatement fee of $125. If the DMV hearing officer and the DUI judge find out that in your first DUI offense you caused injuries or didn’t agree on taking a BAC or chemical test, or the test exceeds 0.08%, you won’t have the privileges.

A second DUI offense with a period of ten years will allow DMV to suspend the license for two years upon losing a DMV hearing. Your suspension can be converted into restriction after a year by doing the above. In the event that your DUI offense was under the influence of alcohol only without other causes like BAC exceeding 0.08%, you can restrict your suspended license when 90 days are over. For subsequent DUI cases within a 10-year period will subject you to more time length in license suspension if you lose the hearing.

Finding a Vista DMV Hearing Specialist Near Me

In need of help with a DMV hearing in Vista, California? Are you looking for an attorney to represent you? Contact Vista DUI Attorney Law Firm at 760-691-1540 today. Our attorneys, who are well-versed with criminal defense and DMV hearings can examine the particulars of your case and possibly help in mitigating the penalties.