SAN DIEGO DMV Hearing Lawyer
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including felony or accident DUIs in Vista, I can help you. I am drunk driving attorney Peter M. Liss, and I am highly experienced in California DUI law and have a proven track record of success defending clients against these charges. I can also help those facing a driver’s license suspension by the California DMV, but you must act quickly as you only have 10 days after the day of your arrest to file for a hearing to protect your driving privileges. Please call me at (760) 643-4050 for a free consultation and to learn more about the Department of Motor Vehicles license hearing and suspension process.
The Initial Suspension
When you are arrested for drunk driving, the officer will typically take away your license, but you will still be able to drive for at least 30 days, giving you time to fight the suspension at the DMV.
When Can an Officer Take my License for a DUI?
If you are arrested for driving under the influence, the officer can, and usually will, take your driver’s license if you refuse a blood or breath test or you take a test, and the results show your blood alcohol is .08 % or higher. He may also take it if you take a test where the results cannot be analyzed until later, but the officer believes you may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol based on other factors, such as the way you were driving or your appearance, conduct, or the odor of alcohol.
When an officer takes your license, he will give you a pink piece of paper; this is both a notice that your license is suspended and a 30-day temporary driver’s license.
A law enforcement officer cannot physically seize the license from an out-of-state driver because that document is technically the property of the state in which it was issued. Even if the officer did not take your license, you still cannot drive within California state limits. Many states will also suspend your driving privileges if they learn your license was suspended due to a DUI in California.
What Should I do When my License is Suspended?
You or your criminal defense lawyer MUST call the San Diego DMV within 10 days of your arrest to request a hearing to contest the administrative suspension. If you don’t file a petition for a hearing within this time, you will automatically lose your license for four months. If you request a hearing and it is scheduled for more than 30 days after your arrest, your DMV attorney can request an extension of your temporary driver’s license for that period. There is no penalty for requesting a hearing.
The License Suspension Hearing
While you will be given a criminal court date as soon as you are released from jail, assuming you post bail, you must request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest, or you forfeit your right to fight the automatic license suspension. The decision in the DMV hearing will not affect your criminal case one way or the other.
Do I have to Schedule a DMV Hearing?
While the hearing is not mandatory and will not affect your criminal case, it is an invaluable opportunity for multiple reasons, so you should always take advantage of it. Aside from allowing you to protect your driving privileges, these administrative hearings are also quite valuable in that they enable you to obtain the police report, hear the evidence against you, and challenge the officer’s testimony and the chemical test results. In many ways, the license suspension hearing can work as a practice trial for you and your attorney, allowing you to better prepare for the official court date.
If you cannot, or do not wish to, make it to the administrative hearing in San Diego, DMV suspension lawyers can go on your behalf instead. In most misdemeanor cases, your attorney can also attend the criminal hearings in your place, something particularly beneficial for those who cannot take time off but still want to protect their driving privilege and defend their innocence.
What Happens at a DMV Hearing for a DUI License Suspension?
The Department of Motor Vehicles is a distinct agency apart from the court system, and the hearing to contest your license suspension will be separate from your criminal case for the DUI. DMV hearings are overseen by a Driver Safety Officer, who is employed by the DMV and who is not a lawyer or judge. The Driver Safety Officer will decide whether there is a “preponderance” of evidence that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
These DMV hearings are very technical, often involving issues of whether there were procedural or bureaucratic errors, and an experienced San Diego DMV suspension attorney is essential to present your best possible arguments. The hearing officer usually will decide on your suspension until some days or even weeks after the hearing. A decision against you can be “appealed” to the DMV in Sacramento or the Superior Court by filing a writ, although there must be solid legal grounds in your favor for a writ to change the outcome.
Possible Outcomes After the Hearing
If the DMV Upholds my License Suspension, When do I get it Back?
If this is your first DUI arrest in the last ten years, your driver’s license will not be returned for 4 months. If you pay for a restricted license, file proof that you have enrolled in a DUI school, and offer proof of your SR-22 insurance, this can be reduced to 1 month, followed by 5 months of work restriction. Additionally, If you install an ignition interlock device in your car, you can avoid the 1 month hard suspension and drive for any purpose.
If you refused a blood or breath test, the suspension will last for 1 full year and no work restriction is allowed. If you have a second DUI within ten years, your license will be revoked for 1 year (2 years if you refused a blood or breath test).
If you are found guilty of drunk driving, you will face an additional six month suspension concurrent to the immediate suspension you already received. This additional suspension can also be converted to a restricted license or avoided by installing an ignition interlock device.
What if I Plead Guilty to a Lesser Charge or am Found Innocent?
If you plead guilty to a reduced offense, such as wet reckless, and the DUI is dismissed, this will not change your license suspension or revocation as these DMV-instituted DUI penalties are processed outside of the standard court system. However, if you are acquitted (found not guilty) in the Superior Court criminal proceeding, your lawyer will likely be able to obtain a return of your driver’s license.
The same rules apply to the 2 points added to your DMV record when you are convicted for DUI, wet reckless or a hit and run. You cannot remove these points from your record by attending traffic school the way you can if you get a traffic ticket. If you earn enough points in a given period, for example, 4 points in 1 year, you may be subject to another license suspension, but you can fight this with the help of a DMV hearing lawyer in San Diego in a negligent operator hearing.
What Happens if you are Caught Driving on a Suspended License After a DUI?
If the DMV chooses to suspend or revoke your license and you are caught driving, you can be charged with a crime. On a first conviction for driving on a suspended license, you can face 10 days to 6 months in the county jail and a fine of $300 to $1,000. You will also be required to install an ignition interlock device in your car.
If you are charged with driving on a license suspended due to a second or subsequent DUI offense, you will face a minimum of 30 days to a year in jail.