When you are arrested for drunk driving, you only have 10 days to file for a hearing with the DMV in order to fight the automatic license suspension. This hearing will be completely separate from your courtroom trial and the outcome of one will not affect the other in most cases.
If you do not file for a hearing or if you lose at the hearing, you will be subject to an automatic four month license suspension for a first time DUI arrest. The suspension can be converted to a restricted license after a one month hard suspension. If you are convicted in the trial, 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. If you have already been convicted of drunk driving in the past, the suspension period could be increased to three years.
While the hearing is not mandatory, it is a good opportunity for a number of reasons and you should always take advantage of it. Aside from allowing you to protect your driving privileges, these hearings are also quite useful in allowing you to obtain the police report and hear the evidence against you. In many ways, the DMV license suspension hearing can work as a pre-trial warm up for both you and your Vista DUI lawyer, allowing you to better prepare for the official court date.
It is important to realize that while this may provide you an opportunity to better prepare for your trial, this is not a trial and there will be no jury. In fact, the DMV officials will work as both judge and jury in the hearing.
If your license is reinstated at the hearing, you may resume driving as usual. If your license is suspended, you may be able to obtain a restricted license if you take the DUI program (which the court will also require), maintain insurance on your vehicle and give the DMV an extra fee for the restricted license. If this is your second DUI, you will also have to install an ignition interlock device (IID) to obtain a restricted license. Some California counties even require the IID for a first DUI conviction.
Because you only have 10 days to file for this hearing, it is critical you get in touch with your Vista DUI lawyers as soon as you are accused of drinking and driving. Otherwise, the window may close and you may lose your driving privileges. In many cases, your attorney may be able to attend the hearing in your place so you will not have to be present.
If you have any questions about the DMV hearing, please call Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050.
Creative Commons Image by Seth Thomas Rasmussen