If you should ever be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in California, you will face two separate legal proceedings: a criminal DUI charge and a hearing with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to decide what will happen with your driver's license. While the criminal aspect of your DUI case will revolve around the possibility of penalties such as jail time or expensive fines, the DMV case is an administrative procedure that solely concerns your driving privileges.
Upon being arrested for DUI, your arresting officer will confiscate your license and give you a "notice of suspension" that allows you to drive for a maximum of 30 days. At the end of this period, your license will be suspended unless you successfully contest your suspension at a DMV administrative hearing. Since you will only have 10 days from the date of your arrest to request a hearing, it is imperative you act as quickly as possible.
While DMV hearings are in many ways more relaxed than court trials, they are still very serious and must be treated as such. Instead of a judge, a DMV hearing officer with no legal training will preside over your hearing and determine whether or not it is appropriate to uphold or overturn your suspension. DMV license suspension hearings also operate on a lesser burden of proof than a criminal trial, meaning that it is much easier for the hearing officer to prove your guilt than in a criminal proceeding.
California law allows individuals to be represented by an attorney at a DMV hearing, though they must retain an attorney at their own expense.
At your DMV hearing, you will be given the opportunity to:
The outcome of your DMV hearing will mainly be based on whether the officer had reasonable suspicion that you were under the influence of alcohol, whether or not you were arrested lawfully, and whether your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeded the legal limit of 0.08%. If you win your DMV hearing, your license suspension will be overturned and you will maintain the right to drive. If you lose, your license will be suspended anywhere from four months to three years' time, depending on if you have prior DUI offenses and whether or not you refused a chemical test.
If you have been arrested for DUI, the powerful Orange County DUI lawyers at the Law Office of Frances Prizzia can provide the aggressive advocacy you need to maximize your chances of maintaining your driving privileges. Backed by a "Superb" Avvo Rating and nearly a decade's worth of criminal defense experience, your case is sure to be in excellent hands.
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