There are over 100,000 DUI arrests in California every year, and for those that are alcohol DUIs, there is a DMV hearing. The DMV hearing itself will be your first right during the DUI process. The purpose of this hearing is to assess whether or not you drove with blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit of 0.08, and to determine if your driver's license should be suspended.
Here, the burden of proof is on you to show that your license should not be suspended. That is the only decision that will be made from this hearing. Still, you have almost all of the same rights that you would have during the criminal process when you face the DUI charge. The first key difference here is that you do have a right to an attorney to represent you at this hearing. You do not have the right to have an attorney paid for you for this hearing.
Rights at a DMV Hearing
The DMV hearing process in California is not as formal as the criminal court process. You have the right to a DMV hearing, and must request a hearing within 10 days of the DUI charge. If you have a lawyer, your attorney can make this arrangement for you.
It is often better to have your attorney make the scheduling for you here. It is usually the same attorney that is handling the rest of your case. They will know the best timing for your DUI case and how to coordinate the DMV hearing.
Your case will be heard by a DMV hearing officer and not a trial judge. This makes the process somewhat more informal and less intimidating for you. You will also have the DMV hearing either over the phone, or in an office as opposed to a courtroom.
Another right you have is to show evidence pertaining to the day in question. When you were charged or arrested, you were unable to explain yourself completely. Here, you will have that right. The burden of proof is on you to indicate why your driver's license should not be suspended.
At a DMV hearing, the burden is on you to challenge the evidence. In a DUI this can happen in a number of ways.
The police report will be key in presenting the evidence. Your attorney will work to challenge the results of the Breathalyzer, and may also challenge whether or not it was a faulty tool at the time. The DUI checkpoint rules and rights may be reviewed here. If you were charged at a checkpoint that was not legal, your case could be dismissed completely.
Your attorney can subpoena witnesses that were there at the time of your arrest. This can include a police officer subpoena. Dash cam footage of the event in question can also be subpoenaed.
You also have the right to testify for yourself.
The decision about your drivers license will not be made at the hearing. You will get the decision in the mail in 30 days. Here you will find out if your license has been suspended, and for how long. If it is suspended, that will go into effect within a few days of receiving the letter. This will be clearly defined in the letter.
When you are facing a DMV hearing, it can be scary and overwhelming. Fighting a DUI can be extremely stressful, as this experience can impact every area of your life. You don't have to go through this alone. At the H Law Group, our California DUI attorneys are former prosecutors that know what judges and DMV hearing officers need to hear to find in your favor. Call us and book a consultation on your case today.