The Department of Motor Vehicles is responsible for suspending or revoking your driver’s license. This occurs when you get convicted for driving under the influence of drugs or committing other driving offenses. Battling the Department of Motor Vehicles for your driving privileges can be a frustrating task. This is because the policies and processes of the DMV in California are complex and not readily known to the general public. Whatever the situation you are undergoing, the Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer is ready to guide you. We offer free consultations and representation services for residents in Orange County, CA, for the best possible outcome in your case.

What Leads to California’s DMV License Suspension?

The California State Department of Motor Vehicle will suspend your driver's license for various reasons. The most common reasons for a DMV license suspension include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or other illegal drugs

  • Failure to show up for a court hearing

  • Failing to pay court files for different cases held against you

  • Repetition of the same traffic offense

  • Failing to pay child support

  • Felonies involving motor vehicle

  • Last of automobile insurance ad

  • Fleeing from the police

  • Refusal to take tests at DUI checkpoints.

License Suspension for DUI

If you get arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, or any other DUI related crime, the DMV will seek to suspend your license. Additionally, if you are an out of state driver, you may lose your home-state license for a DUI conviction in California. DMV hearings are held to determine if your driver’s license will be suspended. These hearings are also known as Per Se and are based on your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the arrest.

Drivers arrested for an alleged DUI offense are entitled to a DMV hearing. This will allow you to contest the suspension of your driver’s license. However, there are some exceptions to these privileges. If you get arrested for underage DUI or refusal to submit to the post-arrest chemical tests, you may get a one-year automatic suspension on your driver’s license. You will also not get granted a restricted license.

After an arrest, you will be given time to file for a DMV hearing. With the help of a competent DUI lawyer, you can be able to save your driving privileges. A victorious DMV hearing puts hold on your license suspension. This will apply for the period your DUI criminal case will be ongoing. If you don’t file for the hearing, your driver’s license will automatically get suspended.

California DUI DMV Hearing

In California, most drivers who get arrested and charged with DUI have an opportunity to fight license suspension by the DMV. The DMV hearing is an administrative case that is held in the DMV office independent of your DUI criminal case. The main aim of conducting this hearing is to determine whether your license will be suspended after getting arrested for DUI.

After an arrest for drunk driving, the arresting officer confiscates your license and issues you a notice of suspension. This notice acts as your license for thirty (30) days following your arrest. Additionally, this document will give you advice on your entitlement to a DMV hearing. The DMV expects you to request this hearing within (10) ten days. Failure to this, your license will automatically get suspended for four (4) months.

When you request a DMV hearing, the suspension of your license will be put on hold. These hearings are not as intense as the hearings for a DUI criminal case and are presided over by a DUI officer. Also, the amount of evidence required to prove guilt is significantly less. The DMV hearing of your DUI will take place in an office or over the phone. You will not be required to go to a criminal court. Despite the informality of the DMV hearing, you have a right to:

  • Review evidence presented

  • Challenge the evidence by bringing in your witnesses

  • Cross-examine witnesses

  • Testify for yourself

To schedule your hearing, you must contact the DMV driver safety branch office. This is where it will be held. Your DUI defense attorney may show up on your behalf for these hearings. If the DMV decides to conduct the hearing over the phone, your attorney can also talk on your behalf. The following issues will be considered before determining your fate at the DMV hearing:

  • Whether the arresting officer had probable cause to make the arrest. In DUI cases, the likely reason is a suspicion that you were driving under the influence of alcohol.

  • Did the arresting officer violate any of your rights during the arrest?

  • Your blood alcohol content at the time of the arrest. Driving with a blood alcohol content greater than 0.08% gets treated as a separate offense from DUI. If you refuse to take a breath or blood test, the prosecutor will want to find out whether the arresting officer informed you of the consequences of rejecting the tests. After considering all these factors, the DMV hearings officer may decide to suspend your license. A victory in your DUI DMV hearing will set aside the action of suspending your license and allow you to retain your driving privilege

What Defenses Can I Present in my DUI DMV Hearing?

To prove DUI in California, a prosecutor must show proof that you were in actual control of the vehicle. If the arresting officer did not observe you driving, you could use the no driving defense for your DUI DMV hearings. Legal requirements set by California DUI law does not allow DUI arrests to be made at DUI sobriety checkpoints. Getting arrested in these areas is illegal. Therefore, you can successfully challenge the facts presented in your DUI DMV hearing.

Arresting Officer Mistakes Defense 

Mistakes made by police officers during your arrest is a fruitful place to find ways you can defend your license during a DMV hearing. Law enforcement officers will stop you when they have the slightest suspicion that you broke the law. Some stops are illegal, and if you were stopped for proper conduct, you need to point the mistake out for your defense I the DMV hearing. If the officer lacked probable cause to arrest you for DUI, the DMV hearing officer should set aside the suspension of your driver’s license. One of the reasons you can use to show that you got arrested without probable cause is that you got involved in an accident and started drinking when you got home, after which officers came to interview you.

California Title 17 regulations dictate how the field sobriety tests are supposed to be carried out and at the right checkpoints. These checkpoints are only legal if the arresting officer follows the required procedure. The officer is also supposed to observe you for a minimum of fifteen (15) minutes. This is to ensure you don’t eat, drink, vomit, or do anything that would compromise the results before conducting the breath test. A DUI arrest is subject to scrutiny if the arresting officer did not strictly follow the regulations.

You can show that these procedures were not strictly followed by obtaining and presenting as evidence the checkpoint packet. During all the DMV hearings, the prosecutor is expected to prove that the underlying arrest was lawful. This will include the sobriety tests carried out to prove that you were intoxicated at the time of the arrest. Before the hearing, the police report made at your arrest should get signed by both the officer's supervisor as well as a DMV hearing. If the form is used, it violates the statue and cannot be used as evidence against you.

Procedural DMV Hearing Defense

You can preset the hearing defenses which have nothing to do with the facts of your case. However, they provide they allow you to eat the Department of Motor Vehicle used on how your DMV hearing was conducted. Sometimes the hearing officer lacks complete knowledge of the law when handling your case.

Sometimes the hearing officers lack enough evidence and document to pursue your license suspension; they may purpose to recover your case at a later date. This will give them time to gather more evidence. If this happens during your case, you should object to it.

The DMV should give you proper notice on the date of your hearing, however, if it collides with other essential matters you can request for a continuance. Although hearsay can be used during DMV hearings, it should be the sole evidence to suspend your license. You can oppose using of hearsay without showing proof of exception

Challenging Chemical Tests

You can try to fight license suspension by challenging the Breathalyzer test at the DMV DUI hearing. The current law requires these instruments to undergo regular accuracy checks. You can argue that the devices were faulty to invalidate the results. This will increase the chances of reversing the DMV’s intention of suspending your license. Sometimes the arresting officer fails to offer you the Breathalyzer; thus, there lacks BAC test results to be used in the DMV hearing.

There are other numerous reasons which can elevate your BAC to 0.08% or more. You can give alternative explanations such as a high carbohydrate diet and medical conditions such as diabetes or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Proof that you suffered from any of these conditions can help you win the DMV DUI hearing. Before carrying out the chemical tests, the arresting officer should inform you that your driver's license will be suspended if you fail to submit to the test. The officer may forget to give you the written admonition or decided to interpret in their understanding instead of giving it to you. This defense can set aside the suspension of your driver’s license at the DMV DUI hearing.

PAS Test Defenses

For motorists under 21years or those on DUI probation, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.01% or higher. This allows law enforcers to use the less reliable preliminary alcohol screening test instead of the regular blood and breath tests. Since the PAS test is not subject to regulations of Title 17, it doesn't carry the reliability that goes with chemical testing. Accordingly, the Department of Motor vehicles must prove that this test is reliable and can act as a basis to suspend your driver's license during the DMV hearing. This defense is sufficient evidence against your PAS tests since the DMV has to call both the arresting officer ad PAS calibration officer as witnesses. You cause their lack of adequate foundation to discredit this evidence.

Test Refusal Defenses

Even when your tests are fine in the long run, refusing to take chemical or sobriety tests, is an offense. The traffic officer is obliged to advise you on the consequences of refusing to take the test, which includes DMV license suspension or revocation. The DMV has the burden to prove that the arresting officer carried out proper admonishment. Sometimes the officer will cause you confusion y failure to explain the rules or overdoing it correctly.

If you can prove that the admonishment was not properly done or was not done at all, you can discredit the officer's testimony. Some officers will often treat a lack of cooperation as a refusal. On most occasions, you may tend to verify the credibility and the license of the person taking your blood test. Most of these inquiries are met by a refusal statement. If you can testify for yourself during the DMV hearing, you can deny the refusal.

Due process requires that you are given early notice of the hearing ad a fair opportunity to challenge the officer's statements. This is given during the arrest when the officer confiscates your license. If the notice is not given ad you fail to appear for the hearing, your attorney can help you present the defense of improper hearing notice.

The Relationship Between a DUI Criminal Case and the DMV Hearing

The DMV DUI hearing doesn’t care if you committed the criminal offense that you are charged for by the state. The DMV hearing will exclusively focus on the circumstances that surround your arrest. They will also determine if you get to retain your driving privileges. However, the result of the DUI criminal case can affect the DMV hearing. If your criminal case gets dismissed, the DMV cannot suspend your driver’s license.

DMV Hearing Outcomes

If you win the DMV hearings and your license suspension is put aside, you will retain your driving privileges. The win may also help you acquire a better deal in your DUI criminal case. If your DMV hearing reveals that your criminal case is flawed, the prosecutor may be convinced to dismiss the case. However, it is essential to understand that winning the DMV hearing does not guarantee a win in the DUI criminal case.

If the Department of Motor Vehicle determines that you are a negligent operator ad you lose the DMV hearing, the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license will go through. The suspension of your driver's license will take away all your driving privileges, and you won’t be allowed to operate any motor vehicle legally. The severity of your suspension will depend on the reason it was suspended. Suspension time varies from minor offenses like failure to appear in court to suspension for serious felony offenses such as vehicular manslaughter.

The length of the driver’s license restriction will also be dependent on your criminal history. For first-time DUI offenders, the license suspension will last six (6) to ten (10) months. However, even after you lose, your DUI attorney can use some information from the hearing to encourage a reduction of the suspension period. After one (1) month, you will have an opportunity to convert your suspension into a restricted license. This is after the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car.

An IID is a small DUI Breathalyzer. It is installed near the steering of your vehicle after obtaining a restricted license. You are required to low through the device before starting or while operating your vehicle. If the registered results are higher than the programmed blood alcohol concentration, your engine will not start. This device prevents you from operating your car unless you provide an alcohol-free breath sample. Also, the device is designed in such a way that only the driver can provide a breath sample. When the DMV issues you a restricted license, they will mandate the installation of this device at your own cost.

DMV suspension resulting from an accumulation of points may lead to the suspension which will go to effect 34 days after the issuance of the order. If the DUI caused an injury or you refused to take the chemical tests, your license will be suspended for one (1) year. For individuals who refuse to take the test after causing an accident, there won’t be an opportunity to obtain a restricted license.

For a second and third DUI, your license will be suspended for two (2) and three (3) years respectively. This is after losing the DMV DUI hearing. If you violate any suspension order or get charged for another traffic offense during the suspension period, your license may get entirely revoked.

DMV License Suspension FAQ

  1. What is a Reinstatement Interview?

    If you have suffered a suspension or revocation of your driver's license, the only person who can lift the suspension and get to give your driving privileges back is a DMV hearing officer. As soon as the period of suspension ends, you can petition the DMV for driver’s license reinstatement.

  2. What is Stay of Suspension?

    If the California Department of Motor Vehicle has announced its intention to suspend your driver's license, the Vehicle Code mandates that you are given time to present evidence and testimonies to refute the information they hold. Sometimes you may qualify a stay meaning the suspension of your license will be put on hold until the hearing process is complete.

  3. What is the Difference between a Reexamination and a DMV Hearing?

    Re-examination is an investigation carried out by the driver safety before your DMV hearing. On the other hand; a hearing is done when the DMV already has an intention to revoke or suspend your driver's license. You must request your hearing within 10 days after getting arrested for DUI. The hearing is more like a trial, and evidence to justify the station to suspend your license is provided. Also, you are allowed to be represented by an attorney and present your defense.

  4. What happens if I Don’t fight to keep my Driving Privileges?

    If the Department of Motor Vehicle decides to suspend your license, you have the right to fight the suspension during a DMV hearing. However, you can decide not to pursue the DMV hearing and go to the DMV field Office and surrender your driver's license. There is nothing wrong with not having a driver's license except losing the right to operate a motor vehicle, and you can apply for a California Identity card.

  5. Why Does the DMV Suspend a Driver’s License for Lack of Skill?

    Before a new driver is issued with a California driver’s license, they must demonstrate to the Department of Motor Vehicle that they have the driving skill. Often, this will be established by taking both a written and a driving test. As the years pass by and one gets to old age, the frequency of driving reduces ad they lose the skill. If your arrest resulted from a mistake done due to a lack of expertise, the DMV would seek to suspend or revoke your license.

Find a Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer Near Me

If you are facing a license suspension threat from the DMV for a DUI or other driving-related offenses, it is crucial to contact a DUI defense lawyer to guide you in the case. At Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer, we will investigate the circumstances surrounding your arrest and offer solid legal advice. Our team of competent attorneys serves the Orange County area giving residents a chance to fight for their driving privileges successfully. Call us today at 714-820-9592 and allow us to handle your case.