The DMV is the administrative body that maintains your driver’s record, among other functions. It gives out administrative penalties to offenders who commit driving-related offenses, including a DUI.
The DMV takes DUI offenses seriously, punishing even a first offender harshly through license suspension or revocation. A license suspension will make it difficult for you to go to work or travel to other areas. Our DUI attorneys at the Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer can help prevent the license suspension. We handle DUI DMV-related license suspensions to help you protect and restore your driving privileges.
A first DUI offense is always a misdemeanor and a less severe offense compared to subsequent offenses. However, it does not save you from the potential license suspension from the DMV.
When you are arrested for a DUI offense, the first reaction might be fear or panic. You may have questions about how a conviction will affect you as well as the criminal consequences you are likely to face.
One of the glaring truths that may hit you first is the loss of your driving privileges. The arresting officer usually confiscates your driver’s license and gives you a notice of suspension in its place.
That notice of suspension is the DMV's way of saying that they will suspend your license in 30 days. However, you have the chance to challenge the DMV suspension by requesting a DMV hearing.
Those who fail to request a hearing within the allowed ten days will lose their license automatically. However, if you requested the hearing, you will delay the suspension until the hearing is complete.
If you hire an attorney within the first few days of your arrest, he or she can request a hearing on your behalf. However, if you have not found a lawyer by then, you must request the hearing yourself.
Note that every calendar day after your arrest counts. Therefore, request a hearing before the deadline expires.
Preparing for the DMV Hearing
The DMV is keen on punishing drivers who violate the driving rules in California. A DUI is especially frowned upon, making it hard to win a DMV hearing. With the right preparation, you increase the chances of winning the hearing and recovering your driving privileges.
The first thing you need to do before preparing for the hearing is to hire an attorney. Since this is your first DUI, you probably do not know the laws surrounding the hearing. You will, therefore, need an expert who will help you with requesting the hearing and gathering the relevant evidence.
Even if you intend to represent yourself, seek the advice of an attorney. He or she will help you objectively handle the case and increase the chances of winning at the hearing.
Next, you must schedule the hearing or have an attorney schedule the hearing on your behalf. Soon after scheduling the hearing, start to contact the witnesses and subpoena them. Sending out subpoenas to witnesses increases the probability that they will testify on your behalf. Also, you can enforce the subpoena if they fail to show up for the hearing.
You should also familiarize yourself with the DMV process so that you understand your rights. Some of the rights you have during a DMV hearing include:
- The right to have an attorney representing you
- The right to review the evidence
- The right to cross-examine witnesses from the DMV
- The right to subpoena evidence and witnesses
- The right to introduce evidence
- The right to a fair consideration of the case by an impartial person
- The right to request an appeal or departmental review of an adverse decision by the DMV
Your lawyer is there to help you with the case. Therefore, ask any questions you have about the DMV hearing so that you are prepared for what to expect.
When preparing for the hearing, familiarize yourself with the opening and closing remarks as well as the questions you need to ask the witnesses. Having these prepared beforehand will reduce nervousness during the hearing. Avoid memorizing or scripting your testimony so that it does not sound rehearsed.
During the hearing, respect the DMV officer as you would a judge. Remember that the hearing officer is here to decide the fate of your driving privileges. Nevertheless, do not make incriminating remarks such as apologizing for driving drunk. Instead, present your evidence and leave the ruling for the DMV officer.
Ideally, let the attorney handle the hearing on your behalf. You can present yourself in the hearing or let your attorney represent you.
The DMV Hearing
A DMV hearing is an administrative hearing, which a DMV hearing officer conducts to determine whether to suspend your driving privileges. The hearing lacks the formality of a criminal court, but the proceedings are no less serious.
You have ten calendar days from the date of your arrest to request a DMV hearing. You can request the hearing via phone or by visiting the local DMV office.
During the hearing, which could be conducted over the phone or in person, you will present evidence to defend your license.
You can hire a lawyer (at your expense) to represent you during the hearing. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you will have to represent yourself. Your lawyer should be one with the experience of handling DMV hearings.
Your attorney will review the evidence the DMV has and challenge it. The presentation of the evidence is similar to that of a criminal case. The DMV will identify the evidence to allow or that which cannot be allowed into the hearing.
During the DMV hearing, the DMV has the burden of proof. This means that the hearing officer should present evidence that shows the DUI arrest and investigation were lawful and that you were driving under the influence.
Before the hearing begins, you should request the DMV for the evidence it has against you. This will allow you and your attorney to prepare the relevant evidence to defend you.
Your lawyer has permission to bring witnesses and cross-examine them. The goal of your attorney, through the defense, is to convince the DMV that:
- The arresting officer lacked probable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence
- The officer has no lawful cause to arrest you
- You were not driving under the influence
If the allegations include a refusal to take a chemical breath or blood test, the attorney will present evidence to show that:
- The officer did not inform you about the consequences of refusing to submit to the chemical test
- You did not willfully refuse to submit the test upon the request to submit it
Your attorney will use similar defenses that apply during a DUI criminal defense. Therefore, requesting a DMV hearing is an added advantage since your attorney has the chance to evaluate your case and determine the defenses that will work for you.
Some of the defenses he or she can use during the DMV hearing include:
- You were not driving at the time of the arrest or DUI investigation. To oppose this evidence, the DMV has to present witnesses that saw you driving drunk or evidence from which it is reasonable to conclude that you were driving.
- You were arrested at an illegal checkpoint that failed to meet title 17 regulations (therefore making the arrest unlawful)
- The officer did not have probable cause to arrest you or detain you for a DUI. The officer must have probable cause before stopping your car (except at a legal DUI checkpoint). Even at such a checkpoint, he or she has to have probable cause to continue investigating the DUI.
- The arresting officer failed to observe the 15-minute observation period, which enhances the accuracy of the results taken. During the period, the officer should monitor you to ensure that you do not burp, drink anything, or vomit. Such incidents can interfere with the accuracy of the results.
- The breath testing instrument was not working properly due to lack of maintenance or calibration errors
- There are other non-DUI reasons for your DUI such as being on a keto diet or using an alcohol-based mouthwash which increases your BAC level
- The officer failed to advise you about the consequences of a chemical test refusal
- The officer failed to law the right foundation for your BAC result (if you are arrested in violation of California's zero-tolerance laws).
After presenting the evidence, the DMV can take one of two actions, including:
- Suspending your driver’s license
- Reversing the DUI license suspension
If you win the DMV hearing, your attorney can use the DMV results to negotiate a plea deal. However, if you lose, the DMV will suspend your license to six to ten months. You can choose to apply for a restricted license or an IID license to restore some or all of your driving privileges.
After losing the DMV hearing, you can appeal the decision. You can file an appeal directly to the DMV or file it with the California Supreme Court.
The DMV allows you 15 days from the effective day of the license suspension to file an appeal requesting an administrative review. You will have to mail the request for a review and pay a filing fee of $120.
The DMV will review the evidence presented during the hearing and, sometimes, any new exculpatory evidence you may have. The DMV might then choose to:
- Overturn the decision to suspend your license
- Reopen the hearing
- Uphold the decision of the hearing officer to suspend your license
You could also file an appeal through the Supreme Court. The timeline for filing will depend on whether you file an administrative review. If you requested the DMV review, you must file the appeal within 94 days of the administrative review decision. If you did not request an administrative review, you have 34 days to file the appeal. You must also serve the appeal to the DMV and pay a filing fee to the Supreme Court.
Restricted License and IID-Restricted License
If you lose the DMV hearing, you can request to have a restricted driver’s license. You must wait for one month before applying for the license. This means that you must spend one month on hard suspension before the DMV can review your application for a restricted license.
To get a restricted license, you must meet the following conditions:
- Enroll in an approved DUI school
- Get an SR-22 certificate
- Pay a $125 administrative fees
The restricted license allows you limited movements when driving. You can only drive to work, to take a child from school or attend a DUI class.
However, if your driving routine exceeds these three areas, you are better off getting an IID-restricted license. An IID is a small Breathalyzer device you attach to the dashboard of your car. This device monitors your BAC level as you drive.
If you were operating a commercial vehicle at the time of the DUI, you would not qualify for a restricted license.
Usually, it will request a breath sample before you start driving. If you cannot provide a clean sample, the car will not start. To install the device, you need to contact a court-approved California installer and pay the required costs.
You must also present the DMV with proof of insurance and drive with the IID in your car for at least four months. You must be careful to observe the requirements of driving with the IID. In case you violate any requirements, you risk having your license suspended.
DUI Criminal Proceedings and the DMV Hearing
Understanding the differences between the DMV hearing and the criminal court proceedings will help you understand the effects of these proceedings on each other.
An important thing to note is that the two proceedings follow different laws and for different reasons.
Some of the important differences between a DMV hearing and a DUI criminal proceeding include:
- You can choose to request a DMV hearing. The DMV allows you ten days to schedule a hearing. If you miss the deadline, your license is suspended. However, you have no say on whether the prosecution files the charges against you.
- Winning or losing the DMV hearing does not influence the criminal proceedings, the DMV takes action against your driver’s license but cannot impose additional penalties such as jail time, however, the DMV can reverse a license suspension if the court acquits you. Before reversing the license suspension, the DMV will determine whether the court decision equals an acquittal.
- You can request a DMV hearing within a year of your arrest if the DA does not file charges against you. You can also request a hearing if the DA files the case, but it is later dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
- If the prosecution reduces your DUI charge, the DMV will still consider the offense a DUI
- If you lose the DMV hearing and are convicted, you will serve a suspension period of the longest individual suspension. Therefore, if the DMV were to suspend your license for four months, but you are convicted, the suspension period will be six months.
- If you are acquitted, or the court dismisses your case, fill form DS 702, have the DA fill it, and take it to the DMV to clear the license suspension.
The best outcome in a DUI charge is to win both the DMV hearing and the criminal trial. In most situations, however, you will lose one or both of the cases.
The DMV hearing usually does not affect the criminal proceedings. Your attorney can use similar defenses to fight criminal charges. Some defense lawyers also use a win in the DMV hearing win to convince the prosecution to reduce the charges.
However, the outcome of the criminal case will determine the actions the DMV takes on your license. If you are convicted for a DUI, the court will notify the DMV to suspend your driver’s license. Since this is your first offense, you will lose your license for six months.
Saving Your License from a Suspension
A license suspension will make it hard and inconvenient to go to school, work, or attend important activities. However, you can restore your driving privileges immediately or after some time.
You can restore the privileges by requesting a restricted license or an IID restricted license following an administrative license suspension.
If you lose your license due to a conviction, you can apply for a driver’s license reinstatement. Before the DMV can reinstate your license, you will have to:
- Complete the license suspension period. If you are driving on an IID, you must complete that period. The DMV will not reinstate your license until you serve the full suspension period.
- Complete your full jail term or alternative jail time
- Complete DUI School: if your license is suspended for a DUI conviction, you will have to attend DUI School. You should enroll in an approved school for the ordered time. Once you complete the program, get a notice of completion, and present it to the DMV.
- In addition to DUI school, you must complete other court-ordered programs
- Get insurance for your car: as a driver with a DUI, the DMV requires that you show proof of financial responsibility. That means that you must have an auto insurance policy of at least a 15/30/5 coverage. When applying for the coverage, your insurance company could cancel your policy or decline to renew your policy. You will, therefore, have to find another insurance provider.
- Apply for the license reinstatement with the DMV and pay the reissue fee
However, you can save your license by hiring an attorney to defend you. A license suspension after a DUI arrest does not prevent a court-ordered suspension.
Therefore, you have to fight the charges both with the DMV and with the court. Your DUI attorney will work closely with you to come up with the right defense. The defenses your attorney uses will depend on the specific circumstances of your case.
When a License Suspension can Lead to Penalties
A license suspension is inconveniencing, and sometimes, you might find yourself tempted to break the law. The common violation is usually driving with a suspended license, violating the terms of a restricted license, or violating IID requirements.
You are guilty of driving on a suspended license if you intentionally drive when you know your license is suspended. Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor offense with a sentence of six months.
Even if you have a restricted license, you must also observe the laws and restrictions of the license. The DMV can suspend your restricted license if you violate the terms of the license.
You can also face penalties if you violate the terms of an IID restricted license. Some of the violations related to an IID use include:
- Tampering with the device
- Allowing another person to give a sample on your behalf
- Failing to maintain the IID
Other reasons you can receive penalties include:
- You fail to comply with the requirements of the DUI school
- You fail to maintain auto insurance
You can also lose your license again if you are arrested for another DUI offense. The second offense will lead to a longer suspension period.
Find a Orange County DUI Attorney Near Me
The first DUI arrest might lead to the suspension of your driver’s license. You have to take steps to save your license. The first step you need to take is to request a DMV hearing. This hearing is the first step towards defending your license.
During the hearing, you can present the relevant evidence to defend yourself. When you are facing a DMV license suspension for a first offense, you need to hire an attorney. The attorney you hire must be knowledgeable and have experience in dealing with DUI offenses.
At the Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer, we help you restore your license. We take steps to defend you with both the DMV and the court cases. We have extensive experience in dealing with DUI offenses. If you are arrested for a DUI, contact us for help at 714-820-9592.