By Dale S. Gribow, Esq.
The DMV hearing, which in the past would take place before a plea was entered, will in most circumstances result in a ruling unfavorable to the driver/defendant. As a rule, DMV hearing officers do not care about anything but the chemical test, though THAT IS NOT THE LAW! If you lose the DMV hearing, your license is likewise suspended as indicated above. However here, you have to wait a minimum of 30 days before you request a restricted license. After 30 days of not having a license, you can apply for the restricted license by paying $125.00 to DMV and again showing proof of enrollment in a required DUI program and showing proof of insurance by filing an SR-22. The court suspension is different from the DMV suspension, but they result in the same challenge for a defense lawyer.
There are only three issues at the DMV hearing after you completed a blood or breath test. They are set forth on the back of the DMV paper you received. The main issue is if the officer had probable cause to stop or contact you and whether the chemical test is beatable. The DMV has the burden of proof on all three issues and must win on all three issues to take your license away. However, the DMV does not use the same rules of evidence as the courts do and they usually win 98% of these DMV Hearings.
By statute DMV is black and white. The hearing officers have NO authority to negotiate or extend courtesies. Unless we ask you to attend the DMV Hearing, you should not appear. While you have the right to be at your own hearing, it is not always a good idea for the following reasons:
First: You won’t understand why you should not make a statement.
Second: Most DMV Hearings are arguments over evidence, not facts. In my experience Clients don’t understand the difference between evidence and facts when they are sitting in the hearing room, no matter how much we try to explain it to them when they are in our office. Most clients are convinced that if they “plead for their license”, the hearing officer will have pity on them and give them a break. (They might pity you, but they will still take your license. DMV hearing officers have no authority to “Plea Bargain” or deviate from the statutory penalties.)
Third: If you are present, the DMV hearing officer could very well call you, the client, to testify under oath to clear up an issue that we could otherwise win. This is an administrative hearing and thus does not follow the same rules that we would follow in a courtroom. In court the DA could not call you to testify if we did not put you on the stand. Since the DMV hearing is taped the DA could get the tape with your admissions, which may hurt your court case. DMV hearings are usually not successful because the DMV Hearing Officer is the Prosecutor AND the Judge


At a DMV hearing, our office has to knock out one DMV issue to save your license and for you to avoid paying a fee to reissue the license. If so, that would require your having to show proof of car insurance by filing an SR-22. If you had a driver’s license from another state then instead of a California SR-22, you would obtain a AAMBA SR-22 from your insurance agent from your home state. There is an additional document that you would get from our DMV when the proof of insurance is not from California.
When you are arrested for a DUI the arresting officer takes your California Drivers License and issues you a pink temporary license that is good for 30 days. IF your lawyer requests a hearing within 10 days and also requests a STAY, then your license is good until the results of the DMV hearing. If you lose the DMV hearing or enter a plea to the court, then in order to get a license to drive you must file an SR-22 with DMV, showing proof of insurance (along with your paying a reissuance fee and showing proof you have enrolled in the correct DUI class).
If you had a DUI with an accident and you talk to your insurance carrier please do NOT volunteer info that you had a DUI. It is their responsibility to find that out. Even if you had a traffic accident the carrier does NOT always know that alcohol was involved.


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