If You Are Facing a DMV Hearing Due to a DUI Charge
1. You MUST contact the DMV within ten days of your arrest or your license will be suspended,
regardless of whether there is a legitimate case against you
2. A court-appointed attorney (public defender) cannot represent you at the DMV
3. The rules of DMV administrative hearings are different than court rules
If you have been arrested for DUI
If you have been arrested for DUI, you face criminal charges by the Court and administrative charges by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV process is different from and independent of the court process. The DMV can suspend your license. The length of the suspension depends on factors such as your blood alcohol level, prior DUI history, and whether you refused a blood alcohol test.
The odds are against an unrepresented driver
It is very difficult to defend yourself at the DMV hearing. The DMV hearing officer acts as both prosecutor and judge and does not care about your need to drive. In fact, the DMV officer is not allowed to consider this issue when deciding your case.
In this administrative setting, the rules of evidence are more relaxed than they are in Court. For example, the DMV can use information directly from the police report as evidence against you during your hearing – the police officer does not have to actually be there to testify – and the DMV officer is trained to rely on the police report over your testimony. Also, some “hearsay” statements can be lawfully used against DMV.
How to beat the odds
You can prevail at a DMV hearing. To do so, you must know how and when to present evidence; you must know what evidence to object to and on what grounds it is to be excluded and your rights with the applicable laws. The best way to defend yourself is with experienced legal representation. By hiring an experienced attorney, you are more likely to retain your license.
Avoid the DMV Ten-Day Trap
You or your attorney MUST contact the DMV within ten calendar days of your arrest to request a hearing. You were given notice of this in small print on your temporary license (the pink paper the officer gave you in place of your plastic license). Once the ten days expire, the DMV will suspend your license, even if the case against you is weak and should be set aside (that is, no license suspension imposed).
The law considers losing your license a less severe consequence, so you are not entitled to appointed counsel to represent you at a DMV hearing. You must hire a lawyer or represent yourself.
Negligent Operator Hearings
The DMV maintains a “Point Count” system whereby if you accumulate too many points the department will seek to suspend your license for a minimum of six months. Points are assigned for traffic tickets, “public offenses” like DUI or reckless driving and traffic accidents. However, all is not lost because as long as you take swift and decisive action.
The DMV gives you a very short window to request a hearing or lose your rights (generally not more than 14 days.) Often times an experienced attorney can save your privilege to drive, but time is of the essence!
Loss of Skills and Medical Re-Evaluations
The DMV can suspend or revoke your license, based upon information provided to them by a police officer or even your family doctor, if they believe that you have lost your driving skills or have a medical condition that allegedly impacts your safe operation of a motor vehicle.
However all is not lost! This type of case can be complicated and require special skills and sensitivities. Only an experienced DMV attorney should be trusted with this matter. Self representation can easily fail or end up worsening your case. Don’t become a victim of age discrimination or a careless medical professional reporting you to the DMV.
Contact our Criminal Defense Office
No appointment needed.