If you face an arrest for DUI in Anaheim, California, you must face the court and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The judge decides if you are guilty and your punishment, while the DMV decides if you can keep your driver's license. The DMV will start a process to take away your driver's license, especially if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test.

Retaining a criminal lawyer to help you with both parts of your case is crucial, as they could help you achieve the best possible outcome. At the California Criminal Lawyer Group, We can help you request a DMV hearing to keep your license until your criminal case ends. Reach out to our able lawyers today.

What a DMV Administrative Hearing Means

A DMV administrative hearing is a legal proceeding conducted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to determine whether your driver's license should be suspended or revoked following a DUI arrest or other related offenses. This hearing is separate from the criminal court proceedings and focuses solely on the driver's license suspension.

What Instigates A DUI DMV Hearing?

After being arrested for a DUI in California, law enforcement will seize your driver's license and issue a temporary one for a month or 30 days. The DMV will then initiate the administrative process to suspend your license. The DMV hearing is initiated when you or your attorney petition for a hearing within ten days of receiving the notice of suspension from the DMV.

What is the Deadline for Requesting A DUI DMV Hearing

To request a DMV administrative hearing, you must submit a written request to the DMV within ten days of receiving the notice of suspension. You must meet this deadline to avoid the DMV automatically suspending your driver's license. The ten-day deadline includes weekends and holidays. Therefore, submitting your request immediately is advisable to avoid delays or complications.

What Happens if You Fail To Request A DMV Hearing

Refusing to request a DMV administrative hearing within the ten-day deadline results in an automatic driver's license suspension. The suspension will go into effect after the temporary license expires, typically 30 days after your arrest.

If you need your driving privileges reinstated after failing to request the hearing, you must first do the following:

  • Enroll in a DUI school in California.
  • Fill out an SR-22 insurance form.
  • Settle a reinstatement fee of $125.
  • In certain situations, have an IID installed in your vehicle.

An Overview of DMV Hearings

DMV hearings are typically less formal than criminal court proceedings but require adherence to certain rules and procedures. During your hearing, an assigned hearing officer, who acts as a neutral decision-maker, oversees the proceedings. The officer reviews the evidence presented by both parties and considers relevant factors before deciding to suspend the driver's license.

The hearing usually occurs at a local DMV office or via teleconference, depending on the circumstances and availability. The arresting officer and the driver or defense attorney present their side of the story, introduce evidence, and examine witnesses. The hearing officer may ask questions and consider any relevant legal or factual issues arising during the proceedings.

Your Rights at the DMV Hearing

In California, you can be represented by a lawyer at your DMV hearing, whom you pay from your pocket. Unlike a criminal court proceeding in California, the DMV does not provide legal representation if you cannot afford one. Other rights you are entitled to at your hearing include the following:

  • The right to cross-examine the witnesses presented by the DMV. Cross-examining witnesses allows you to question the credibility and accuracy of their testimony.
  • The right to examine and question the evidence presented. This allows you to scrutinize the evidence's accuracy and challenge any discrepancies.
  • The right to issue subpoenas, force witnesses to appear, and present evidence on your behalf. You can also summon the arresting officer and any other relevant witnesses who can provide testimony that supports your case.
  • The option to testify and present your statements and evidence in your defense allows you to personally address the allegations and provide your side of the story.

Scheduling Your DUI DMV Hearing

To schedule a DMV hearing in California, your attorney must submit a written request to the DMV within ten days of receiving the notice of suspension. The request should include your contact information, driver's license number, and a brief explanation of why you are requesting the hearing.

The DMV provides a specific form, called the DS-367, that can be used to request the hearing. You should complete this form accurately and include any supporting documentation or evidence relevant to your case.

You can submit the request by mail or at your local DMV driver safety branch office. It is advisable to make and keep copies of all documents for your records and to ensure that the request is sent via certified mail or delivered in person with a receipt.

Winning Your DUI DMV Hearing

A DMV hearing is an opportunity to fight a possible suspension or revocation of your driver's license following a DUI arrest. Following the DMV hearing, the hearing officer could take one of the following actions:

  • Suspend your driver's license due to your DUI offense, referred to as "sustaining the action."
  • Overturn your driver's license suspension for the DUI crime, known as "setting aside the action." If the action is set aside, it is comparable to being declared not guilty.

While the outcome of the hearing depends on various factors, there are DUI defenses you can employ to increase your chances of winning. Below are defense strategies to help you win your DMV license suspension hearing:

You Were Not Operating a Vehicle

One defense that can be effective in a DMV hearing is proving that you never operated a vehicle during the alleged DUI incident. According to the law, the arresting officer must have witnessed you driving to establish probable cause.

The license suspension may be set aside if the prosecution does not have concrete evidence or witness testimony to prove that you operated a vehicle during your arrest. For example, if you slept in your car after consuming alcohol and were later arrested for DUI, you may argue that you never drove while intoxicated.

The Police Arrested You At An Unlawful DUI Checkpoint

If you face arrest at a DUI stop that did not comply with the legal requirements, you might have grounds for a successful defense. DUI checkpoints must adhere to specific guidelines to ensure their legality.

The arrest may be considered illegal if the checkpoint where you were arrested failed to meet these requirements, such as improper signage, a lack of proper warning, or other procedural errors. This can be a strong defense in your DMV hearing.

The Law Enforcement had no Probable Cause To Detain You For DUI

A fundamental requirement for a lawful DUI arrest is that law enforcement must have reasonable grounds to detain you. It can be a powerful defense strategy if the officer lacks sufficient evidence or justification to detain you on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Examples of situations where the probable cause may be challenged include racial profiling or instances where you were involved in a crash without consuming alcohol until after arriving home.

The Police Failed to Conduct the 15-Minute Observation Period Properly

California Code of Regulations Title 17 mandates that officers observe individuals for not less than 15 minutes before conducting a breath test. This observation period is crucial to ensuring the accuracy of the test results, and you cannot do the following:

  • Regurgitate.
  • Smoke.
  • Drink.
  • Eat.
  • Vomit.
  • Compromise the test result in any way.

If the officer fails to adhere to this requirement, you can cast doubt on the validity of the breath test. The arresting officer’s Title 17 violation could imply your blood alcohol level was not over the stipulated limit (.08%). Challenging the adequacy of the observation period can be an effective defense strategy in your DMV hearing.

The Breath Tester Was Not Well Calibrated Or Was Faulty

California's Title 17 also provided for the functionality of breath-test instruments to ensure accurate results. According to existing legislation, these devices must undergo a calibration assessment every ten days or after 150 tests.

If you can demonstrate that the breath testing instrument was not properly calibrated, maintained, or malfunctioning, you can challenge the reliability of the BAC results. This defense can significantly impact the outcome of your DMV hearing.

You Have Reasonable Physiological Causes For Your High Blood Alcohol Level

In some cases, physiological conditions or factors unrelated to alcohol consumption can lead to BAC readings of 0.08% or higher. The following conditions result in falsely high BAC readings:

  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and heartburn can result in inaccurately high blood alcohol levels.
  • Low-carbohydrate and high-protein diets.
  • Residual “mouth alcohol” from certain products.

Providing medical evidence or expert testimony supporting these physiological explanations can undermine the accuracy of the BAC readings and strengthen your defense in the DMV hearing.

Understand that driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, which goes against California VC 23152(b), is considered a distinct offense from driving under the influence, as specified in California VC 23152(a). You can be penalized for impaired driving even if your BAC is within the legal limit.

The Officer Failed to Notify You Of The Repercussions Of Refusing To Submit To the BAC Test

When you refuse to submit to a breath or chemical blood test, the arresting officer must clearly explain the consequences of your refusal. Failure to provide this information properly can result in the suspension of your driving privileges being set aside.

If you can demonstrate that the officer failed to adequately inform you about the consequences of refusing the chemical test, it can be a defense strategy in your DMV hearing.

You Never Refused To Submit To A Chemical Test

If the officer claims you refused to submit to a chemical test but you can prove otherwise, it can be a strong defense in your DMV hearing. You could defend yourself by presenting evidence such as witness testimony, video recordings, or other documentation contradicting the officer's refusal claim.

The Officer’s Paperwork Had Many Flaws

Procedural errors or mistakes in the officer's paperwork can provide a viable defense strategy in your DMV hearing. The arresting officer must complete and submit accurate and comprehensive documentation of the DUI arrest. Significant errors, inconsistencies, or omissions in the paperwork can cast doubt on the reliability and credibility of the officer's testimony.

You Faced an Arrest For Flouting The “Under 21 Zero Tolerance Law.”

If you were under 21 years old at the time of the arrest and were accused of breaking the "Under 21 Zero Tolerance Law," you have the right to challenge the officer's foundation for your BAC results. The officer must establish that you consumed alcohol, and the BAC results must be accurate and reliable.

Law enforcement officers usually conduct preliminary alcohol screening ("PAS") tests on underage drivers. PAS devices do not fall under the regulations outlined in Title 17. Consequently, if law enforcement intends to testify about the blood alcohol level during a DMV hearing involving an underage DUI case, they must establish the appropriate basis for considering the PAS a reliable testing device.

The Connection Between a DMV DUI Hearing and a DUI Court Proceeding

While a DMV hearing and a DUI court case are separate proceedings, they are interconnected and can impact each other. As part of talks for a DUI plea deal, testimony presented during the California DMV hearing may persuade the prosecution to drop your charges or to propose a lesser charge.

The DMV is required to grant you a new driver's license if you are found not guilty under California VC 23152(b), which prohibits driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more. However, a court acquittal, guilty plea, or no contest to a lesser charge does not impact the suspension or revocation of your DMV license.

The Disparity Between DMV DUI Hearings and DUI Criminal Trials

One major disparity between DMV hearings and criminal trials is the level of comprehensiveness. Criminal trials offer more leeway for attorneys to employ several legal defenses, giving them a better chance to contest your DUI charge. On the other hand, DMV hearings tend to be more limited in terms of the defenses that can be presented. This means that the strategies employed in a trial may not be applicable or viable in a DMV hearing.

In a DMV hearing, a DMV hearing officer, who is an employee of the DMV, presides over the proceedings. This officer has the power to make decisions regarding the outcome of your case. Conversely, a 12-juror panel determines your verdict during a criminal trial.

These jurors consist of 12 individuals who must reach a unanimous agreement on your guilt before the court can convict you of drunk driving. The involvement of jurors in a trial adds a layer of impartiality to the decision-making process.

The Burden Of Proof At A DMV DUI Hearing

In a DMV hearing, the burden of proof plays a crucial role in determining whether your driver's license should be suspended or revoked following a DUI arrest. The burden of proof refers to the evidence required to establish a claim or allegation.

In the context of a DMV hearing, the burden of proof lies with the DMV, specifically the hearing officer responsible for deciding on your driver's license.

The burden of proof in a DMV hearing is referred to as the "preponderance of evidence" standard. This means that the DMV must demonstrate that you were driving under the influence at the time of your arrest.

As the respondent in a DMV hearing, you have the right to challenge the evidence presented by the DMV and present your evidence and arguments in defense of your driving privileges. Consult with an experienced DUI attorney who can help you understand the burden of proof, gather evidence to support your defense, and effectively advocate for your rights during the DMV hearing.

Suspension of Driving Privileges For First-Offense DUI

If you face a first-offense DUI in California and lose your DMV hearing, you face a driver's license suspension for six to ten months. The DMV could convert your suspension into a restricted license once the initial month has passed without DUI probation violations.

This restricted license permits you to drive exclusively to your workplace, back home, or California DUI school. However, the conversion of your driving privilege occurs after you complete the following steps:

  • Enrolling in a California DUI school.
  • Submitting an SR-22 insurance form.
  • Paying a reinstatement fee of $125

DUI With Injury And Refusals

In cases where your DUI offense involves injury to another person, or you refuse to submit to a chemical test, the driver's license suspension penalties can be more severe. If you were involved in a DUI incident that caused injury to another person, the DMV may impose an additional suspension period on top of the regular suspension. This additional suspension period typically ranges from one to three years, depending on the severity of the injuries and other factors.

Refusing to take a chemical test, such as a breathalyzer or blood test, can result in enhanced penalties for your driver's license suspension. The DMV typically imposes a one-year license suspension for a first-offense DUI with a refusal.

Suspension of Driving Privileges For Second-Offense DUI

The consequences become more stringent for individuals facing a second DUI offense and losing the DMV DUI hearing. However, there are still potential options to retain limited driving privileges. Installing an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your vehicle for one year allows you to continue driving without major restrictions. Failing to install the IID will result in a two-year license suspension.

After one year of suspension, it can be converted into a restricted license. This restricted license allows you to drive under certain conditions, such as driving to and from work and your California DUI school. However, you must fulfill specific requirements, including enrolling in a DUI school, providing an SR-22 insurance form, and paying a reinstatement fee.

DUI With Injury And Refusals

The penalties are more severe in cases involving DUI with injury or refusal to take a chemical test for a second offense. Losing your DMV DUI hearing for a second-offense DUI with injury results in a two-year license suspension. Similarly, refusing to submit to a chemical test leads to a two-year license suspension.

Suspension of Driving Privileges For Third-Offense DUI

If you face a third DUI offense and lose your DMV DUI hearing, there are still possibilities for limited driving privileges. Installing an IID in your vehicle for 12 months allows you to drive without significant restrictions. Without installing the IID, your license will be suspended for up to three years.

The suspension can be converted into a restricted license after one year, subject to meeting specific conditions. These conditions include enrolling in a DUI school, providing an SR-22 insurance form, and paying a reinstatement fee.

DUI With Injury And Refusals

Losing your DMV DUI hearing for a third-offense DUI with an injury within the past ten years results in a five-year license suspension. The DMV could convert your license suspension to a restricted license if you complied with particular conditions in the first year. Refusing to submit to a test in this situation also leads to a three-year license suspension.

Suspension of Driving Privileges For Fourth And Subsequent DUIs

A fourth or subsequent DUI within the last ten years elevates your offense to a felony DUI. If you lose your hearing, your license will be revoked for four years. Like other driver’s license suspensions, you can obtain a restricted license after one year if you adhere to the set conditions.

California's Zero-Tolerance

You break California's zero-tolerance law if you operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.01 or greater and are under the age of 21. In California, underage DUI is more of a civil matter. During your DMV hearing, the hearing officer has the discretion to sustain the action against you if they find you guilty of underage DUI.

Should you lose your underage DUI DMV hearing, the DMV suspends your license for one year. If you have not received driving privileges, you cannot have them until after a year.

If you refuse to take a breath or chemical blood test, your driving privileges could be suspended for up to three years. The duration of the suspension depends on the number of previous DUI-related violations.

Out-of-State DUIs

If you reside outside of California but face an arrest for DUI in the state, you still have the option to schedule a DMV hearing. Even as an out-of-state motorist, you could hire a DUI lawyer from California to represent you at the hearing.

Losing your DMV hearing as an out-of-state motorist can result in suspending your driving privileges in California, which could impact your driving privileges back in your home state. This is because most states are members of the Interstate Drivers License Compact (DLC), which facilitates the sharing of driving-related arrests and DUI violations between member states.

Appealing Your DMV DUI Hearing Decision

If you believe that the decision made in your DMV license hearing was unfair, you have the right to contest it. There are two primary avenues for appeal:

  • A departmental review conducted by the DMV.
  • Directly filing an appeal with the California Superior Court.

The written notice you receive regarding the DMV's decision will provide instructions on the appeal process and the timeframe for filing. A departmental review requires a fee of $120 while filing an appeal with the court involves a writ of mandate and typically requires a fee of $2,500 to $3,500. In case you are dissatisfied with the court's decision, you have the right to appeal to the California Court of Appeals.

Find a Anaheim Criminal Lawyer Near Me

In a DUI criminal trial, you have the right to a lawyer. You can choose your lawyer, or the state will give you one if you cannot afford one. You also have the right to a lawyer at a DMV hearing, but the state will not give you one if you cannot afford one.

If you represent yourself in a DMV hearing, you could make a mistake that hurts your case in both the DMV hearing and the criminal trial. At the California Criminal Lawyer Group, we could help if you or someone you know requires assistance with a DMV hearing related to a DUI or DWI case in Anaheim. We offer complimentary consultations either in person or over the phone.

Our team of DUI attorneys will assist you in preparing for your DMV hearing. Call us for a free consultation at 714-766-0965.