San Mateo DMV Hearing
California drivers arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) or under the influence of drugs (DUID) face two separate cases – in criminal court, and at the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The loss of either case can result in a driver’s license suspension.
Courts are concerned with the criminal aspects of a DUI case, the California Department of Motor Vehicles focuses on the administrative aspects – the power to revoke, suspend, or restrict a driver’s license. As the DMV’s action is civil, not criminal, there are less constitutional protections. A California DUI criminal defense lawyer can assist with both cases.
There are only 10 calendar days, including weekends and holidays, to request a California DMV hearing. The DMV hearing is called an Administrative Per Se hearing (APS). If no hearing is requested, the California Department of Motor Vehicles will automatically suspend the driver’s license for 30 days. Even drivers licensed in another state may see their licenses suspended through the Interstate Driver’s License Compact.
The California DMV hearings are complicated and an experienced Northern California DUI defense attorney will develop an aggressive strategy to fight an Administrative Per Se (APS) action by the DMV. The hearings are held at the California DMV Driver Safety Offices, not at DMV field offices. The APS hearing is presided over by a DMV employee, not a judge. They present evidence as well as decide on its merit. After both sides present their cases, the DMV officer takes it under submission and the decision is mailed to the driver.
Motorists arrested on suspicion of DUI or DUID in California are required to submit to a chemical test under the states’ implied consent law. California Vehicle Coed VC 23612 – Implied Consent For Chemical Testing, makes it a requirement for a driver to consent to a chemical test if they are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles must determine three facts at an Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing in order to suspend a driver's license - that the arresting officer had a reasonable belief that the driver committed a crime, that the arrest was lawful, and that the driver had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or greater. A skilled California DUI defense attorney will challenge all three of these accusations.
There are two possible outcomes from an Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing. The best result is the DMV hearing officer sets aside the action – the revocation, suspension or restriction of the driver’s license. This means the California DMV case is over, and the driver can obtain a duplicate license from the DMV.
The second possible outcome is the revocation, suspension or restriction of driving privileges. For first-time DUI offense in California, the punishment depends on whether the motorist agreed to take a chemical test. A driver in a first California DUI offense who submitted to a chemical test faces a four-month license suspension and the requirement to file formal proof of insurance (SR-22) with the California Department of Motor Vehicles for the next three years. The motorist also must enroll in alcohol education classes for 3 to 30 months. The driver may be entitled to a restricted license that allows travel to work and the classes.
If the driver refused the chemical test, there are two additional issues at stake – whether the motorist was advised of the consequences of refusing, and whether they continued to refuse after being warned of the repercussions. If the DMV hearing officer determines these two additional issues are true then the driver will lose their license for one year for a first refusal, two years for a second refusal, three years for a third refusal, and four years for a fourth refusal. Drivers who refuse chemical testing will not receive a restricted license.
The consequences of an unsuccessful Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing at the California DMV are severe, but can be avoided with expert legal help. A California DUI defense lawyer with experience defending DUI and DMV cases will work to reduce or eliminate the consequences imposed by the DMV at an APS hearing.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles may also impose additional license restrictions on drivers convicted of DUI in court. New legislation effective September 20, 2005, means that California courts now have no jurisdiction over driver's licenses - that authority rests entirely with the DMV. The California DMV can and will impose additional license restrictions when it is notified of a drunk driving or DUI criminal court conviction.
Any punishment meted out in connection with a California APS hearing is separate from the consequences that stem from a criminal court conviction. Although courts no longer have the authority to order driver's license suspensions, the California DMV will suspend a driver's license for six months upon learning of a drunk driving conviction. For a second conviction within 10 years the suspension will be for two years and for a third conviction within 10 years the suspension will be for three years. This suspension is concurrent with, not in addition to, any California Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing suspension. The driver will also be required to attend an 18 to 30 month alcohol education class and install an ignition interlock device.
Even though motorists with multiple DUI / DWI offenses within 10 years can risk losing their licenses, both the criminal court and the California DMV case can be successfully challenged. A skilled San Mateo DUI defense attorney will defend the driver aggressively at both the California DMV and in criminal court, and fight to retain the driver's license.
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