A driving under the influence (DUI) offense has life-changing consequences that may affect a driver’s record, reputation, and freedom. John Patrick Dolan, an experienced California criminal defense specialist, can assert and protect the rights of any driver charged with DUI in California.

Every California driver accused of a DUI must also attend a California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) hearing, in addition to his or her court appearance for being charged with violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) (driving while under the influence of alcohol) and violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(b) (driving with a BAC of .08 or higher). First-time DUI offenses in California are misdemeanors.

In DUI criminal cases, as with any other criminal case, offenders face penalties, such as fines and jail time. DUI offenders also face DUI school and numerous other DUI conditions of probation. However, a DMV hearing in California related to a DUI is an administrative procedure that determines the future status of an offender’s driving privileges. There are no risks of fines or jail time, but there is a risk of the suspension of a DUI offender’s driver’s license.

If arrested in California and charged with driving under the influence, the arresting officer will confiscate a motorist’s driver’s license. The officer will provide the offender with a “Notice of Suspension” that acts as a temporary license for 30 days.

It is even more important to note that the “Notice of Suspension” also provides notice that drivers are entitled to a DMV DUI hearing to prevent the suspension of their license. However, a driver must request a DMV DUI hearing within ten (10) days of arrest. If no request for a hearing is made within this 10-day window, a driver’s license is suspended automatically at the end of the 30-day period.

The DMV hearing is informal and held at a DMV office rather than a criminal court. It may even be held telephonically. The sole issue considered and decided at this hearing is whether someone charged with a DUI will have his or her driver’s license suspended. Typically, a DMV hearing officer who is neither a lawyer nor someone with formal legal training presides over the hearing. The burden of proof – or amount of evidence required to prove guilt -is more easily satisfied in a DMV DUI hearing than in a criminal proceeding.

Despite the informal nature of DMV DUI hearings, those charged with DUI still maintain certain important rights, such as the right to an attorney at their own expense. At a DMV DUI hearing, defendants are entitled to testify, review and challenge evidence, as well as present and cross-examine witnesses.

A license suspension is more than a little burdensome for most drivers. SB 1046 (2018) allowed DUI offenders in 2019 to continue driving without any limitations if they agree to use an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their cars for some finite, established period. The IID must remain installed for four months for a first-time DUI or for one or two years for more serious DUIs.

The California DMV penalizes first-time DUI offenders by imposing a four (4) month administrative license suspension. If the offender refused the BAC test, the DMV increases the suspension to one (1) year. California courts may impose a six-month license suspension on the licenses of first-time DUI offenders. While multiple license suspensions may overlap, drivers are still limited to serving the longest one possible. Once a driver’s initial 30-day suspension period ends, he or she may qualify for a restricted license to drive to and from work or school.

There are many defenses that can be used to fight a DUI charge, get evidence suppressed, and ultimately dismiss the DUI. As a California Criminal Trial Lawyer with over 40 years of courtroom experience, John Patrick Dolan has handled everything from traffic tickets to death penalty murder cases. Mr. Dolan is a recognized California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and a true courtroom veteran of DUI cases. Call us today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.

What Happens At A DMV DUI Hearing?

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