Los Angeles DMV Hearing Attorneys
Facing a Suspended License? Our DUI Lawyers Can Help.
If you have been arrested for DUI, you should have received a notice of your arrest and a notice to request an administrative per se (APS) hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV hearing is purely administrative and deals with a person's right to drive rather than a criminal conviction. At this hearing, you will be able to contest the suspension of your license.
Our Los Angeles DMV hearing lawyers can help schedule this hearing and also represent you before the administrative officer. If you fail to request an APS hearing within 10 days of your arrest, your driver's license will be automatically suspended after 30 days. The DMV hearing is your one opportunity to restore your driving privileges after a DUI arrest—so be sure to utilize this right.
After a DUI arrest, you only have 10 days to schedule an administrative hearing.
Defense for DMV Hearings
The administrative hearing will only evaluate your driving privileges, so if you were arrested for some type of DUI, your attorney will be there to prove that the arrest/charge was not valid.
Gold & Witham is prepared to do this by:
- Challenging the results of your chemical test
- Challenging the method used to administer the test
- Challenging the lawfulness of your DUI stop
The DMV can impose administrative penalties on those who either forego the APS hearing or who are not successful at this hearing. Your driving privileges can be suspended for up to four months for a first DUI.
After fulfilling 30 days of your suspension, you may be able to petition for a hardship license, which allows you to drive to certain locations if you can prove that a total suspension would result in unnecessary hardship. If this is your second or subsequent DUI arrest, then the DMV could impose a one-year suspension on your driver's license.
For failure to submit to a chemical test, the DMV has the right to suspend your license for a period of one to three years. The length of suspension for chemical test refusal depends heavily upon prior convictions.
Before the DMV hearing, you are entitled to discovery. Discovery means you can have access to the documents that the DMV will use. In most cases, discovery will include the following:
- Police report
- Copies of any witness statements
- Your DMV record
- Your arresting officer's sworn statement
In some cases, you may have to submit a formal written request to receive these documents.
Understanding the DMV Process
An APS hearing can be held in person at the DMV or even over the phone. We suggest that the hearing is done in person, as this is often more effective in our experience. Be sure to note in your request for the administrative hearing that you would like an in-person hearing.
Your case will be heard and decided by a DMV officer, not a judge. Hearings can take anywhere from one to two hours long, depending on the circumstances of your case. In some cases, we could attend the APS hearing for you if you are unable to attend within the timeframe allotted.
The documents you can request in the discovery are the same documents that the administrative hearing officer will be using in your case. If you have an attorney present, they will be given an opportunity to contest the evidence in the hopes of getting your suspension withdrawn.
In most cases, the administrative officer will not make a decision then and there, but will wait to make a decision and then inform the defendant by mail. If you are successful at your APS hearing, your driving privileges will be restored. If you are unsuccessful, you could still potentially petition for a restricted driver's license, which would allow you to drive to and from work.
Issues Addressed at the DMV Hearing
Listed below are potential points of argument at the APS hearing:
- Was there "reasonable suspicion" for law enforcement officers to pull you over? Many people are pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving for "weaving" even if within the confines of a single lane. Per California case law, weaving can be a legitimate reason to pull a person over, but only if it was prominent and occurred for a substantial distance.
- Did the arresting officer actually witness you driving the vehicle? The DMV must establish that you were driving the vehicle within three hours before the chemical test, which takes place after an arrest. If the DMV cannot factually establish that you were driving the vehicle within this time frame, then you may be able to get your suspension withdrawn.
- Is the chemical test accurate? It is important to remember that when you go into a DMV hearing, the DMV is presuming that the chemical test is accurate. Your DUI attorney must prove the contrary. Some of the things that we can analyze are the prior experience of your arresting officer with the breath testing machine, your arresting officer's actual qualifications, the track record and margin of error of the type of chemical test used in your case, and more. We can even petition that your blood sample be re-tested for accuracy.
- Is the chemical test accurate in relation to the actual time you were driving? The DMV must establish that your BAC was 0.08 percent or higher at the time you were driving. This is important because people who consume alcohol very close to their time of driving may not have had enough time to fully absorb the alcohol, which can give a higher BAC reading.
- Was there a chemical test refusal? Per implied consent laws, everyone who is lawfully arrested for drunk driving must submit to a chemical test. Refusal to submit to a chemical test can result in automatic suspension of your driver's license for a longer period than a simple DUI would have called for. Some people do not actually know that they are required to submit to a chemical test, either because they are not informed, or they are confused.
- Does your arresting officer have all the necessary paperwork? Something as seemingly small as a discrepancy in the paperwork can result in a withdrawal of your suspension. We can evaluate the arresting officer's paperwork to determine if everything was filled out.
What Happens If I Am Acquitted of Drunk Driving Charges?
Normally, the criminal and DMV proceedings are entirely separate and the results of the DMV and Court case do not impact each other. However, there is one very important exception to this; if a defendant is found not guilty of driving with a breath or blood alcohol level over .08%, the DMV suspension proceedings should be set aside. If a not guilty verdict is obtained, it will be necessary to submit a certified copy of the verdict to the DMV in Sacramento to secure a set aside of any suspension.
It is important to note that the dismissal of DUI charges by way of a negotiated plea bargain does not impact a DMV suspension. Likewise, a license suspension brought about by a blood or breath refusal will not be affected by a not guilty verdict.
At Gold & Witham, we are skilled in the discovery of those possibilities and aggressively defend you. Don't take chances with any drunk driving charges. Enlist the assistance of Gold & Witham by calling (800) 716-6791.