Refusal following an Accident
I was at the El Segundo driver safety office this week with a client who had been involved in a serious accident. She had suffered serious personal injuries including a head injury which resulted in a six week stay in hospital. The accident was her fault and she was investigated for a possible DUI prosecution by the Santa Monica Police. The evidence was that she admitted to drinking alcohol and appeared intoxicated following the accident. She had a prior DUI conviction on her record. However, she refused to submit to a blood test at the hospital so there was no evidence of her actual level of intoxication. She was facing a two year suspension because of the refusal and the prior conviction.
At the DMV hearing, I intended to present evidence of her injuries to show to the Hearing Officer that she could not be held accountable for the refusal. My client lost consciousness after the accident and "woke up" in pain at the hospital with a fracture to her spine and various other injuries. She remembers the police officer asking her questions, but felt like she was in a dream at the time.
Case law indicates that in a DMV Hearing based on a refusal to submit to a blood or breath test, if a person suffers personal injuries in an accident, and because of those injuries are incapable of consenting to a blood test, the DMV should set aside the suspension proceedings.
However, in this case, I had failed to notice that the arresting officer hadn't signed his sworn statement, and the hearing officer fairly pointed this out and gave me a set aside without the necessity of hearing my client's testimony. Sometimes, but not often, things turn out easier than you expected.
Sometimes it is easier to win a DMV Hearing based on a minor paperwork problem, than a real substantive defense.
If you have been arrested for a DUI and you are concerned about losing your license, please call Los Angeles DMV defense lawyers Gold & Witham for a free consultation.