A DUI arrest can have serious consequences in California, not least of which is the suspension of your driving privileges. A license suspension can impact your ability to get to work, provide transportation for your family members, or otherwise go about your daily life. Before you license is suspended, the California DMV will hold an administrative hearing to determine whether your driving privileges should be revoked. This hearing is separate and distinct from your criminal prosecution for DUI.
Anyone facing a DUI may well benefit from consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who has experience navigating both criminal prosecutions and DMV administrative proceedings. An attorney will be able to provide you with specific advice based on the facts of your case. That said, the following article provides some general information on the relationship between a DUI prosecution and DMV license suspension proceedings.
If you have been arrested for DUI, the officer who arrested you will confiscate your driver’s license and provide you with a notice of suspension that serves as a temporary license for thirty days. This notice of suspension will inform you that you are entitled to a DMV administrative hearing, often called an Administrative Per Se or “APS” hearing, on whether your driving privileges should be suspended if—and only if—you make a request for this hearing with ten (10) days of your arrest. If you do not request a hearing, your license will automatically be suspended once thirty days have elapsed following your arrest.
Your administrative license suspension hearing will likely be held at a DMV office (or potentially even over the phone); it will not be held in a criminal court. A DMV hearing officer will conduct the hearing, not a judge. That said, you or your attorney are entitled to examine witnesses and present evidence at the hearing.
The hearing will generally focus on whether you provided a chemical test sample to the arresting officer. This chemical test will typically be a breath, blood, or (on rare occasions) a urine test. If you took a chemical test, the DMV hearing will examine on whether a peace officer had reasonable cause to believe you were driving under the influence in violation of applicable statutes. If you refused to take a chemical test, the DMV hearing will focus on whether the officer had reasonable cause to believe you were driving under the influence, whether the officer lawfully placed you under arrest, whether the officer informed you that failing to take or complete a chemical test would result in the suspension of your driving privileges for one year or in the revocation of your driving privileges for two years, and whether you then refused to take or complete the chemical test.
It may be in your best interest to contact a qualified Santa Ana DUI defense attorney at the soonest possible moment after your DUI arrest. Given that you must request the hearing promptly after your arrest, you will likely be working on an abbreviated timeline. A skilled attorney will be able to request helpful documents and other evidence for use at your DMV hearing on short notice.