What is a DMV Hearing?

If you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), the fate of your driver licenses is going to be a top priority. After all, it’s difficult to live and work in Southern California without a valid license! So, the first matter of business will be to schedule your DMV hearing, which is separate from your criminal proceeding. “A DMV hearing, what is that?” Read on as we explain.

For starters, after a DUI arrest you have just 10 days from the date of arrest to request a DMV administrative hearing. If you do not request a DMV hearing within 10 days, your California driver license will be suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles, regardless if you’re guilty of DUI or not.

DMV hearings are held before a driver safety hearing officer, who works for the DMV. At this hearing, you will have the opportunity to challenge and present any evidence, witnesses, as well as testimony to persuade the DMV not to suspend your license.

“Can I be represented by a DUI defense attorney?” Absolutely, you have every right to be represented by legal counsel. In fact, we don’t recommend doing it any other way. And, once the hearing concludes, you will receive a letter about the DMV’s decision in writing.

To schedule your DMV hearing, look at the back of the notice you received, informing you of the action that’s being taken against your driving privileges. The notice should say that you have a right to a hearing, and in that case, you have just 10 days from the day you receive the notice to request a hearing.

What is the DMV Hearing?

The DMV hearing is technically an administrative proceeding; it is not part of the criminal trial. The purpose of the DMV hearing is to address your driving privilege and to examine the circumstances of your DUI arrest. The DMV is not trying to decide if you’re guilty of driving under the influence – that’s the court’s job.

These are the facts the DMV will be concerned with:

  • Did you take a blood, breath or urine test?
  • Did the police officer have a good reason to believe you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol under Vehicle Code Section 23152?
  • Did you refuse to take a chemical test?
  • Was the arrest lawful?
  • Did the officer tell you that if you refused a chemical test, your driver’s license would be automatically suspended for one year or revoked for two or three years?

You are not obligated to request a DMV hearing; however, we highly recommend having one because if you do nothing, your license will be automatically suspended after 30 days from the date of your DUI arrest. To avoid this automatic suspension, you must schedule a DMV hearing within 10 days of your DUI arrest.

Related: Changing Your Behavior After a DUI

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