After you are arrested for DUI in California, the arresting officer will take possession of your California driver’s license and provide you with temporary license that will be valid for only 30 days (an officer should not confiscate a driver’s license that is issued by any other state). You must then contact the DMV Drivers Safety Office within 10 days of your arrest to request a DMV hearing to contest your license suspension. This hearing is also referred to as the APS hearing (Administrative Per Se Hearing). Failure to contact the DMV within 10 days of your arrest will result in an automatic suspension of your driving privileges after 30 days.
Under current California law, only the DMV has the power to suspend or revoke a person’s driving privileges, not the court. The DMV may take such action as a result of an unsuccessful DMV hearing or a criminal conviction.
DMV hearings are technical and complex. The hearing is conducted by a DMV hearing officer who acts as the prosecutor and the judge. A skilled DUI lawyer should have thorough understanding of California’s DUI laws, including the relevant administrative laws that are codified in Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations
The DMV hearing deals with a very limited number of issues. The primary focus is whether the driver had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more by weight, at the time of driving. Two issues should be challenged. First, is there reasonable cause to believe that the driver’s blood alcohol concentration was 0.08% or more? If so, is there reasonable cause to believe that the person was driving at the time that his blood alcohol concentration was 0.08% or more?
If you lose your DMV case your license will automatically be suspended. The duration of license suspension varies. For first time DUI offenders, license suspension usually lasts four to six months. For multiple DUI offenses, license suspension can last up to three years or may be permanent.
There are other factors that may complicate DMV hearings and have more serious affects on a person’s driving privileges. One factor is whether the driver failed to submit to a chemical test at the time of his arrest, as required by California’s Implied Consent Law. Another factor deals with drivers who were under the age of 21 at the time of the arrest, as governed by California’s Zero Tolerance Law.
Negligent Operator Suspensions
In other cases, a person may lose his driving privileges if he is deemed a “negligent operator.” A negligent operator is one who exceeds the maximum number of points for moving violations within a given period of time. More specifically, a person is considered a negligent operator if he receives 4 points in one year, 6 points in two years, or eight points in three years. One point is usually assessed for each moving violation and two points are assessed for an at-fault traffic accident. DUI’s and reckless-driving convictions also carry two points. Negligent operator suspension can be challenged and often overcome by a skilled lawyer who is knowledgeable in DMV matters.
Finally, a person may have his license suspended based on medical problems. These suspensions can occur for various health conditions, such as seizures, diabetes, addictions, recent surgery, physical injury, etc… Many elderly drivers become a target of these suspensions. Due process of the law requires the DMV to conduct a hearing before suspending a person’s driving privileges for medical reasons. A person facing such a suspension should be represented by a qualified lawyer. Failure to act promptly could result in long term consequences relating to a person’s driving privileges.
At California Criminal Defense Center, we have mastered not only the criminal aspects of DUI law, but also the administrative law governing DMV hearings. We will work to protect your rights and will inform you of all your legal options. We will also schedule your hearing with the DMV, and fight to save your license.