DUI Hearings

DMV Revocation Hearings

As your distinguished, skilled and highly experienced drunk driving defense lawyers in San Diego, CA, we will also handle the driver’s license revocation or suspension at the DMV Administrative Hearing. When you retain us as your defense attorney, we will represent you in both the Superior Court case as well as the DMV administrative hearing, which we recommend (if requested within 10 days of the police encounter) because the DMV hearing will often give us further insight into the criminal charges, provide an advance examination of the police report and associated evidence, plus it gives us an opportunity to question the arresting officer prior to your criminal trial if he testifies.

You have ONLY 10 calendar days from your arrest to request a DMV hearing, or we will do it for you, if we are retained in sufficient time. Otherwise, your California driver’s license will be suspended.

We recommend requesting a DMV Administrative Hearing. There may be an opportunity to have the suspension thrown out; even in the worst scenario, your suspension will generally take effect later than the 30 days you are given to drive after being arrested.

The DMV Administrative Hearing is conducted by a Hearing Officer who is a State of California employee. This person is generally not an attorney, but acts as the “judge” and “prosecutor.” He can, for example, rule on his own objections. The hearing is conducted like a miniature trial, without a jury and with very relaxed rules of evidence. Testimony can be produced by both sides, although the Hearing Officer after the arrest usually only produces documents, such as police reports, laboratory reports and the officer’s sworn affidavit.

If you are arrested for driving under the influence in California, you will be prosecuted by two agencies: the City Attorney/District Attorney and the Department of Motor Vehicles. Each agency handles its matters differently. The criminal justice system is a complicated system and the consequences of a DUI are severe. If this is your first offense, the minimum sentence is three years probation on condition: (1) you pay a fine plus penalty assessment plus fees. Penalty assessment is the state tax of 200 percent. Depending on the jurisdiction, the fine totals $1,200 to $1,500. (2) you receive a 90-day license restriction or 48 hours in County Jail. (3) you attend a 90-day alcohol program, once a week for 90 days. Not all jurisdictions allow a restricted license instead of a mandatory period in jail. Some Courts require Formal Probation, while most San Diego Superior Court judges require Summary or Court Probation (without a probation officer). You may end up in the County Jail for a maximum of 6 months on a first offense and one year for a second or third offense. Jail time is somewhat unusual in most of our law firm’s first offense cases.

In those cases in which there may be property damages and/or personal injuries as a result of a DUI arrest or DUI charge, we are available to assist our clients in resolving the matter with the Auto Insurance Company (the adverse insurer and/or your own). Remember that even if you have insurance, it is important to have your own advocate to assure the case is quickly resolved and the resolution focuses on the three criteria set forth above, particularly the mitigating facts that can be shown on your behalf.

Do not assume your arrest will be private. It is not uncommon to get dozens of letters from attorneys soliciting your case after the DUI arrest. These lawyers purchase a list of the names and addresses of individuals who have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), DWI or drunk driving(typically called “jail mail”). The letters can be annoying, but more importantly they will be received by anyone who is at your address of record (on your driver’s license), which includes your spouse, your children, etc. For those who use their employer’s address on their driver’s license, the consequences can be even more grave. While we know our clients are innocent until proven guilty, if at all, there are far too many people in the public sector who treat the arrest or charge as evidence of wrongdoing, and the “spin” comes from their negative perception.

DUI Hearing After a Motion to Suppress

At Spital & Associates, our team of drunk driving defense lawyers in San Diego, CA strategize and hold conferences to analyze the facts and circumstances, including the applicable laws and defenses. In appropriate cases, we will file in the San Diego Superior Court a pretrial Motion to Suppress. This is a legal document filed on your behalf in which we ask the Court to exclude evidence the prosecutor is relying upon to win its case. If the Court holds an evidentiary hearing, the officer will be required to testify. This is significant because each time the officer presents evidence, it affords us one more opportunity for cross-examination.

As your DWI attorney, we are looking for inconsistencies between the arrest report and the testimony the officer may give at the DMV Administrative License Hearing and at this motion hearing. Credibility is a key test to the competency of a witness. Our client’s defense is strong, and the charges may also be dismissed if evidence can be excluded.

What Is the Difference Between the DMV Hearing and the Criminal Court San Diego DUI Case?

The DMV hearing is an administrative hearing that deals solely with your driving privilege and the circumstances surrounding the DUI arrest, not whether you are innocent or guilty of criminal wrongdoing. At the DMV Administrative Hearing, the following are the only issues:

  • If you took a blood or DUI breath or (if applicable) a urine test:
    • Did the peace officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation of Vehicle Code Section 23140, 23152, or 23153?
    • Were you placed under lawful arrest for the charges?
    • Were you driving a motor vehicle when you had .08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in your blood at the time of your arrest?
  • If you refused or failed to complete a blood, breath or (if applicable) a urine test:
    • Did the police officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation of Vehicle Code Section 23140, 23152, or, 23153?
    • Were you placed under lawful arrest?
    • Were you told that if you refused to submit to or failed to complete a test of your blood, breath, or (when applicable) urine, your driving privilege would be suspended for one year or revoked for two or three years?
    • Did you refuse to submit to or fail to complete a blood, breath or (if applicable) a urine test, after being requested to do so?