What happens at a DUI DMV hearing? A perspective from a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer:
DMV hearings are an important part of any DUI case because a person who is arrested for DUI will automatically lose their license unless they request a DMV hearing within 10 days of the DUI arrest. At the DMV hearing, an employee of the DMV (called a “Hearing Officer”) will review the person’s case file and determine if the DMV will suspend the person’s license. DMV hearings are not “informal interviews” or things to take lightly: they are legal proceedings that can result in the termination of a person’s driving privileges. What has to be proven at a DUI DMV hearing: The DMV has to prove (to a preponderance of the evidence) three basic questions at a DMV hearing for DUI cases involving a higher than 0.08%BAC case: -The driver was actually driving the car -The law enforcement officer made a lawful arrest for DUI -A chemical test shows the driver had a blood alcohol level above 0.08% at the time of driving.
The “No driving” defense
A critical element that has to be established at a DUI DMV hearing is the fact that the driver facing suspension was in-fact driving the car. In many cases, this is simply proven by a witness like the police officer, watching the driver operate the car. This issue does present itselff in certain cases where police come upon a car stopped with its occupants standing beside the car. In these cases, the defense that someone else driving the car is a rea possibility. If the DMV cannot establish that the driver is in fact the same person that was arrested for susicion of DUI, the DMV has to set aside the suspension.
The Lawful Arrest
The DMV has to establish the arrest of the driver was conduced in a lawful manner. (Mercer v. DMV) The officer must have reasonable suspicion that the driver is committing some form of traffic violation (speeding, swerving, broken tail-light) if the officer stops a driver. For DUI checkpoint cases, there are differrent rules that the police officer has to follow to show there is reasonable suspicion for taking the driver aside and questioning them further.
The Chemical Test
The DMV has the burden of showing the driver failed a chemical BAC test (either blood or breath) and that the test establishes the driver’s BAC is at or above 0.08% at the time of driving established by the witness to the person’ s driving.
There are many different types of DMV hearings: DUI APS hearings (which stands for “Automatic Per Se”), Refusal hearings (that involve a case where the driver refused to submit a chemical test for DUI such as blood or breath test), medical suspension hearings (for people with medical conditions that make their continued driving a danger to themselves and others. What happens at a DMV hearing involving a typical DUI case: The typical DUI case involves a person driving at night after consuming alcohol. The person is stopped for some form of a traffic violation (missing tags, license plate light out.. to speeding or lane straddling.) The officer involved in the case will approach the driver… and if alcohol is detected (usually a smell of alcohol on the person) a DUI case is initiated. The driver will perform various field sobirety test… the driver may be asked to provide a PAS sample (preliminary alcohol screening)