What really happens at a DMV hearing?

DMV hearings are an important part of any DUI case in the state of California. ¬†Starting in 1990, the California DMV was given special authority by the state’s legislature to remove DUI drivers from California’s roads. ¬† The goal was and is to reduce the number of accidents caused by impaired drivers on California’s roads.

Administrative Per Se: the “Legal Limit” and the DMV.

The DMV hearing protocol was created from an initiative to allow the DMV to suspend driver’s licenses based on the driver having a blood alcohol content above 0.08%. “Per Se” means “in itself” in legal parlance. For DMV hearings, the concept works like this: if someone is shown to have a blood alcohol level at or above 0.08%, in itself that shows impairment to a dangerous level. If the person was caught driving with alcohol in their system at a dangerous level, the DMV should be allowed to take them off of the road. This was the genesis of California’s DMV APS hearing process.

Before the APS hearing process, the California courts were responsible for taking drunk drivers off of the road. Activist groups that fight against DUIs were concerned that cases that go to court can drag out for a long time, leading to a potentially dangerous situation where drunk drivers were allowed to continue to drive on California’s roads while their case dragged on. The APS hearing process dramatically accelerated the suspension of DUI drivers’ licenses.

The nuts and bolts of a DMV hearing for a DUI case:

The DMV APS hearing process starts when the officer arrests the driver. The driver will be asked to submit a chemical sample of their blood or breath for analysis. If the sample is above 0.08%, the driver’s case will be referred to the DMV for their APS process.
The driver will be given a pink document (With “APS” in the upper corner) that describes the next steps for the driver. (If the driver refuses to provide a chemical sample, a “Chemical Test Refusal” case is initiated, with much more harsh treatment from the DMV.

Scheduling and Attending the Hearing:

The driver has only 10 days from the date of the arrest to schedule their hearing. If the driver fails to schedule a hearing, the DMV will automatically suspend the driver’s license without a hearing. It is advisable for the driver to request an in person hearing as opposed to a telephonic hearing.

DMV Hearing Reference Links:

California DMV Hearings vs. Criminal Court

Posted in DMV Defenses, DMV Hearings, DUI Enforcement.

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