Whenever a person gets arrested for driving under the influence, two court actions are automatically triggered: a criminal court proceeding and a Department of Motor Vehicles license suspension. The Department of Motor Vehicles initiates a procedure to suspend a person’s license immediately. The DMV administrative action regarding your driver’s license is completely separate and independent from any criminal penalties that you may face for driving under the influence.
The court and the DMV are two separate entities. The court will usually defer to the DMV to suspend your driver’s license and the court will not interfere. Therefore, you must contact the DMV within 10 days of your arrest to have a hearing on whether your license should be suspended. You will need an experienced attorney that will assist you in the DMV hearing so that your license is not taken away from you. In order to schedule a DMV hearing regarding your driver’s license, you must possess some of the following information: your driver’s license number, the law enforcement agency that arrested you, the type of chemical test that you provided (blood or breath), and potentially other information. If you have an attorney set the DMV hearing for you, your attorney will likely be able to push the hearing date at a later time in order to sufficiently prepare you for your hearing.
DMV Court Procedure
Unlike a criminal court proceeding where you have independent people serving in the role of the prosecutor, the judge, and the jury, a DMV administrative hearing has only one hearing officer that simultaneously sits in all three positions. The hearing officer not only plays the role of all three positions, but he or she will make decisions in all three capacities. The DMV hearing officer will ultimately decide if your license will be suspended. You need an experienced trial attorney that knows how to effectively fight against the hearing officer in order to protect your driver’s license.
DMV Hearing Standard of Proof
In a DMV hearing, the standard of proof is far lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that is used in a criminal court setting. The DMV hearing officer only needs to show that there was probable cause to stop you while you were driving, that your blood alcohol level was 0.08% or above, and that it was reasonable to arrest you. The “probable cause” standard is a much lower standard of proof than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. There can be a variety of lawful reasons why a police officer can stop you when you are driving, including: expired registration, broken tail light, speeding, swerving, any type of moving violation, and many more violations.
Purpose of the DMV Hearing
The attorneys at Hepburn, Hernandez and Jung Trial Attorneys use the DMV hearing for two separate reasons. First, they will attend the DMV hearing to salvage your driver’s license. Based on the police report and your conversations with the attorney, a HHJ attorney will be able to challenge any accusations regarding the reason why the police officer pulled you over and contest the lawfulness of the arrest. However, because the DMV hearing officer plays the role of judge, jury, and prosecutor, it is generally very difficult for a person to retain their driver’s license after this hearing.
HHJ Trial Attorneys also use the DMV hearing to attack and cross-examine the main reporting officer regarding the incident. Generally, reporting officers are not prepared to testify at this DMV hearing and HHJ Trial Attorneys will be able to call into question every part of the officer’s investigation. The attorney will bring up inconsistencies and biases that could affect the outcome of their investigation. It is important to question the officer’s investigation during the DMV hearing because the DMV hearing transcript can then be used to negotiate a better settlement during the individual’s criminal court proceeding. You must have someone that is an experienced trial attorney to effectively attack the officer’s position. Contact HHJ Trial Attorneys today to consult with an attorney if you have been arrested for a DUI and would like them to attend the DMV hearing to fight on your behalf.