When one is charged with driving under the influence in California, there will be two forums in which defense or representation is required. They are distinct actions, yet interrelated.
A DUI charge in California requires one to deal with the Court case. That is where arraignments, preliminary hearings, various motions, plea bargaining, jury trials, sentencing, appeals, writs, etc., take place. The Court, independent of the DMV, can set the conditions of release, probation, classes, suspensions, fines, penalties, jail time, diversions, etc.
In addition to the Court case, the California Department of Motor Vehicles will also take action. An administrative hearing will take place in front of a hearing officer where witnesses can be called to testify and be examined. They can be the officers, expert witnesses, passengers, etc. There is no jury. The hearing officer not only hears the matter, but also adjudicates it. The burden of proof in this administrative hearing is not as stringent as what is required in Court — in other words, weaker evidence can be used to decide what will happen to your license than is needed to convict you of a criminal DUI charge. Once the evidence has been presented, the hearing officer will make her ruling.
After being arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, a driver will be given a temporary license by the arresting officer. That temporary license is valid until there is a determination of suspension, revocation, etc. We are given 10 calendar days to request this administrative hearing. If an administrative hearing is not requested in that 10 day period, then one’s license is automatically suspended. If a hearing is requested, then the temporary license remains in effect until the hearing and the ruling take place.
The length of any suspension depends on various factors such as whether there was a refusal to submit to a chemical test, or the number of previous charges in the last 10 years, etc. If the driver requests a DMV hearing in time, generally speaking, the hearing officer will decide whether the driver was actually driving the vehicle, whether the traffic stop and arrest were proper, and whether the driver's blood alcohol content was .08 or more. If there was no chemical test, then the hearing officer has to decide the refusal issue (i.e., whether the driver actually refused to submit to a post-arrest chemical test).
As your DUI lawyer, we will handle your Court case for you, and we will also aggressively represent you in your DMV administrative hearing.
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