When a person is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, it is very important that they promptly call the DMV and schedule a DMV hearing within 10 days of the arrest.
The DMV hearing is separate from the criminal proceedings in criminal court. The criminal case is heard before a criminal Judge and bears the potential sentence outlined in the California Penal Code. The DMV hearing is heard before a hearing officer and makes the determination of if, when and how long a driver’s license will be suspended.
The DMV hearing is more informal than Court, and does not carry with it the formal rules of evidence. However, you may be represented by a San Diego DUI Lawyer at both proceedings, and it is highly advisable that you are.
Just like any proceeding where you face potential consequences, it is imperative that all the facts are examined in detail. When you initially call to schedule a DMV hearing within 10 days of your DUI arrest, the DMV will inform you that they will take notice that you called and put a stay on your temporary license. They will then send you out a DMV hearing date.
The “stay” on your license essentially means that you will have a temporary license pending a decision by the DMV. Until your DMV date, you will be able to legally drive. The only problem with this is that the DMV arbitrarily picks a date and sends it to you in the mail. You may have other obligations that day, your attorney might have a conflict, you may not have received discovery yet, and yourscriminal case may still be pending.
All of these factors greatly affect your DMV hearing.
Any knowledgeable attorney will advise you to wait to have your DMV hearing until they have been able to review the discovery in detail. The discovery includes the results of any blood or breath tests, as well as the police report. They can then properly make the decision of whether the arresting officer shouldsbe subpoenaed to testimony, whether they shouldsbe questioned, and what argument or defense is available to you.
Furthermore, discovery often includes a DVD of the arrest. This is extremely important, as it will lay out exactly what was asked and answered on the date of the arrest, as well as your behavior and cooperation with officers. It will demonstrate whether you did look intoxicated or if officers had no authority to arrest you.
It is always advisable to have all the discovery and know exactly what the arguments and defense will be, before proceeding with a hearing or court appearance. If these items are not in your possession during a hearing, you are at a disadvantage. Consequently, continuing a DMV hearing is oftentimes not only a good decision, but a necessary one.