Articles Posted in DMV Hearing

Many of our clients call for an update on their Los Angeles Driving Under the Influence case in between hearings. The truth is, the work in between Court appearances is constant. There are several things that need to be done, in addition to preparing for Court and DMV hearings.

One of the biggest things that needs to be done is obtaining discovery. Discovery is any kind of evidence that may be used for or against the client in Court. This could include audio and visual tapes, police reports, potential testimony or otherwise. Audio and visual recordings are of huge importance in a DUI case. Many officers have recorders on their belt that record all conversations they have with the driver. Visual recordings are getting to be a lot more common. The officer records the entire stop from beginning to the end. These recordings are important because they can give the Los Angeles DUI lawyer great insight into your DUI case and the potential strengths and weaknesses of your case.

For example, an officer may state in his report that you were speeding and that was his reason for pulling you over. Yet he does not mention anything about speeding on the visual or audio recording. This may be used in Court to discredit the officer’s testimony as well as his report. If the officer is discredited, there may not be any reason for you to be pulled over in the first place. An officer needs probable cause to pull you over for an initial stop. This can be anything from weaving in and out of lanes, to no license plate. If the officer states one thing on his report but never mentions it as a reason for pulling you over, it will appear to the Court that he may not have had a reason to pull you over, much less arrest you for a DUI.

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.

When you have been arrested on the suspicion of DUI, there is an important deadline you must be aware of. You have within 10 days to schedule a DMV hearing. The 10 days start after the day you have been arrested and include weekends. To be on the safe side it is best to schedule a DMV hearing as soon as possible, however, before doing so, there are a few things to keep in mind.

The DMV hearing is as important as your criminal court appearance. The Criminal Court will be the entity that determines whether there is enough evidence for you to be convicted of a DUI. The Prosecutor will present their case and must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that all elements have been met. If convicted, the Criminal court will also determine the appropriate sentence. The sentence will include jail time and/or a fine, probation and alcohol rehabilitation classes. The Court will make the determination as to what will be imposed as a penalty and it’s duration.

What the court will not determine is the suspension or revocation of your driving privileges.sThat is what the DMV will determine. The purpose of the DMV hearing is for a hearing officer to make a finding as to the facts of your case and determine if your license will be suspended or revoked and the length of time.

Many of our clients believe that because they have refused to take a Blood Alcohol Test during the time of their DUI arrest, there will not be enough evidence to find them guilty of a DUI. This, however, is not true. A person may be found guilty of a DUI based on the arresting officer’s observations and any statements made by the driver.

When a person has been charged with a criminal offense, they have the option to accept a plea bargain made by the prosecutor. A plea bargain is an offer for the person being tried to plead guilty for a charge and in exchange receive a lower penalty. If a plea bargain is taken, the person charged will plead guilty to a charge before the criminal Judge and will be given a lowered sentence. If the charged person does not accept the plea bargain, further negotiations may be made. If there is no agreement, the case proceeds to trial.

Lets say David has been charged with a DUI where he has refused to take any BACstest. Officer’s observed him as slurring, smelling of alcohol and weaving in and out of lanes. David believe that because he refused to take the BAC they will have no proof as to his intoxication and the case will be dismissed. Prosecutors offer David a plea bargain. They explain to him that if he pleads to a misdemeanor DUI, they will drop any enhanced penalties because of the refusal, and give him the lower end of the legislative penalty for Driving while intoxicated in California. If David takes the offer, he will go before a Criminal Judge and plead guilty to a DUI, be sentenced and his case is closed. However, if David decided he absolutely believes he is innocent, or that there is not enough evidence to find him guilty, he will proceed to trial.

During a Los Angeles DMV hearing, the burden is on the driver to prove that they were not intoxicated while driving at the time of the arrest. If an attorney has been hired on the case, then it is the job of the attorney to present a case that demonstrates that there was little or no blood alcohol content. This is completed through testimony, casting doubt on the credibility of the arresting officer’s report and any additional witnesses or documents that are necessary.

During the routine DMV hearing the DMV officer will determine whether there was reasonable suspcicion of the arresting officer to stop the driver, whether a blood alcohol content test was taken, and whether the results of that test were over .08. For most DMV hearings, the issues addressed will be these. However, when no BAC test was taken, the DMV hearing will follow an alternate path.

When there is a refusal, the officer will address the issues pertaining to the refusal. They will ask what the reasons were for refusing to take any of the tests offered and whether the person was read an admonishment of rights regarding the refusal.

When a person is stopped and asked to take a Blood Alcohol Test, a refusal to do so, may lead to serious consequences. When a person is granted the privileges of driving in California, along with the obligations and duties is implied consent to cooperate if a driver is questioned by officers regarding a possible DUI. By holding a valid driver’s license, you are agreeing that if you are stopped by officers, you will comply with requests to take a breathalyzer or blood test in order to test your blood alcohol content (BAC). Refusing to take the BAC test will have serious consequences because you are going against your previously given consent.

During a DUI arrest, officers will administer BAC tests at two separate occasions. You will be given a field sobriety test at the scene of the stop when the officer initially questions the driver. The initial sobriety test is not required by law and will not have severe consequences for refusal. However, the breath or blood test you are asked to take after being taken into custody at the police station is required by law. You do have the right to refuse, but will face additional consequences if convicted of a DUI.

If you refuse to take the breath or blood test that is required, officers must admonish you of the consequences. They must read it verbatim from a form and have you sign it acknowledging that you understand the additional penalties you may face for having refused. If this form is not read and signed, there is a strong argument for any additional penalties incurred as a result of the refusal to be dismissed.

The proceedings at a Los Angeles DMV hearing are very different from those in Criminal Court. The DMV hearing may take in person, or at the request of a Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer, over the telephone. Telephonic hearings are often requested by the attorney so that they can help coach you with the testimony. The DMV hearing officer will call you the law office and the attorney and client will be present and listening over speaker phone. All dialogue is on the record and will be conducted with the professionalism and legal guidelines as any proceeding, but is just a lot more convenient for all parties involved.

The officer will call at a scheduled time and will confirm the name of the attorney and the client. The client is identified by providing full name, birth date and address. The attorney will be identified by providing a name, and address. The officer will introduce the different exhibits as evidence, one of which will be the arrest report including the officer’s statements. The issues will be stated and the officer will ask which the attorney stipulates to, and which he or she is contesting.

Once all issues have been stated and it has been entered on the record what is being contested the DMV hearing officer will swear in the client and any other witnesses that are going to testify on the record. The attorney will then ask the client questions, followed by any questions the officer may have.s

During a DMV Hearing the officer will ask questions and review the arrest report to determine several issues and make a decision regarding the restriction or suspension of your driver’s license based on their findings. All questions asked and evidence gathered will be directed towards determining answers and argument centered around the issues that must be determined.

At the hearing the DMV officer must first determine whether the arresting officer had valid probable cause to stop the driver. The officer may not stop any driver without a valid reason to do so. Majority of times the driver is stopped for a violation of the California Vehicle Code. This could be running a red light, speeding, an illegal u-turn, or similar offenses. If a person violates the vehicle code, the officer has a duty to stop the driver and cite them for the violation. If during the stop the officer believes the person may be intoxicated, they have the right to conduct a sobriety test to determine if they could possibly be guilty of a DUI.

An officer also has probable cause when they check up on a person who had gotten into an accident or is pulled over at the side of the road. When a person is pulled over or has just gotten into an accident, the officer must conduct a welfare check to determine whether the person is ok or if they need assistance. At the time of the check the officer may determine the person is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and give the person a sobriety test.

When a person has been charged and arrested for a Southern California Driving under the Influence charge they must appear before a criminal court Judge as well as a DMV hearing officer. The criminal court will determine if they are guilty of a DUI and will dismiss or sentence accordingly. The DMV hearing officer will hear the facts of the case and if found guilty will take actions against the person’s driver’s license.

Each person has the right to a criminal defense lawyer to represent them in both the criminal court proceedings and the DMV hearing. Hiring an attorney to represent the driver during the DMV hearing not only ensures that the person is properly prepared during the testimony, but also that their rights are protected. A powerful argument made during the DMV hearing can help prevent the California driver’s license suspension for an extensive amount of time, and in certain situations may allow them to retain the use of their license on a restricted basis.

During a DMV hearing the officer will present the arresting officer’s report and will give the person charged an opportunity to present their side of the case on the record. The driver has the burden of proving that they were not intoxicated while driving. They must prove their case through strategic testimony.

The burden of proof in a criminal case refers to whether the government (Department of Motor Vehicles or the Prosecutor) or the driver has to prove the person being charged meets the standard required to be found guilty of the offense.

During a DUI case in front of the Criminal Judge, the Prosecution has the burden to prove that the driver is guilty of driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs beyond a reasonable doubt. What this means is that the government attorney must demonstrate to the court that there is enough evidence that demonstrates the person was guilty of a DUI beyond the doubt of a reasonable person. If there is any kind of doubt upon any part of the evidence, or the evidence as a whole, the burden has not been met. The person being charged has no obligation to prove that they were not intoxicated and driving. They have the right to defend themselves against accusations made or presented by the government, but do not have the burden of disproving intoxication while driving. If the government cannot present enough evidence as to alleviate any reasonable doubt, then they have not met their burden and the driver is not guilty of a DUI.

Assuming as an example, a person is being charged with a DUI in front of a criminal Judge. Prosecution presents a Blood Alcohol Reading and the officer’s statements as evidence. However, the officer has been cited several times previously for fabricating reports and there is a conflict between his story and the driver’s. There was a second car on scene that witnessed the whole event and corroborates the driver’s story causing further doubt on the officer’s report. Additionally, the blood alcohol machine records show that the machine has not been calibrated or sent for proper maintenance in a few years resulting in a margin of error on readings.sDue to the discrepancies in the officer’s report and the possible erroneous reading on the breathalyzer the prosecutor has not proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The accused driver has no obligation to show through evidence that he was not intoxicated, the case will be dismissed.