When it comes to driving under the influence (DUI) in Los Angeles County and the loss of your driver's license, your best strategy is to consult a seasoned DUI defense attorney right away. Many different factors go into what will happen with your driver's license related to a DUI.
I always try and get the client into my office immediately to lay everything out on the table and see what they are up against and what they can do to defend themselves.
In Los Angeles, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) controls what happens to a person's driver's license when arrested for a DUI-related offense. Each person is entitled to a DMV hearing related to their license, as long as they contact the DMV or have their attorney do so within ten days of their arrest.
When we call the DMV for our clients and ask for a hearing related to the suspension, we always send a letter to confirm the request and confirm the fact that we called within the appropriate time frame. This, of course, is to guard against the DMV trying to claim they never received the request.
Once the DMV is contacted, the person whose license was taken away is entitled to a hearing either in person or over the phone. The DMV will then send a copy of the evidence they will use against the person to prove their case.
The person whose license is subject to being suspended can also present evidence at the hearing. Ultimately, a DMV hearing officer will decide if they met their burden to suspend the person's driver's license. If a person wants to present evidence or witnesses to defend against their license being suspended, they must turn it over to the DMV before the hearing so they have a chance to try and refute it if they can.
Also, both the Department of Motor Vehicles and the client have the right to subpoena witnesses to testify at the DMV hearing if they so choose. Finally, the defendant can testify at the hearing if they choose but can not be forced to do so by the DMV. However, if they testify, the DMV hearing officer can ask questions.
DUI Blood Alcohol Level
The DMV must show that the subject person was lawfully pulled over, lawfully arrested and that their blood alcohol level was a .08 or greater at the time of driving. If they can show all three of these requirements, they will suspend the person's driver's license.
The length of the suspension depends on the person's criminal/driving record, how many prior DUI's they have, and whether they refused to take the blood or alcohol test when asked to do so by the police. If, on the other hand, the DMV hearing officer cannot prove one of the above three requirements, they cannot suspend the license administratively.
Unfortunately, going against the DMV is an uphill battle for many reasons. First, they have the police as their main witnesses and evidence. California law permits them to submit the police report to form the basis for their case against the person subject to suspension.
As you can guess, this creates a challenging situation to defend against. The Department submits the police report as evidence, the defense objects, and the objection is overruled, and the police report is typically always admitted into evidence.
This procedure makes it very difficult to win a DMV hearing. Of course, the defense can subpoena the arrested police officer under the appropriate circumstances and ask as many relevant questions as they deem appropriate to try and undermine the case against them.