Having defended DUI’s over the course of the last twenty-five years, I’m familiar with what it takes in order to get your license back if you’ve been charged and convicted with a DUI. First, if it’s a first offense, then after the police arrest you and let you go, will typically give you a pink piece of paper that serves as your temporary license during a thirty-day period of time after your arrest. The police will take your regular license away and send it to the DMV and also send other paperwork to the DMV in order to alert them to the fact that you’ve received a DUI, so they can start suspension proceedings.
What I do as an attorney once I get retained on a DUI matter, is I will contact the DMV on your behalf and let them know that I represent you and I’ll also send them a letter to that effect, so things are documented and there’s no uncertainty about whether or not we made the deadline. There’s ten days from the day of your arrest that you have to get a call in to the DMV and let them know that you want a DMV hearing related to any suspension and you want a stay on any suspension until you get the hearing. As long as that call is made within the ten days and done in the proper manner and is documented so the DMV can’t claim they didn’t get the notice, you shouldn’t have any problem getting the hearing and being able to defend your rights. So, the first step in my opinion is to hire an attorney who’s been done this road before and has done DUI cases and been successful in getting people’s licenses back for them and allow that attorney to operate within the DMV system to get your license back for you as fast as possible.
Once we set the hearing, we then get the discovery in the case. The discovery is either provided through the court related to the criminal case, or it’s provided by the DMV in preparation for the upcoming hearing. If your hearing is set more than thirty days away from your arrest, then the temporary pink license will be extended out and you will be able to drive past that thirty days until your attorney does your DMV hearing for you. It’s important that you get the new temporary license so that if you’re pulled over during that time frame between the arrest and doing your DMV hearing, they’re able to show the police that you’re lawfully driving, and they don’t issue you a suspended license ticket.
At the hearing, the three basic things that the DMV must prove is that you were lawfully stopped or that the police lawfully came in contact with you. Number two, that the police lawfully arrested you, and number three, that your blood alcohol level was a .08 or greater or that you refused to take the test. If they can prove all three of these things and they’re going to take your license away on a first offense for a real thirty days, after that you will be able to get it back on a restricted basis to drive to and from work, to and from school, as long as you install an ignition interlock device and enroll in a first offender alcohol program. Whenever you’re dealing with this issue with the DMV, it’s crucial that you call the DMV yourself and make sure that you have all of the requirements that they’re going to need in order for you to drive lawfully, get a restricted license and eventually get your regular driver’s license back.
In determining whether or not the police came in contact with you lawfully, the DMV hearing officer is going to see whether you committed some sort of a traffic violation to permit the police to pull you over and talk to you and decide whether or not you’ve been drinking or driving. There’s other ways the police can come in contact with you. Sometimes people either become involved in an accident or are on the side of the freeway or the side of the road. Other times, the police are present when something happens related to your vehicle. Maybe you have become incapacitated or you fall asleep and the police come upon you. So, there’s a myriad of different ways that the police can come upon you. The key for purposes of a DUI in a justified stop, is that they have to be able to show that they lawfully came in contact with you or that they lawfully stopped you.
As far as determining whether or not it is a lawful arrest, the police have to believe that you are so intoxicated that you cannot safely operate a motor vehicle. That’s why they do the field sobriety test because those tests are supposed to be designed to determine whether you can safely operate a car. Of course, these are subjective tests and they are not always 100% accurate. That’s why a lot of times trying to get video evidence of you doing a test and other indications that you were driving safely is crucial to your defense. Also, they can look at how you were walking, how you were talking, if they saw how you were driving the car – these are all factors that can go into determining whether you can be arrested for a DUI.
Finally, in order to be able to take someone’s driver’s license away, the police are going to have to be able to show that you blood alcohol level was a .08 or greater or that you refused to take the test. The two main tests that are used in Los Angeles county to determine whether someone is a DUI, is the breath test that can be done by way of a small PAS device that they have out in the field or the big machine back at the station. The big machine at the station is the official test, and really the only one that the courts and prosecutors will zero in on when deciding whether or not they’ve got a good case against you. They could also take your blood which is probably the most accurate of the tests and see if that’s over a .08, and then lastly, if you refuse to take the test then it’s automatically presumed that you are a DUI. The reason they have this law set up is because if they didn’t, then everybody would just refuse to take the test and they wouldn’t be able to get anybody for a DUI.
The bottom line is, in order to get your license back, you either need to go through all the processes that the DMV indicates, and/or you need to sit down with a qualified DUI defense attorney and allow them to guide you through the system and help you get your license back as fast as possible.