DMV License Suspension Hearing

Once a driver has been arrested for DUI and booked at the police station, they will be served with a DMV Notice of Suspension.  This suspension will take effect in 30 days — unless an administrative hearing is requested (see below).

Accompanying the suspension will be a DMV form called an “Officer’s Statement -Admin Per Se”, completed by the arresting officer and setting forth the facts of the case relevant to the suspension.  This document is signed under oath by the officer and forwarded to the department directly.

The arrestee then has 10 days to request a license suspension hearing by contacting a local DMV office of Driver Safety.  It is vital that a hearing is requested within this rigid 10-day window, or the right to a hearing is permanently lost and the suspension will automatically take effect 30 days from the date of arrest.

Vehicle Code § 13558(d) and (e) provide that your DUI attorney can obtain a stay of the suspension if the request for a hearing was made within ten days of the notice or if the requested hearing cannot be scheduled before the thirty-day temporary license expires.  Note:  the hearing is completely independent from the criminal court proceedings; it is not uncommon to win one proceeding and lose the other.

Before the hearing is held, an internal administrative review will be conducted by the DMV on the case to ensure that the evidence complies with the requirements for an administrative suspension. Once this review is complete, and the demand for a hearing is made by the driver’s attorney, a hearing date is set.

The hearing will take place at a nearby venue near where the initial arrest occurred. Unless the parties agree to a different location, the hearing is usually held at one of the DMV Driver Safety field offices; the Orange County office is in the City of Orange. Note: Although there is no charge to the driver for the hearing, if his attorney plans to subpoena the officer, the police agency involved will almost always charge a fee for the officer’s appearance.

Strange and unfair as it may seem, the DMV hearing officers act as both prosecutor and judge. They conduct the hearing, direct-examine any department witnesses, and cross examine the DUI client (if he appears) and defense witnesses — and then decide who wins!  Note: the driver does not have to appear at the hearing, but if he does, unlike in a criminal trial he may be called by the hearing officer and examined.

The individual should certainly retain a law firm within the 10-day period that specializes in DUI defense and is familiar with the administrative laws and procedures that are involved.  Note: Many inexperienced or low-cost attorneys will represent their clients at the DMV hearing by telephone; a competent DUI defense attorney will appear personally at the hearing to conduct examination, objections and arguments.