DMV Hearings

DMV Hearings v. Superior Court If you've been charged with a DUI, you actually face two reviews of your case. One involves the more well-known path that goes through the county superior court system. This is where criminal charges are filed by the district attorney and, if necessary, a trial is held. The law that governs DUIs in California is Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a) & (b). Section (a) makes it a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, while section (b) specifically declares it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher.

DUIs also follow a less well known route through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which holds an Administrative Per Se hearing for every person accused of driving at or above the legal limit of 0.08%. This hearing is separate from the criminal review that takes place in the courts. The purpose is to decide if DMV will suspend a defendant's driver's license. The outcome of the DMV hearing has no bearing on the criminal charges filed by the district attorney in superior court, and visa versa.

You need a highly qualified Sacramento DMV hearing defense attorney to protect your rights in these two complex legal proceedings. Having practiced criminal law for over twenty years in this region, I can provide you the legal help you need.

Steps Leading Up to the DMV Hearing
  • A person cited for DUI will automatically have her driver's license taken by the police. A temporary license good for 30 days will be issued after the defendant is release from custody.
  • DMV will automatically suspend the defendant's driver's license unless a request is made to DMV within 10 calendar days to schedule the administrative per se hearing.
  • Once DMV receives that request for a hearing, it issues another temporary license that's good until the outcome of the hearing.
DMV Hearing Procedures
While proceedings in superior court are overseen by a judge, the admin per se hearing is overseen by a DMV Hearing Officer. The defendant can have a defense attorney, but there is no prosecuting attorney and no jury. After hearing arguments from the defendant and the DMV hearing defense attorney, reviewing evidence, and in some instances hearing testimony from the arresting officer, the DMV Hearing Officer determines whether the driver's license should be suspended. If it is suspended, the length of the suspension is dependent on whether the defendant submitted to a blood alcohol test after arrest and whether there are previous DUIs on the defendant's record.

DMV hearings have different rules of evidence and procedure than do criminal trials. One is that where criminal trials use the standard of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for conviction, DMV hearings use a mere preponderance of evidence. What that means is that the hearing officer must simply believe that there's more evidence of guilt than of innocence. Another distinction between DMV hearings and the courts is that there are different rules of evidence. For instance, hearsay statements - in which a person describes what was said by another person  - are admissible in DMV hearings, even though they are barred from court trials.

Free and Confidential Consultation
Because of this complicated dual-track system, it's important to be represented by a Sacramento criminal defense lawyer who knows the law and the DMV regulations pertaining to DUI. With my nearly 20 years of experience in criminal law in the Sacramento region, I can advise you on an effective defense for your DUI case. Call me at (916) 442-1200 for a free and confidential consultation.