Being charged with a DUI in California will put in motion two processes. One is your case in the criminal court system. You will be tried in a criminal court and the conviction will show up on your criminal record. The second process is through the DMV, which handles DUIs independently of the courts. The DMV is only concerned with your driving privileges and, when it appears you have abused those privileges, they instate consequences but they are only applicable to your driving rights. The DMV is not concerned with your criminal activity. The DMV is notified of your DUI arrest by the courts. When you are arrested, your driver's license will be confiscated and you will be given an Order of Suspension/Revocation that serves as notice of your automatic license suspension under the DMV's Admin Per Se program. This program processes the automatic license suspensions that come along with a DUI. The Order of Suspension/Revocation along with your license will also be sent to the DMV, which begins your processing through the DMV DUI proceedings. To apply to get your license back, after fulfilling the terms of your suspension, you can pay a $125 reissuance fee to the DMV and provide proof of financial responsibility. For a DUI, this is called an SR-22 insurance filing. The DMV will then review your case documents, like the police report, the order you received and any test results. If through the review it is concluded the suspension is not valid, you will be notified in writing from the DMV of the dismissal. If you choose to contest the suspension, you do have the right to request an administrative hearing through the DMV within ten days of receiving your Order of Suspension/Revocation. You do not have to request the hearing however if you are not contesting the suspension. This hearing will be separate from any hearing you have in court as a result of your DUI. At this hearing, you have the opportunity to testify against anything you disagree with from the arresting officer's account. The police report will be important here. You can request a copy of your police report be mailed to you prior to the hearing to prepare your defense. The police report will note the facts of your case and any subjective observations the arresting officer made at the time of your arrest. This will be part of the administrative review the DMV conducts upon receipt of your Order of Suspension/Revocation. The DMV will consider only a few factors at your hearing to determine whether your license will be suspended and for how long: whether or not the arresting officer pulled you over on probably cause, whether or not you were lawfully arrested and detained and whether or not your BAC level at the time of testing as at or above .08%, the legal BAC limit in California for DUIs, assuming you did not refuse the BAC test. There is an important exception however; if you were stopped and arrested at a DUI checkpoint, the absence of probably cause will not mean you get to keep your license. You probably have heard that there are mandatory and automatic suspensions if you refused to take the BAC test. This will be considered as well, in addition to the main review points. If you were arrested and had your license suspended, you were then taken to the station and given a BAC test then. The DMV will review those test results when considering your license suspension. The refusal to submit to a BAC test at the time of arrest will simply result in a penalty but will not let you keep your license. If you've gone through the hearing process with the courts and you were acquitted of the DUI charge, the DMV will review the circumstances of the acquittal before reinstating your license. It is not an automatic reinstatement however and you must take action to get your license back. Similarly, after you have fulfilled the terms of your suspension, you must apply to the DMV to have your license reinstated, which includes a $125 reissuance fee and a mandatory filing for financial responsibility.
If you or a loved one is facing DUI charges and have questions about your driving rights, contact experienced DUI defense attorney Christopher Martens for expert counsel. The skilled legal team at The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can help ensure you take the right next steps in your case. Contact our offices in Hanford and Visalia at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss your case.