Don't Sabotage Your Chances
You should be at your best at your DMV DUI hearing. A lot is at stake, and you only have a limited amount of time to prove your license should not be suspended. To give you a better chance of prevailing, here are five things you absolutely shouldn't do at your DMV DUI hearing.
Confuse Your Criminal Court Proceedings With Your DMV Proceedings
This is a mistake defendants who represent themselves frequently make. They don't realize the criminal court proceedings are separate from the DMV proceedings. Even worse, they assume the criminal court and the DMV are looking for the same thing. In reality, the criminal court is concerned with whether you are guilty while the DMV is only concerned with whether your license suspension is lawful. These are different issues. Confusing these two proceedings—or rather assuming they are one in the same—could hurt your case. It's very important to understand both processes so you can approach each one with a strategy. Planning on explaining to the DMV how you only had a few drinks and was not under the influence? Think again. There are a time and place for everything.
DMV hearings are limited in scope and held informally. The burden of proof is on the DMV, but if you were arrested and took a chemical test, it probably has all the evidence it needs to make a strong case. Nevertheless, it's crucial you know what issues will be covered in the hearing and prepare a compelling argument. Don't disrespect the hearing officer's time; you want him or her on your side. Know what you are getting yourself into by requesting a hearing. Have a strategy, and stay on track when speaking. If you need help preparing an argument or gathering evidence, work with a DUI defense attorney with experience appearing at DMV hearings. You should always exercise your right to a DMV hearing, but you should work with an attorney to make the most of it.
Say the Wrong Thing
Again, you need a strategy and a compelling argument to win your case. If you say the wrong thing, however, your efforts could be wasted. For example, if you make claims you can't back up or accidentally say something that helps the DMV's argument; you're wasting your time. Make sure you understand what you should and shouldn't say before going to your hearing.
Expect the Hearing Officer to Do You Any Favors
You can't win over the hearing officer by pointing the finger or badmouthing the arresting officer. You also won't avoid a license suspension by saying you were sorry, and it won't happen again. Though held informally, treat your hearing officer as you would a judge. He or she will be deciding on your license suspension, but this isn't like talking yourself out of a ticket. Again, the hearing officer is only concerned with the lawfulness of your suspension and will review limited issues, including:
- Whether the officer legally pulled you over
- Whether the officer arrested you lawfully (i.e., whether there was probable cause)
- Whether your BAC test was over the legal limit, and
- Whether you were informed of the consequences of refusing a chemical test
The hearing officer will not consider anything beyond these issues.
Fail to Speak With an Attorney Before Your Hearing
Even if you choose to represent yourself at the hearing, it is worth your time to consult with a DUI defense attorney. An attorney can give you information about the hearing procedures and what you can expect. Even just a brief orientation to the process can help you feel more prepared.
DMV DUI proceedings can be complicated and should be taken as seriously as your criminal court proceedings. Don't make any of these mistakes. They are easy to make but impossible to make up for. Speak with a California DUI defense attorney with experience handling DMV hearings to get helpful information. If you choose to hire an attorney, he or she can help you craft a defense and prepare you for your hearing.
Are you facing DUI charges? Visalia area DUI and driving crime defense attorney Christopher Martens can help you fight your charges and defend your rights. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Mr. Martens has handled thousands of cases and has taken over 50 to trial. Attorney Christopher Martens has the skills and knowledge needed to defend your rights. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide expert criminal defense counsel. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.