An Administrative Review
A California driver who has received notice from the DMV regarding action taken against his or her driving privileges (e.g. a suspension) may request an administrative hearing to challenge the action. Administrative hearings differ from court hearings in several ways. They are less formal, heard in front of a hearing officer rather than a judge in a courtroom, and are sometimes held over the phone.
Administrative hearings are similar to court hearings in a few ways as well. In both hearings, you (the defendant) have the right to present your evidence and challenge the evidence the DMV presents. The process of gathering and producing evidence in a case is called the discovery process, which produces discovery (i.e. evidence and other information). In regards to DMV administrative hearings, the discovery is limited by the relevant facts at hand. The DMV only addresses certain issues in administrative hearings because it is only concerned with whether your license should be suspended based on your DUI arrest. It is not concerned with your criminal culpability in the same way the criminal court is. In DUI license suspension cases, the DMV will typically produce a sworn statement from the arresting officer in addition to the full police report and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test results. It may also call on witnesses to provide testimony. The arresting officer may be called on as well, but this is less common. The DMV will present its evidence against you first, and you will follow.
You can request copies of the DMV's discovery before your hearing so you can conduct a full review. Having the discovery can give you a chance to know what you are up against. If the DMV does not send you this information before your hearing, you should speak with an attorney about what you can do. You might be able to get a continuance (i.e. push the hearing to a later date) if you have not received any information from the DMV and you want more time to review. It's important to have this information before you attend your hearing, so you know what the officer said in the report and what your BAC level was. This information can also help you strategize a defense in your criminal case.
Your Rights and Your Role
The point of the administrative hearing is to show the DMV the suspension or revocation is not justified. The defendant has the right to bring an affirmative defense to the suspension by presenting evidence that will support the argument that the suspension or revocation is not justified. You can present evidence as well as oral testimony. If you plan on calling a witness, including the arresting officer, you are responsible for ensuring your witnesses is properly subpoenaed, and you must pay any related fees.
How to Strategize Your Evidence
The type of evidence you should present will depend on the evidence the DMV presents, the facts and circumstances of the case, and your defense approach. For this reason, it is a good idea to enlist the help of an experienced California driving crime defense attorney when facing any DMV administrative proceedings. Testifying on your behalf can be risky, and you risk self-incrimination. There are also many rules that govern the use of evidence in these cases, and you must comply with those rules for the evidence to be considered by the hearing officer.
Don't face DUI charges alone. If you have received a Notice of Suspension/Revocation, contact a knowledgeable California DUI defense attorney immediately. You only have ten days in which to request an administrative hearing with the DMV with very few exceptions. An attorney can help you request a hearing within the specified timeframe and help you prepare for your hearing including compiling supporting evidence for you to present and obtaining copies of the evidence the DMV will present to plan a strategic defense.
Are you facing DUI charges? Visalia area DUI and driving crime defense attorney Christopher Martens can assist you with fighting your charges and help you achieve a favorable outcome. 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.