Get a Stay to Stay on the Road
Once you're arrested for a DUI, the countdown to your license suspension begins. The arresting officer will give you a notice of your suspension, which states your suspension will go into effect in 30 days. Inaction is the quickest route to losing your license. If you do nothing, the DMV will automatically suspend your license in 30 days, leaving you with no options. If you take action, however, you might be able to postpone your license suspension past those 30 days. The trick to postponing your license suspension is requesting a DMV administrative hearing. Once you request the hearing, the DMV will put a stay on your suspension until you have your hearing.
How a Hearing Can Help
If your hearing is scheduled within the 30 days following your arrest, your suspension could still go into effect if you don't prevail. But the DMV often has a backlog of administrative hearing requests, meaning it could be several weeks until it can hear your case. During this time, you are free to keep driving. Since you have a right to due process, the DMV cannot suspend your license until you've had the right to defend yourself. If you do not request the hearing, however, you effectively waive that right.
Requesting a Hearing
Whether you think you will prevail or not, always request a DMV administrative hearing. And do so immediately. You only have ten days in which to request a hearing after your arrest. Request it as soon as you can, so you have a better idea of how long you will have to wait before your hearing. This will also give you time to prepare for your hearing.
Prevailing at a DMV administrative hearing could be easier than you think. The reason for this is the issues the hearing officer will look at in the hearing are limited to whether or not the license suspension is lawful. Your guilt or innocence of driving under the influence won't be established at the hearing. The hearing officer will be looking at the technicalities of your arrest, such as:
- Were you pulled over lawfully (did the officer have probable cause?)
- Did the officer have probable cause to arrest you?
- Did you refuse to take a chemical (BAC) test?
- If not, were you informed of the consequences of refusing a chemical test?
Believe it or not, small oversights such as the officer arresting you without probable cause or filling in a form wrong could result in your suspension being set aside. You never know what the outcome of your hearing could be, so, again, always request a hearing to give yourself that chance of keeping your license.
It's important to know that even if the DMV sets aside your suspension and lets you keep your license, the criminal court could suspend your license if you are convicted of a DUI. The DMV hearing is just one part of your DUI case. Both the DMV and the criminal court can suspend your license, but those suspensions will run concurrently. And the results of your DMV hearing will not affect your criminal case. It's important to understand the distinction between the two, so you can prepare for each hearing individually.
You have a right to legal representation at DMV hearings. You should exercise this right whenever facing a DMV license suspension. The DMV will not provide you with an attorney. You should consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney in your area. An attorney can immediately request a hearing for you, which may result in a stay on your license suspension. And, though DMV proceedings are more informal than criminal court proceedings—and not heard by a judge—you still need to prepare an effective defense. Doing so will take a thorough knowledge of how the DMV makes decisions in these hearings, so work closely with a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney when preparing for your DMV hearing.
Being arrested for a DUI is stressful, but experienced Visalia area DUI defense attorney Christopher Martens can help you face your charges. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you build a strategic defense to fight your charges. Attorney Martens has practiced criminal defense for over ten years and knows how to defend your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at MartensL[email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.