Many motorists arrested for DUI do not understand the relationship between their criminal case and the DMV. Arrests for driving under the influence trigger two separate cases: the criminal case and the DMV case.
The DMV hearing following a DUI arrest is known as an “administrative per se” hearing, or APS. At the time of your arrest, the police officer will take your drivers license and issue you’re a temporary license which is good for 30 days. If you want to fight the suspension, you must request an administrative hearing with the DMV, within 10 days of your arrest. If you do not, you lose the right to have a hearing and your license suspension will automatically go into effect after 30 days.
The hearing is held at the DMV office nearest to where the arrest occurred. A DMV employee, called a “hearing officer” will conduct the hearing. The hearing officer decides whether or not you were driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. The hearing officer can make this decision based on the police report and/or the blood or breath test results, without hearing any witness testimony. However, you are entitled to testify and to subpoena other witnesses, including the arresting police officer.
If you lost the administrative hearing, your license suspension will go into effect. The amount of time of the suspension depends on various factors, including whether or not you have prior DUIs and whether or not you refused to take a chemical test.
Your drivers license will be returned to you at the end of the suspension or revocation, provided you pay a reissue fee to the DMV and you file proof of financial responsibility. If it is determined that there is no basis for suspending or revoking your license, it will be issued or returned to you.
The criminal court case is entirely separate from the DMV hearing. Even if you win your DMV hearing, if you are subsequently convicted in criminal court, the DMV will suspend your license when it receives notice of the conviction. And, if your plea to lesser charges or your case is dismissed in criminal court, in most instances your DMV suspension will still remain in effect.
However, if a Judge or jury in your criminal case determines that you are “not guilty” of the DUI charges, you can ask the DMV to overturn your administrative suspension based on that finding.
You have the right to a lawyer at a DMV administrative hearing. If you have been arrested for a vehicle code violation, including a DUI, call Robbi A. Cook at 510-208-5051 for a free consultation.