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How Does the DMV Hearing Process Work as it Relates to my Commercial Driver’s License?

As mentioned throughout this website, the costs, and repercussions of a DUI can be daunting. In Los Angeles, it is a well-accepted fact that if you want to get anywhere in this city, you will need to drive there. It is not common knowledge that being able to drive is a privilege, not a right. This privilege is granted by the state of California, and may be taken away without much trouble. This is especially true with people who also hold a commercial driver’s license. Losing your license in Los Angeles raises questions people never had to address prior to their arrest. In rush hour traffic, how is someone without a license supposed to get to work, school, and other appointments? Public transit in Los Angeles is not known for being particularly functional; being arrested for driving under the influence can have a profound impact on the life of someone who resides in Los Angeles. Luckily, you have up to 10 days to request a hearing at the Department of Motor Vehicles to challenge a potential license suspension. In the event that you are also a commercial driver with a commercial license, it is imperative that you approach your DMV hearing aggressively; your attorney at Los Angeles DU Attorney Law Firm will fight for you to maintain your license, and your livelihood.  

DMV hearings are structured in a way that makes it difficult to keep your license. The DMV hearing is a due process right that frequently occurs for appearances only. The administrative judge at your DUI hearing are generally not lawyers, and will not be persuaded by appealing to their sensibilities with arguments about how central your ability to drive is to your life, the know your license is important to you.. After you have been arrested for a DUI, contact an attorney at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm so they can review your case while it is fresh in your memory, and build the strongest defense possible for both your DMV hearing, as well as the criminal DUI case against you. The importance of being represented by competent counsel cannot be overstated. In this article, we will discuss the process of the DMV hearing, what happens based on the outcome of that hearing, and what defenses tend to succeed in the DMV hearing. 

Once you have been arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department, or other arresting agency, likely took away your California Driver’s License immediately following your arrest. If you have a driver’s license from another state, please refer to our DMV article “Out of State Driver’s Licenses.” In addition to taking your driver’s license away from you, the arresting agency will provide you with a temporary license, which will be on a pink piece of paper; this is referred to as an “Admin Per Se.” The clock begins ticking on your right to request a hearing with the DMV to advocate for the return of your driver’s license, without any restrictions on it. You have ten (10) days from the day you were arrested, including weekends, to contact the DMV and request a DMV hearing. If you are considering being represented by an attorney at this hearing, which we highly recommend you do, if you truly want your license back, contact the attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm prior to contacting the DMV. Our skilled attorneys contact the DMV to schedule your hearing date, file a request with the DMV to delay suspending your license until the DMV hearing has reached a resolution, gathered all the necessary information and reports necessary for a successful defense, and determine if our goals will be best served by an “in-person” hearing or a “telephonic” hearing. Many of the attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm are “specialists” in administrative law; their entire job is appearing at administrative proceedings; specifically, DMV hearings. 

An administrative law specialist is particularly important in certain situations including: (1) you are required to have a valid driver’s license for your job, (2) you have a commercial driver’s license, (3) you have a pilot’s license; or (4) you have a HAZMAT endorsement. Regardless of whether you need a specialist, having skilled and experienced attorneys advocating for you at the DMV hearing will vastly improve your chances of retaining your license, and your way of life in a big city.

What Topics Will be Covered at the DMV Hearing?

As mentioned above, a DMV hearing is referred to as an administrative hearing. This is so because the Department of Motor Vehicles is an “agency” created by the executive branch of the government; all hearings, and proceedings, involving an “agency” that was created by the executive branch are “administrative.” This hearing provides the person who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence the opportunity to advocate against the suspension of their license. At the hearing, the accused (or the accused’s attorney) will have an opportunity to present evidence in support of their contention that suspension of their driver’s license is not appropriate in their case. It should be clarified, the DMV hearing will not be determining whether, or not, you are guilty of driving under the influence; they will simply be determining whether the administrative remedy of suspending your license is appropriate. Guilt, or innocence, is decided by the Court; the Courts are part of the judicial branch of government. At your DMV hearing, the following questions will be addressed:

1) Was there reasonable suspicion to believe that the accused was driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, or alcohol? “Reasonable suspicion” is less than the “probable case” requirement for an arrest, but “the police officer must be able to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts…” that the individual has committed a crime; which can include traffic violations.1

2) Was there “probable cause” to place the accused under arrest for driving under the influence? “Probable cause exists where the facts and circumstances within the officer’s knowledge and of which they had reasonably trustworthy information are sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that an offense has been or is being committed.”2 

1 Terry v. Ohio 392 U.S. 1, at 21

 2Brinegar v. U.S. 338 U.S. 160, at 175-176

3) Was the accused properly informed that a consequence of refusing to perform the blood, or breath, test may result in a suspension of their driver’s license for an undetermined period of time3

4) After being informed of the consequences of declining to perform a test, as requested by the arresting officer, did the accused comply with the officer’s request that they perform either a blood, or breath, test to determine their blood alcohol concentration 4

After the administrative judge hears, and sees, all the evidence relating to the four (4) questions listed above, they will issue something referred to as a “Notice of Findings and Facts.” In this document, the administrative judge will decide whether or not to “set aside” the DMV license suspension against you. It bears noting that the administrative judge’s finding of fact does not carry over to the criminal proceedings against you. That is, the administrative judge’s decision cannot be used as evidence of guilt or innocence.

How Will my Commercial License be Affected if I am Arrested for Driving Under the Influence? In order to be considered a “commercial driver” an individual must hold a “CDL”, which is known as a commercial driver’s license. Having a CDL allows an individual to drive certain classes of automobiles. These automobiles include the following:

  • An automobile that weighs 26,000 or more pounds gross. This number may be affected by a towed object of more than 10,000 pounds.
  • Bus for school, tanker, or double trailer.
  • Automobile that can carry 10 or more individuals; this includes the driver.
  •     Any automobile that is capable of transporting hazardous materials

3 The standard period of time that a license is suspended for refusal to submit to a test is one (1) year, but it can be longer in some circumstances.

4 In some circumstances, the accused has a physical disability, which prevents them from complying with the request. For example, some people do not have the lung capacity to provide an adequate breath sample; this is not treated as a refusal by the DMV, if they are satisfied that you suffer from that malady. 

  • If you are found guilty of driving under the influence, even of a vehicle that is not a commercial vehicle; your commercial license will be suspended for one year.

If you are convicted of multiple DUIs, you may face a lifetime suspension of your CDL. 

  •  If you are convicted of a DUI, you will not be eligible to obtain a restricted license. 
  • A CDL driver does not qualify to receive a restricted license following any DUI

What Can my Attorney do to Improve my Chances of Winning at the DMV Hearing?

Under the supervision of attorney Vincent Ross, the attorneys at Los Angeles Dui Attorney Law Firm have gained the benefit of tutelage from an attorney who has practiced, and obtained superior results for nearly three decades. Having been trained by the best, our attorneys know every trick in the book to improve the chances of a favorable outcome at your DMV hearing and DUI trial. Some of these strategies/arguments include:

  1. At the time you were stopped, and subsequently arrest, there is no evidence that you were driving;
  2. If you were arrested at a DUI checkpoint, the checkpoint was not in compliance with the law;
  3. he officer lacked reasonable suspicion to pull you over in the first place; and
  4. The officer did not wait the required 15 minutes between stopping and testing you.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles County, and have a commercial driver’s license, contact an attorney at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm immediately so we can begin preparing your case for your DMV hearing, as well as for your criminal case. Contact us at 424-285-5400

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