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First Offense DUI: DMV Hearing Regarding License Suspension – What to Expect

It is an unfortunate reality that many people are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Los Angeles every day. It also an unfortunate reality that many people know someone who has been arrested for driving under the influence; many people even know someone who has been convicted of a First Offense DUI. If you have not already done so, take a moment to review our article on “First Offense DUI” under the “DUI” tab at the top of your page. Once you have finished that article, return to this article. This article is designed to go into more detail regarding what to expect at your DMV hearing following your arrest on suspicion of a First Offense DUI. This article will attempt to explain the following information to our reader: (1) a general introduction into the arrest for a DUI, (2) a detailed explanation of what will occur at your DMV hearing, (3) the penalties associated with various driving under the influence charges; and (4) what an attorney from Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm can do on your behalf. 

 If you are charged with a first offense “simple” DUI, a DMV suspension is automatically triggered, and will remain in effect absent a favorable outcome at your DMV hearing, or a dismissal/acquittal of the charges against you in criminal court. California Vehicle Code §13352(a)(1) dictates the mandatory 6 month suspension of your license following a “simple” first offense DUI conviction; §13352(a)(1)-(3) encompasses the length of time your license will be suspended based on variations of a “simple” DUI charged. Much like the 6-month suspension however, these suspensions can be “set aside” if you obtain a favorable result at your DMV hearing, or at your criminal trial. If you have been arrested for a first time DUI, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm as soon as you are able. Having an attorney on your side at your hearing can have a significant impact on the results of the hearing itself. Los Angeles is a city on the move, and it is important that you have the ability to drive your car if you want to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time. From the moment you meet your attorney for your “initial consultation” all the way through sentencing, if necessary, your attorney will be working day and night to obtain the best results possible; of course, nobody can guarantee how a case will turn out – we can guarantee we will fight for you though.  

 (1)Brief Introduction to an Arrest for a DUI

In the event that you do not want to read the detailed article on a first offense DUI, this section will briefly address how the process that has resulted in your DMV hearing typically begins. An officer has stopped you on suspicion that you are either driving under the influence of alcohol (or drugs), or because they observed you commit a moving violation. Once the officer approaches the vehicle, they develop a suspicion that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The officer then conducts what is known as a “preliminary alcohol screening test”, also known as a “PAS” Test; this is typically in the form of a breathalyzer test. If the test yields a BAC of 0.08% or higher, the officer will arrest you on suspicion of driving under the influence . When you are arrested, the arresting officer will confiscate your California Driver’s License, and provide a pink slip of paper, which operates as your temporary license; this is named an “Admin Per Se.” At this point, you have 10 days to contact the DMV and request a hearing for the purpose of convincing the DMV to choose not to impose the automatic suspension of your license .  With that, let’s discuss the DMV hearing itself.

I am About to Have a DMV Hearing for my First DUI, What Can I Expect?

As mentioned above, upon your arrest if your BAC registered as 0.08% or higher , the arresting officer will confiscate your driver’s license and the Department of Motor Vehicles will be notified of the arrest. Once the Department of Motor Vehicles is notified that you were arrested with a BAC of 0.08%, or higher, it will trigger an automatic suspension of your license. At this point two timelines begin running; the important timeline is dependent on whether or not you request a DMV hearing. If you want to request a DMV hearing, you have 10 days from the time of your arrest to make the request; the license suspension will begin on the date a decision is made, provided it is an unfavorable decision. If you do not request a DMV hearing, the temporary license you received from the officer (the pink piece of paper) will expire 30 days after your arrest, and the suspension will begin at that time. 

If you intend to request a DMV hearing, it would be prudent to contact an attorney from Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm before making the request so that our experienced attorneys can provide all the required documentation necessary to process your request, as well as begin preparing a strong defense for your case. It bears repeating, the DMV hearing is not focused on the hardship losing your license will have on you, and it is more akin to a mini-trial where you show that critical elements of an accusation of driving under the influence are not present. The DMV hearing focuses on 3 central questions:

        (1)    Did “reasonable suspicion” sufficiently exist to justify the initial traffic stop, which ultimately led to your arrest for driving under the influence?

        (2) Is there sufficient evidence that, at the time of arrest, your blood alcohol content was 0.08% or higher?

        (3) Was there “probable cause” to effectuate an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence?

After the administrative judge who is overseeing the DMB hearing has heard all the arguments, and reviewed all the evidence our attorney has submitted on your behalf, the administrative judge will issue a “finding of fact” along with a determination regarding whether or not the suspension of your license should take effect, or whether the suspension should be “set aside” pending the resolution of the criminal case against you . If the administrative judge determines that the suspension should be enforced, your license suspension will begin on the date the “finding of fact” is issued. The amount of time your license is suspended is dependent on what you are being charged with. Below we will briefly discuss the penalties associated with the three relevant DUI charges that may be brought against you.

I Lost my DMV Hearing, or I Never Requested a DMV Hearing, How Long Will my License be Suspended?

While a skilled attorney from Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm will use every ounce of skill and knowledge they possess to convince the administrative judge at your DMV hearing to set aside the suspension of your license, you simply cannot win them all. In that event, the suspension of your license will begin on the date the “finding of fact” is entered. The length of the suspension is based on the charge you are facing:

    (1) If you have been charged with a “simple” DUI, in violation of California Vehicle Code §23152, your license will be suspended for six (6) months from the date the administrative judge makes their decision.

    (2) If you have been charged with a DUI causing injury, in violation of California Vehicle Code 23153, your license will be suspended for one (1) year from the date of the decision.

    (3) If you have been charged with a second “simple” DUI within the span of ten (10) years, your license will be suspended for a period of two (2) years pursuant to California Vehicle Code §13352(a)(3) v

If you did not succeed in your DMV hearing, you may still have a second bite at the apple. In the event that any of the following occurs: (1) the Court finds that your BAC was under 0.08% at the time of the arrest; or (2) you are found not guilty of driving under the influence; or (3) if the District Attorney does not bring the charges against you, you will have one (1) year to request another DMV hearing to remove the suspended status of your license. It is important to have competent counsel representing you throughout the entire DUI process so that you have the best odds of keeping your license, as well as avoiding the consequence of a conviction of a first offense DUI.

What can my Attorney do to Help me if I am Charged with a First Offense DUI?

The importance of having skilled, and experienced, representation when faced with a charge of a first offense DUI cannot be understated. From the moment you retain an attorney from Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm, until the conclusion of your case, your attorney will be fighting for your rights in attempt to free you from the years of inconvenience a conviction would represent. Your attorney will build the strongest argument in favor of setting aside the suspension of your license in front of the administrative judge overseeing your DMV hearing. Your attorney will bring their years of practice to bear when negotiating with the Prosecutor, in an effort to convince them that the charges should either be dropped, or reduced. If your attorney does not succeed with the Prosecutor, they will present the most potent defense applicable to the facts of your case. Without delving too far into the nuts and bolts of the defenses your attorney can be present, the following represent common defenses: (1) lack of reasonable suspicion, (2) faulty equipment was utilized to measure your BAC, (3) lack of probable cause; and (4) external factors affected the results of the tests utilized to measure your BAC. For a more thorough analysis of the various defenses your attorney can present to the Court, please take the time to review our article on “DMV Hearings”, as many of those defenses are equally applicable in the criminal trial context.

If you are contemplating requesting a DMV hearing after you have been accused of a first offense DUI, contact us immediately at 424-285-5400 for a FREE consultation regarding the strength of your case, and the likelihood of success. 

i It is possible that the breathalyzer yielded a value of below 0.08%, and the officer still arrested you. The basis for this would be a subsection of California Vehicle Code §23152, which makes it a punishable offense to drive a vehicle while impaired. Thus, it is possible to be under the legal limit, and till impaired; this provides the arresting officer with the requisite “probable cause” to believe you have violated the law, and arrest you on those grounds. 

ii Technically speaking, the moment you were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, your license was immediately suspended. The hearing is an effort to convince the DMV that the automatic suspension is inappropriate; if you convince the administrative judge that suspension is inappropriate, they will “set aside” the automatic suspension.

iii Since footnote “ii” involves a BAC of under 0.08%, that scenario would not trigger the automatic suspension provision.

iv Even though the suspension of your license may be set aside, the suspension will go into effect as if you had been rearrested on the date a verdict, or plea bargain is entered, making you guilty of an offense involving alcohol, or drugs, and the operation of a motor vehicle.

v This is beyond the scope of this article, but it is important to be aware that subsequent DUIs are punished exponentially harsher than a first offense.