Written by attorney George Fredrick Mueller

How to Effectively Handle DUI Administrative License Suspension Actions at the California DMV

The California DUI / DMV hearing for a possible license suspension is like a mini-DUI trial without a jury, but with much different California DMV rules, California DMV laws and California DMV procedures. The California DUI / DMV hearing is presided over by a Driver Safety Officer (DMV hearing officer) rather than a real judge, an employee of the DMV not trained in law who acts as both prosecutor and judge. As unfair as it is, she or he can legally object to your evidence, rule on her or his own objection, dually engage your California DUI / DMV lawyer, and admit or not admit either party's evidence.

The California Driver Safety Officer offers evidence in the form of documents and/or witnesses. The Driver Safety Officer offers the California drunk driving / DUI police report, DMV records, California DUI alcohol reports and the important California DUI officer's sworn statement entitled a "DS 367." With no Fifth Amendment right at the hearing, your California DUI / DMV attorney usually will not want you to be present at the hearing since the Driver Safety Officer can call you as a witness and force you to testify against yourself if you ill-advisedly appear.

The California DMV Driver Safety Officer's decision will usually be mailed a few days or even weeks after the hearing. A California DMV / DMV suspension can be set aside or sustained. If the California DMV suspension is sustained, the decision can be appealed to the DMV in Sacramento and/or to the California Superior court by filing a California DMV petition for writ of mandamus.

A California DUI lawyer's defenses at an APS hearing are specialized and technical, more so than in criminal court. Frequent California DUI / DMV proof problems - as well as legal, procedural and bureaucratic obstacles - are possible grounds for setting aside the suspension.

Because of the peculiar nature of California DUI / DMV hearings and the absence of an independent California DUI judge to offer some protection, you are strongly advised not to try to represent yourself. Because these are not California DUI criminal proceedings, California County public defenders are unavailable.

Your California DUI / DMV attorney has just 10 CALENDAR DAYS after the DUI arrest to call the California DMV Driver Safety Office to timely demand a hearing. You waive your right to a hearing after the 10 day deadline is up.

The California DMV may not be able to schedule a hearing before your 30-day temporary license expires. Your California DUI / DMV lawyer will request a Notice of Stay of the 30-day temporary license until a California DMV hearing is provided and a San Diego DMV decision is actually rendered.

Additional resources provided by the author

San Diego Driver Safety Office, 9174 Sky Park Avenue, Suite 200, San Diego (858/627-3901 or fax 858/627-3925).

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