In certain situations, the DMV can suspend or revoke a driver’s license. For example, if you are convicted of DUI or another criminal offense and a judge has determined that you are not allowed to drive, you will have your driver’s license suspended for a period dictated by the applicable DUI law. However, the DMV also has the right to issue discretionary suspensions and revocations under certain conditions.
When the law allows the DMV to take discretionary action against a driver’s license, the driver has the right to an administrative hearing to fight the action. A discretionary action is any legal action the DMV may take against a driver but which it is not legally required to take. If the DMV issues any discretionary action against your driver’s license, you only have 10 days in which to request an administrative hearing. This leaves you very little time to prepare, and you may not know what to expect during this hearing.
Working with an experienced Riverside DUI defense attorney is the best way to approach any DMV administrative hearing. Your defense team will carefully review the details of your DUI charges and the circumstances of your arrest. They will also evaluate the DMV’s reasoning behind their discretionary action against your license. You can rely on the team at My SoCal Lawyers to answer your most important DUI questions and provide the support and guidance you need to approach your DMV administrative hearing with confidence and peace of mind.
Common Reasons for DMV Suspensions
While a DUI case will unfold in criminal court, the DMV has the authority to take discretionary actions against a driver’s license in some situations. Some of the most commonly cited reasons for DMV administrative suspensions of drivers’ licenses in California include:
- Driving without insurance. If you cause an accident and do not have auto insurance as state law requires, the DMV can suspend your driver’s license for four years. After completing the first year of your suspension, you can request an administrative hearing to have your license reinstated if you can provide proof of insurance to the DMV and maintain coverage for the subsequent three years.
- Failure to report an accident. California law requires drivers to report accidents that result in injury, death, or significant property damage. If you cause an accident and fail to report it, you could face an administrative suspension of your license and criminal charges for hitandrun.
- DUI conviction, which is the most common reason for administrative suspensions. A first conviction includes a six-month suspension of your driver’s license, and some drivers can petition for restricted licenses in specific cases. Subsequent DUI convictions will lead to longer suspension periods.
- Underage drinking and driving. California enforces a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under 21 who are caught driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In addition, the DMV will revoke a driver’s license for one year or until the underage driver turns 18, whichever is later.
- Refusal of a chemical test for DUI. California drivers must submit to chemical testing for DUI after a lawful arrest. While they may refuse preliminary alcohol screening during a traffic stop, they cannot refuse a chemical test after a lawful DUI arrest under California’s implied consent law. In addition, drivers on probation for previous DUI convictions and drivers under 21 may not refuse preliminary alcohol screenings and will face administrative DMV suspension if they do.
- Too many points on a license. Drivers incur infraction points on their licenses when they commit driving offenses. Too many points can lead to driving probation for one year, and this may include a six-month administrative suspension.
- Vandalism, which can lead to a driver’s license suspension of one year. If a teen is convicted of vandalism, they will need to wait an extra year before they can apply for a driver’s license.
- Failure to appear in court for a traffic ticket. Failure to report to the court or pay the associated fine on time can result in administrative suspension.
- Failure to pay child support. Any parent who fails to meet their child support obligation can face significant penalties, including loss of driving privileges.
If you have had your license suspended or revoked by the California DMV for DUI or some other reason, you need to determine whether you may have grounds to request an administrative hearing. An experienced Riverside DUI defense attorney is the best resource to consult when you are unsure how to approach a hearing.
My SoCal Lawyers has years of experience providing DUI defense representation to clients throughout the Riverside, CA, area. We know how the DMV handles administrative suspensions,license revocations, and associated hearings. If your administrative suspension relates to a DUI, My SoCal Lawyers can provide the guidance you need to prepare for your administrative hearing.
What Happens at a California DMV Hearing?
Once the DMV has taken a discretionary action against your driver’s license, you can submit a request for a hearing within 10 days. A driver safety hearing officer from the DMV will oversee the hearing and notify you of the legal grounds for the discretionary action in question during this hearing. The driver has the right to respond to the DMV’s listed grounds for their discretionary action, and they have the right to legal counsel during the hearing.
Drivers in administrative hearings may call witnesses, offer evidence, and provide their own testimony to convince the DMV to alter or revoke their decision. For example, if your license were suspended for DUI but you need to drive to and from work to support your family, and your family is entirely dependent on your income, you would need to prove that you can continue to drive safely with a restricted license so you can continue earning income for your household.
After the hearing is over, the driver has the right to request the DMV’s decision in writing. If the DMV approves the driver’s request, they will notify the driver of the adjustments they intend to make to their decision. If the request is denied, the DMV’s response will explain why they denied the driver’s request. The driver then has the right to file for administrative review of the DMV’s decision or have the Superior Court review the decision.
How Do I Win a California DMV Hearing?
A DMV administrative hearing is not a court case, but you do have the right to legal representation at your hearing. This is perhaps the most critical factor for succeeding with your case. Your attorney can carefully review the details of your suspension or license revocation and help you determine the best available arguments against the DMV’s determination.
If you can make a compelling case that you deserve to have your license reinstated, the DMV may grant your request and provide you with a restricted license. However, it’s important to remember that while you might succeed in having your suspension or revocation reversed, you will likely face certain restrictions that you must follow carefully. For example, if you violate any conditional terms the DMV offers to have your license reinstated, they will likely suspend it or revoke it again and refuse to provide you the opportunity for another hearing.
Securing a positive outcome to your administrative hearing will also be more difficult if you have a questionable driving record or a history of multiple DUI convictions or traffic violations. Ultimately, the best way to approach any administrative DMV hearing is to secure legal counsel you can trust.
The team at My SoCal Lawyers understands how frustrating it can be to have your driver’s license suspended or revoked and the disruption this can cause to your life. We have represented many past clients in administrative DMV hearings related to DUI and can provide the guidance and support you need for your hearing. If you are ready to learn how a Riverside DUI defense attorney can assist you in a DMV administrative hearing, contact My SoCal Lawyers today to schedule a consultation with our team.