A DUI arrest is a stressful event for many reasons, one of which is that it triggers two separate legal proceedings: a case in criminal court and an administrative hearing with the DMV for the suspension of your license. Upon arrest, the officer will take away your driver’s license. Unless you can show that there is no basis for doing so, the DMV will suspend or revoke your license.1

Proving you should be able to keep your license can be difficult, but it can be done.

Five Crucial Steps to Keeping Your License

1.      Choose an Experienced Lawyer

DUI DMV Hearing
Have you been summoned for a DMV hearing?

Most people are rarely happy to deal with the DMV under normal circumstances, a feeling that is made worse by the prospect of losing one’s driving privilege. That is why it is vital that you contact an experienced California DUI defense lawyer immediately so that the attorney can demand an Admin Per Se hearing from the DMV.

This request must be made within 10 days of your arrest to protect your right to a hearing. This will allow you to keep your license pending the outcome of your DMV hearing. Otherwise, the DMV will consider you to have waived your right, and will suspend your driving privilege for four months.2

Unlike the criminal process, the DMV hearing is a civil matter, run by the Office of Driver Safety, and administered by a hearing officer. Selecting an attorney who understands the differences between the two processes and the types of arguments and evidence that will sway the DMV officer is crucial to winning your hearing.

2.      Understand the Issues

The DMV will decide your case only on the following issues, depending upon whether you took or refused a chemical test:

If you took a blood or breath test, the issues will be:

(i)                 Whether the arresting officer had reasonable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence;

(ii)               Whether the arrest was lawful, and;

(iii)             Whether your BAC was .08 or higher at the time of driving.

If you refused a blood or breath test, the last issue is replaced by two different questions:

(i)                 Whether you were told that if you refused to submit to or failed to complete a test of your blood or breath, your driving privilege would be suspended for one year or revoked for two or three years, and;

(ii)               Whether you refused to submit to or failed to complete a blood or breath test after being requested to do so by a peace officer.

To keep your license, you must successfully refute at least one of these issues. An attorney who has experience with DMV hearings can guide you through the wide range of available defenses that will help you during this complicated process.

3.      Write Down What You Remember about the Stop

As soon as possible after your arrest, you should write down what happened. Try to recall why you were stopped, what the officer said and did, and what was happening just before you were stopped. Giving your attorney an accurate account of what happened will help your attorney build your defense.

4.      Prepare for Your Court Case

If you are found not guilty in court of the DUI charge, and had previously lost your DMV hearing, you will then have the right to use the court’s decision to force the DMV to review your suspension at a new hearing and potentially reinstate your license. That is why being prepared for your court case is such an important step in prevailing over the DMV and keeping your license.

5.      Know Your Alternatives

While it is possible to win a DMV hearing, it is important to be ready for an unfavorable outcome. If your suspension is upheld, you will lose your driving privileges for a minimum of 30 days, but you may be able to request a restricted non-commercial license after the 30-day suspension if you show proof of enrollment in a DUI treatment program, file proof of insurance and pay a $125 reissue fee. This will allow you to drive to and from the DUI treatment program and/or to, from, and during work.

Call the DUI Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

If you are facing a DMV hearing or you were arrested for DUI, you need to speak with an experienced DUI defense immediately to find out your next step. At Wallin & Klarich, we have over 30 years of experience successfully defending our clients in DUI cases. Our team of experienced attorneys can help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices located near in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our skilled DUI attorneys are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide you with the personal attention you deserve.

Call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.


1. http://dui.drivinglaws.org/resources/resources/dui-laws-state/california-dui-things-expect.htm

2. http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/driversafety/dsadminvscriminal.htm – diff

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