After a driver is arrested for DUI and taken to the police station, they will receive a DMV Notice of Suspension. This suspension will take effect in 30 days unless you or your attorney request an administrative hearing.
Along with the suspension will be a form from the DMV called an “Officer’s Statement -Admin Per Se”, filled out by the arresting officer and describing the facts of the case regarding the suspension. This is signed by the officer under oath and forwarded directly to the department.
Then, the arrestee has 10 days to contact a local DMV office of Driver Safety to request a license suspension hearing. It is imperative that a hearing is requested within this strict 10-day window, or the right to a hearing is permanently lost and the suspension will automatically take effect 30 days from the arrest date.
Vehicle Code § 13558(d) and (e) state that your DUI lawyer can get a stay of the suspension if the request for a hearing was made within 10 days of the notice, or if the requested hearing cannot be scheduled before the thirty-day temporary license expires. Note: the hearing is totally separate from the criminal court proceedings; it is common to win one proceeding and lose the other.
Prior to the hearing taking place, the DMV will perform an internal administrative review on the case to verify that the evidence complies with the requirements for an administrative suspension. Once this review is complete, and the request for a hearing is made by the driver’s lawyer, a hearing date is scheduled.
The hearing will occur at a venue close to where the initial arrest took place. Unless both parties agree on a different location, the hearing is typically located at one of the DMV Driver Safety field offices; in Orange County, the office is in the City of Orange. Note: Although the driver is not charged for this hearing, they must pay fees if their attorney decides to subpoena the officer because the police department involved will charge a fee for the officer to appear.
It may appear odd and unjust, but the DMV hearing officers function as both prosecutor and judge. They conduct the hearing, direct-examine any department witnesses, and cross-examine the DUI client (if they appear) and defense witnesses — and then decide who wins! Note: the driver is not required to appear at the hearing, but if they do, unlike in a criminal trial, they could be called by the hearing officer and examined.
The individual should absolutely retain a law firm within the 10-day period that has expertise in the DUI defense field and is experienced with the relevant administrative laws and procedures. Note: Many incompetent or low-cost lawyers will represent their clients at the DMV hearing by telephone, whereas a competent DUI defense lawyer will personally appear at the hearing to handle the examination, objections and arguments.