More often than you can imagine, drivers in Los Angeles find themselves on the wrong side of the law for criminal offenses related to driving. The Department of Motor Vehicles, therefore, organizes special hearings termed DMV hearings to deal with driving-related cases. The Law Offices of Jeff Voll specializes in criminal defenses, operating in Los Angeles, California. We are equipped with legal expertise that is very useful for clients seeking representation in DMV hearings.
The Nature of California DMV Hearings
DMV hearings are a more relaxed setting, without all the legal procedures followed in a court. The hearings are often conducted in an office and do not require the mandatory presence of the driver in question. This means that phone calls are a suitable substitute where it may be difficult or impossible to appear in person. The DMVs are conducted by specific hearing officers, who are not acquainted with any professional legal studies or legal experience.
A driver may choose to represent himself in the DMV hearings since there are no mandatory provisions that require an attorney by his side. However, despite the relaxed nature of the DMV hearing, it is often difficult and complicated to try and resolve your case without an attorney's help. The complexity arises from the fact that the driver is required to be well versed with crucial codes of law, which include but are not limited to the Government Code, the California Vehicle Code and the Evidence code as well. Typically, it is difficult to have express knowledge in those provisions. If you are keen on winning a DMV hearing and retaining your driving privileges, it is advisable to seek an attorney's help, whose specialization is in these kinds of hearings.
During the hearings, the driver is allowed to defend himself through various means. He or she may introduce evidence that serves to prove his innocence. Besides, a driver may rebut all accusations made against him, provided he does so in a lawful manner that also seeks to establish that he is innocent. Witnesses are also allowed in DMV hearings, which may include the passengers present, pedestrians who were around during the time of arrest, or even the officer in charge of arresting the driver himself. They all play a role in trying to prove the driver's innocence or at least serve as a mitigating factor when penalties are issued.
DMV Hearings for DUI Cases
Driving under the influence of any drug is a grave offense and attracts severe consequences under the law in California. The mandatory Administrative Per Se laws are an example of how seriously the law fights against DUIs. They make provisions for the crime of driving under the influence, which is established if a driver is found to operate a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08% or more. A driver can be arrested if he meets these conditions. An officer also has a right to arrest any driver merely on suspicion of having reached the minimum alcohol content. Therefore, it seems like a suspected driver is fixed against all the odds when caught driving under the influence. The harsh condition extends to all other known drugs that are abused. Conditions are harsh to ensure that the cases reduce significantly, as numerous reports prove that the most significant percentage of road accidents occur as a result of driving under the influence.
Upon arrest with a DUI charge, a driver has ten days to arrange for a DMV hearing, by contacting a Driver Safety office. Failure to follow this procedure usually results in the suspension of the driver's license after 30 days have passed without any further action. If a report is made, the process of hearings begins. In a DMV hearing, it is up to the driver in question to disprove the assumption that his BAC was at 0.08% or above at the time of the arrest. Despite it being difficult to do so, there are several defenses that he can pull with the help of a lawyer. They may vary per the surrounding circumstances leading to arrest.
DMV Hearing Finds Me Guilty of a DUI Charge, What Next?
The law will rarely let a driver go completely free for a DUI charge. It, therefore, imposes some orders to the offending driver, which may be punitive or deterrent depending on the severity of the offense. DUI penalties result in the suspension of a driver's license, and the duration of suspension may also vary.
Firstly, should a driver refuse to participate in breath tests and/or blood tests, he will have his license suspended for a year. This act of refusing to cooperate does not help his case at all, because the tests may be the only way for the traffic officer to affirm innocence on the driver's part. Drivers are therefore advised to follow regulations and undertake the tests to avoid the harsh penalty.
In the case of commercial drivers, the California Vehicle Code section 153000 creates a provision for the suspension of a commercial driver in violation of laws against DUIs for a year. It covers drivers of class A and B vehicles. This may hurt a commercial driver's career severely, as it is the presumed primary source of income. However, the law is stringent on enforcing the suspension because commercial drivers are assumed to be professionals in their fields. A rookie mistake like driving under the influence is therefore highly discouraged. Moreover, a driver's record is severely damaged by a DUI charge, as the record holds for 55 years. Thus, drivers falling under this category should practice extra caution.
For first time offenders, the DMV may order a suspension of a license for 6-10 months. Luckily, there are available changes after a month of suspension, where the driver can seek a reduction of suspension to restriction. Application for restriction orders comes with conditions, the main one being that a driver must enroll in a DUI school. The goal is reform in this case. There is also a reinstatement fee to be paid, amounting anywhere from $120. The California Senate Bill 1046, however, allows offenders to drive without limitations, as long as they install an IDD in their car, a device that keeps them under close surveillance from the DMV.
DMV Hearings on Zero Tolerance
The doctrine of zero tolerance is closely related to DUIs and their prevention. It prohibits anyone who is under 21 years from driving with any detectable alcohol concentration. Even a minimum of 0.01% is guaranteed to land a driver under 21 years in trouble. Similarly, it is an offense for drivers currently on DUI probation to drive having consumed alcohol that is detectable.
If caught under these circumstances, it is often challenging for drivers to prove their innocence, as the margin of excusatory defenses is thin. The minimum requirements are easily met, and the officer in charge of arrest can quickly establish a case against the driver. The penalty involved in the suspension of a license, but in severe cases, may lead to complete license revocation. The most suitable solution may rest on only accepting charges brought against you, and seeking reduction of penalties later. However, in some cases, your lawyer may be able to establish a strong defense for you, that ultimately wins your case.
DMV Hearings for Accidents Causing Death
Unfortunately, twists in life may bring about the most grievous circumstances. Death is one of the most severe outcomes that may come with driving, and it is usually up to a driver to uphold personal as well as other people's road's safety. Despite most fatal accidents being a result of innocent unpremeditated actions, negligence often plays a part in this ordeal.
The DMV is responsible for undertaking any investigations required surrounding the death of a person from car accidents. In a typical hearing, a driver is availed with a chance to defend his actions, with the help of an attorney, if so required. However, several factors may act against the driver's favor. One of them is a driver's track record. As a requirement of law, offending drivers accumulate violation points, which may add up to discredit them. For example, a California DMV will suspend a license that has accumulated over four points within a year. The points are attributed to reckless driving and dangerous practices on the road like speeding and causing fatal accidents. The hearing officer considers all this information in determining a driver's penalty, which often amounts to the revocation of the license.
DMV Hearing Appeals
The pursuit of appeals can be a costly process, but it is allowed. Before starting, it is crucial to keep in mind that the procedures are stringent time guidelines, and failure to meet application deadlines could frustrate the entire process. The appeals must be forwarded through the writ of mandamus/mandate that requires courts to review a decision made. Acquiring the warrants is very expensive, with prices ranging anywhere from $ 2,500. If a client rightfully feels that a decision was unfairly or wrongfully made, he may proceed with his appeal. However, it is only logical to apply cost-benefit analysis and chase after what is truly worthy.
Do DMV Orders Apply If I Live in a Different State?
The law of California works under the provisions of the Drivers License Compact statute, which uniformly applies to all states in the country, except for the states of Georgia, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Massachusetts. This means that in any other state, a DMV order acquired in Los Angeles California is enforceable, and your license may be suspended or revoked in whichever state you live. It is helpful to seek advice from an attorney based in California in your DMV hearing, as he or she is well versed with the local statutes and regulations applicable in your case.
Contact a DUI Attorney Specializing in DMV Hearings Near Me
Driving can often be an unpredictable task, that may yield many undesired and unforeseen outcomes. If you require professional legal representation and expert advice on DMV hearings in Los Angeles, California feel free to contact the Law Offices of Jeff Voll at 323-467-6400. We look forward to having you on our team.