In 1990, California adopted a law requiring the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to immediately suspend or revoke the driving privilege of any person arrested for an alcohol-related charge of driving under the influence (DUI). This means the moment a police officer places a driver in handcuffs, that person’s driving privilege is immediately suspended. The law permitting the immediate suspension or revocation of a person’s driving privilege for DUI is known as the Administrative Per Se (APS) driver suspension law.
The most obvious question becomes, “How can a government entity take away my driver license without Due Process?” When the California Legislature approved the APS Law, it built in a safeguard allowing drivers the opportunity to contest, and in some instances defeat, the intended suspension or revocation of their driver license. The Administrative Per Se Law mandates that a law enforcement officer seize a person’s driver license at the time of arrest, however, that same law mandates that the officer provide the arrested driver with written notification of their right to contest the suspension of their driver license. Whether the affected driver is a California resident or not, all drivers are subject to the provisions of the Administrative Per Se law and therefore, ALL drivers may have their driving privilege suspended or revoke by the California DMV, regardless of where they reside.
The process by which an accused driver fights the suspension of their driver license is known as an Administrative Per Se Hearing, commonly referred to as a DUI Hearing. The Administrative Per Se Hearing is a full-blown, evidentiary process that is run similar to a “mini-trial.” Evidence is presented, objections are made, witnesses may testify, and legal arguments are filed. Make no mistake, the APS Hearing is a complex legal proceeding and the DMV will do little or nothing to assist you. If you are planning for an Administrative Per Se/DUI Hearing following a DUI arrest, your best opportunity for victory comes by selecting a DMV Defense Expert from California Drivers Advocates. We will schedule, prepare, and argue at your hearing. Don’t try this on your own; we’re ready to help.
The person who sits in judgement of a driver at an Administrative Per Se Hearing is referred to as a DMV “Hearing Officer.” In the world of the DMV, the Hearing Officer holds the same power as a Superior Court Judge. Make no mistake, these people are not judges, commissioners, or attorneys. The DMV Hearing Officer is nothing more than a DMV employee who has been trained by the DMV to conduct these complex evidentiary Hearings.
More startling is that California Law permits the Hearing Officer to act as judge, prosecutor, jury, and executioner. That’s right. This ill trained and poorly experienced, government employee holds complete sway over the entire case. California is the only state in the Union which permits this abuse of the law. If you are called into a similar hearing in any other state, you will find yourself sitting in front of a truly independent Administrative Law Judge. Not in California.
In California, you are judged by a DMV employee who has attended a few seminars and who is subject to reassignment, demotion, or termination if they rule in favor of drivers too often. Essentially, their job is to “sustain” the suspension of a person’s driver license and they aggressively resist attempts to overturn that suspension.
Generally, the Hearing Officers for the California Department of Motor Vehicles are good people who seek to do the right thing, however, the Hearing Officers DO NOT work independent of their managers. The Administrative Per Se Hearing is difficult to begin with, but the pressures placed upon a DMV Hearing Officer to sustain the suspension of a person’s driver license make the process even more complicated.
Everything the DMV does is “time sensitive” and that forces a California Driver to act quickly or suffer the automatic suspension/revocation of their driving privilege.
Once a person is arrested for DUI, California Law mandates that the driver contact the Department within the first 10 “calendar” days following the arrest. That is 10 actual, calendar days…..Weekends and Holidays are all considered part of that 10-day window of opportunity.
Once the driver has made appropriate contact with the DMV, an Administrative Per Se (APS)/DUI Hearing must be convened at a location determined by the DMV as close as practical to the location where the DUI arrest occurred. Also, California Vehicle Code (CVC) section 13558 mandates that an Administrative Per Se hearing be held, and a decision be reached and communicated to the Licensee, before the date of any suspension. If the DMV cannot accommodate this, they must “stay” the suspension until such hearing and decision can be made. Essentially this means the suspension of your license is stopped and held in suspense until the outcome of the Administrative Per Se/DUI Hearing.
The general policy of the California Department of Motor Vehicles is to conduct APS Hearings and render final decisions as soon as possible following a person’s arrest for DUI. Although there is clear legal precedent for granting continuances of a scheduled hearing, DMV Hearing Officers are instructed to deny requests for continuance whenever possible. Although the DMV will routinely deny a driver’s reasonable request for a continuance, the department will not hesitate to grant themselves a continuance in an instant. The process is not fairly balanced and it requires that a driver be represented by a DMV Expert who knows how to manipulate the DMV’s position. You should not attempt to challenge this process alone. It is simply too complicated to attempt without guidance.
Once the Administrative Per Se/DUI Hearing has been scheduled and the suspension action has been “stayed,” the driver then must begin the process of preparing his or her defense. This requires a commanding knowledge of the California Vehicle Code, the California Evidence Code, the California Code of Regulations, the California Code of Procedure, California Administrative Law and the DMV process. From the time of arrest to the time of final decision, the Administrative Per Se process takes 60-90 days to complete. It is nearly impossible for the average California driver to present an intelligent, relevant, and admissible argument without assistance. Call California Drivers Advocates today, we’ve been handling Administrative Per Se/DUI Hearings with the California DMV for years. We can get you through this and give you the best opportunity to prevent the suspension of your driver license.
We’re Ready to Begin Fighting for You Now!
Once you have been released following your DUI arrest, it is perfectly reasonable to be frightened and to want to bury your head in the sand. Unfortunately, time is not on your side. California Administrative Per Se Law requires that an accused driver make initial contact with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of their arrest. Trust me, 10 days goes by in a flash and if you don’t act quickly enough, your driving privilege will be suspended without a fight. Don’t let the DMV strip you of one of your most precious property rights. Fight back!
At California Drivers Advocates, we have been conducting Administrative Per Se/DUI Hearings for many years. We are ready to take the burden off of you. We’re ready to step forward and immediately begin the process of protecting your driving privilege. Don’t hesitate. Call us now, we’re here for you.
More about Administrative Per Se (DUI) Hearings at the California DMV