DMV Victory – “Refusal” Hearing – El Segundo Driver Safety Office

Case History: California Drivers Advocates was hired to represent a client whose driver license was in jeopardy of being completely revoked for one year following a DUI arrest by a CHP Officer in the unincorporated area of South Los Angeles.  Our 30 year old client was just leaving a restaurant where she had been making plans to celebrate her birthday.

The CHP Officer’s report indicated that as she was pulling out of the restaurant parking lot, our client failed to yield to the officer’s patrol vehicle, causing him to take evasive action to avoid a collision.  Once the officer had stopped our client, he arrested her for DUI and took her to the station for a breath test.

The officer then alleged that our client had refused a chemical test because she was unable to put enough air into the breath device.  Because the officer’s claim was that our client had refused all chemical testing, he wrote his arrest report to indicate a chemical test refusal, which is huge problem in the eyes of the DMV.

Our client is employed by the State of California in a position requiring extensive driving.  The loss of her driver license for an extended period would spell disaster for her employment.

 DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position was crystal clear. Under California Administrative Law and the “Official Duty Presumption” in the Evidence Code, the DMV was permitted to presume that our client was guilty of all charges.  We entered the hearing facing a DMV hearing officer who absolutely believed that our client was lawfully stopped, was lawfully arrested, and had refused to submit to a Chemical Test.  The hearing officer was prepared to completely revoke our client’s driving privilege for one-year solely based upon the information in the arresting officer’s report.


Our Defense: When the client retained us, we immediately contacted the El Segundo Driver Safety Office to schedule her “Refusal” hearing.  We also were awarded an immediate “Stay of Suspension” which effectively stopped the revocation of our client’s driving privilege pending the outcome of the hearing.  This permitted her to continue lawfully driving over the next 6 months while we investigated and prepared for her hearing.

Going into the case, we understood that the DMV would be interested in four primary issues:

  • Was our Client lawfully stopped?
  • Was our Client lawfully arrested?
  • Was our Client properly advised of the requirement to submit to a chemical test?
  • Did our Client refuse to submit to a chemical test?

The CHP Officer’s report indicated that our client had repeatedly attempted to blow into the breath device, but that the air volume was insufficient to register a successful sample.  After repeatedly failing to collect a measurable sample, the officer became frustrated, threw up his hands and announced, “That’s it……. That’s a refusal.”   Fortunately, he was wrong.  It was not a refusal.

The one and only secret to victory in this case came down to investigation.  By issuing subpoenas for a score of evidentiary items, we were able to prove that our client had not “cut-off” the patrol car and we were able to also prove that the officer did not properly advise our client of her option to submit to a blood test after the breath tests failed.

The Outcome: At the hearing, we introduced several items of Affirmative Evidence and we had taken so much time to prepare our client for testimony that she was deemed credible and honest.  We were completely prepared and conducted an extensive cross-examination of the arresting officer. At the conclusion of the “Refusal” Hearing, the hearing officer took the unusual step of announcing that the DMV had failed to establish its Prima Facia case and ordered an immediate “Set Aside” of the license revocation.

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Call CDA Today.  Let us put you on the road to victory! The DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates include former police officers, DMV Hearing Officers, Investigators and Scientists.  The only way we won this case was through attention to detail, a thorough investigation and complete preparation.

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About the Author:

Rob Collier
Mr. Collier served with distinction as a Law Enforcement Specialist with the United States Air Force and received an honorable discharge. He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Security Police Academy and the United States Army Police Investigators School. While stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, Mr. Collier was one of the first Security Police Specialists to provide “close‐in” security for Space Shuttle Missions when that program was new. Mr. Collier is a Distinguished Graduate of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Academy (Class 228) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Weapons and Tactics School (SWAT). He received specialized training in basic accident investigation and determining speed from skids at the San Bernardino Sheriff Academy. For nearly 15 years, Mr. Collier was the Operations Officer for one of the most prominent specialty DUI law firms in the country. Reporting directly to that firm’s owner, Mr. Collier directed the day to day operations of DUI attorneys, investigators, expert witnesses and support staff. He developed the firm’s “white glove” policy of client care that is now the hallmark of our company. He has been involved in the preparation, investigation, and presentation of literally thousands of DMV administrative hearings throughout Southern California. Receiving hands on training from defense attorneys, retired DMV hearing officers, and some of the best scientific experts in the field, Mr. Collier possesses a unique level of experience; making him a true expert in the field of Administrative Advocacy. Mr. Collier is our Chief Advocate and available to represent clients in all categories of DMV hearings in California. If your case is assigned to one of our other professional advocates, Mr. Collier will personally review and supervise each case. He is accessible to each and every one of our clients.