Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Importance of a DMV Hearing after a DUI Arrest

When you are arrested for an Orange County DUI, it is critically important that you (or hopefully your Orange County DUI Lawyer) request an Administrative Per Se or APS hearing within 10 days of your arrest. At an APS hearing, the DMV will decide whether or not to suspend your driving privileges based on evidence received from the arresting agency. After the 10 days have passed, in almost all instances, you forgo your right to a DMV hearing. It is also important to note that a DMV hearing is independent of a court trial or proceeding, thus a Public Defender (assuming you qualify) will be of little help if you value your driving privileges since they will not appear on your behalf at the DMV hearing.

So what happens at an APS hearing and what's so important about it. At an APS hearing, a DMV employee will decide whether the department has enough evidence to suspend or revoke a persons driving privileges. Specifically, the DMV will determine the following:

1) Did the peace officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation of Vehicle Code Section 23140 (DUI under 21 years age with BAC > 0.05%), 23152 (regular DUI), or 23153 (DUI with injury)?
2) Were you placed under lawful arrest?
3) Were you driving a motor vehicle when you had 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in your blood?

If the evidence proves all of the elements above, then the DMV will suspend the persons license for 4 months, assuming the individual has no prior DUI violations within a 10 year period. After serving a "hard suspension" of 30 days, an individual is eligible to receive a "restricted" license, enabling the person to drive to/from home and work and an approved alcohol program.

There are several important reasons to schedule an APS hearing. First, the driver or his attorney can access to "discovery" (evidence against you), much earlier than when the district attorney will provide it (in most instances). This allows an DUI attorney to fully examine the evidence prior to your arraignment at the criminal phase of the proceedings (which has several advantages in addition to early access). Second, your DUI Lawyer will be able to subpoena the arresting officer to the hearing. For a fee generally hovering around $250, the police officer will be required to attend the APS hearing and will go on the record concerning the events surrounding your arrest. This is important chiefly because if you decide to take your matter to trial, then your attorney will be able to "impeach" or discredit the officer's testimony at trial by comparing his statements he made at the APS hearing to those on the witness stand at trial. Third, and most obviously, you want to do all you can to preserve your privilege to operate a motor vehicle. If you do not request an APS hearing, then the DMV will automatically suspend your license after 30 days (when you're arrested on suspicion of DUI, the officer will hand you a "temporary license" good for 30 days). Last, by requesting the APS hearing, the DMV will "stay the suspension" of your driver's license following the results of your APS hearing. Depending on which Driver Safety Branch has jurisdiction over your matter, your APS hearing might not occur for 2-3 months, giving you valuable time to sort out your affairs before a potential license suspension.

If you have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, time is critical as has been shown above. Contact an Orange County DUI Lawyer at 949-440-3240 to see how he can help you avoid the serious consequences of a DUI.

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