Phillips Law Offices DUI Defense

DUI, DMV and Driver's License Issues

When a California driver is arrested for DUI, his or her driver's license is immediately confiscated and they are given a temporary license valid for 30 days. This confiscation starts a civil process which is separate from the criminal charges. It is critical that, in California, the driver contacts the DMV within 10 days of the arrest to request a hearing. Failure to do so will result in an automatic suspension of the driver's license. Although the DMV process is somewhat similar to the criminal process, it is an extremely complex area of the law with its own rules and regulations. It is even more complicated for individuals with out-of-state drivers licenses or who have a commercial truck driving license.

Although there are perhaps lots of lawyers who will accept a DUI case, many have little knowledge about license suspension issues. For many individuals, avoiding loss of a driver's license is the most important goal. We work closely with our clients to get them through the confusing and sometimes overwhelming DMV process. For individuals who live out of state and are charged with a DUI in California, the license suspension process can be especially complicated. We have successfully helped many of out of state residents maintain their license.

DMV and License Suspension Issues

This information on this page applies to normal Class C license. If you have another class license or special permit additional rules will apply. Please consult with an experienced DUI Attorney.

In most DUI arrest your license to drive is immediately confiscated (unless you have an out-of-state license) and you are given a pink sheet of paper.

This paper serves as a formal notice of an immediate suspension, a temporary license good for 30 days and a brief explanation of the laws and procedures involved. IMPORTANT: you only have 10 days from your arrest to call the Department of Motor Vehicles to schedule a hearing to contest the suspension. On the 11th calendar day the DMV will refuse to provide a hearing and the suspension (at least 4 months) will automatically take effect in 30 days.

The basis for this suspension is California's "implied consent" laws. These laws essentially say that any person driving in California is "presumed" to imply consent to chemical testing if he or she is suspected of drunk driving. (See Implied Consent Tab)

It is always recommended that you, or the attorney you hire, immediately contact the DMV to request a hearing. There is a good chance of having the suspension thrown out. The worst thing that can happen is that the same suspension will simply take effect, but later than 30 days.

In most cases the DMV will not be able to actually conduct the hearing within 30 days of the date of your arrest. This is simply due to their work load. Because of this, you or your attorney should request another temporary license (to be sent to you in the mail). This new temporary license will be valid up to about 15 days past the date that you and the DMV have selected as the date for the hearing.

The hearing you request will typically be set about 1-2 months out. Please note that the temporary license they send you will NOT have a picture on it. If you need a picture identification then you will need to apply at the DMV for an identification card or a passport. If you were arrested for a first offense and you lose this hearing or fail to request a hearing, your license will be suspended for 4 months which can be reduced to 1 month followed By 5 months of work restriction if you provide proof of enrollment in a DUI school and an "SR-22."

If your case involves a "refusal" (you refused to take a breath or blood test at the time of your arrest) your suspension will be for 1 year with no work restriction allowed. If your DUI case is a 2nd offense, it will usually result in a 1-year suspension.

The hearing itself is conducted by a DMV employee who will not only act as the "judge" but also as the "jury." The hearing is conducted like a mini trial, but without jury and with unique rules. Testimony can be elicited by both sides, although the hearing officer usually only produces documents, such as police reports, laboratory reports and the officer's statement. Please note that because there is no Fifth Amendment right at this hearing, you usually should not attend or participate at the hearing since you could be called as a witness by the hearing officer. A decision is usually not rendered until days or even weeks after the hearing.

Because of the technical nature of these hearings, it is recommended that you not attempt to represent yourself and, because these hearings are not criminal in nature, public defenders are unavailable to help. As a result, there are only two people you can conduct this hearing for you - you or an attorney you hire.

For over 25 years, the Phillips Law Offices have successfully helped clients navigate the confusing and changing DMV license suspension actions. We represent clients every step of the way, from scheduling hearings and representation at the DMV hearing, to DMV appeals and writs. We also advise clients of the best steps to take obtain a restricted license and become re-licensed.  While some attorneys my wait before charges are filed to begin working on a case, successful defense of DMV suspensions requires immediate investigation. For many of our clients, the potential impact of the loss of a driver's license is the most significant consequence of the arrest. As a result, we aggressively defend DMV suspensions. We invite you to call us to discuss any questions you may have about the effect a DUI arrest has on your driver's license. We also invite you to call us to discuss any questions you may have about license suspensions at 530-265-0186