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The Anatomy of a DMV Hearing Related to a California DUI

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Apr 11, 2022

DMV hearings go hand in hand if you're arrested for a DUI under California Vehicle Code 23152 VC in Los Angeles.  The DMV, the Department of Motor Vehicles, basically controls the person's driver's license, so they're going to be the enforcement arm of the courts as it relates to the person's license.

So, when you go to criminal court, the judges very rarely get involved with anything with your license.  They may say that you have to comply with whatever the DMV orders, but they typically don't start suspending people's driver's licenses because they allow the DMV to do that.

Let's look at and think about what happens in a DMV hearing.  I thought it might be an excellent idea to take a peek into the anatomy of the hearing. First off, when somebody hires us, we call the Department of Motor Vehicles up in my law office.

There's an attorney line, and we let them know that we're the attorneys on the case, and then we ask for a DMV hearing date, and we ask for a stay on any suspension that the DMV might be thinking about putting against our client until we get the hearing. As long as we do that within ten days, the DMV will eventually give us a hearing date, and the client will be able to drive while they wait for the hearing date to occur.

DMV Hearing Over the Phone

On the day of the hearing date, typically, we call in.  You can also appear in person if you somehow think that will be advantageous to your client based on the facts and circumstances surrounding their DUI.  Otherwise, we do it over the phone, and basically, what we're going through is through their DMV hearing officer, who will put on the evidence for the department.

DMV Hearing Lawyer in Los Angeles

They will start first.  They will put in the police report, and any other documentation they think is relevant to the case.  They let the defense attorney make an opening statement.  They let the defense put on any evidence and then let the defense do a closing argument.

It is a bit of a kangaroo court in the sense that the hearing officer who is putting on all the evidence is also the same person who is going to rule on any objections and is going to be the one who decides whether or not the driver's license is suspended or not.  That is a weird thing that the hearing officer is putting on several hats;

  • they're operating as the prosecutor in the hearing, and
  • they're operating as judges in deciding on rulings of any objections and what evidence comes in, and
  • finally, whether or not your license is suspended.

Calling the Arresting Police Office and Witnesses

Another thing that will happen at these hearings is the DMV; if they believe it's a close call and the police report doesn't cover everything, they will call the police officer as a witness. The police officer will either be there in person or get the police officer on the phone.

Los Angeles DUI Lawyer

They put in the police report.  They ask the officer questions about the police report, and then, of course, the defense attorney gets an opportunity to ask questions of the police officer. The defense can also call witnesses.  The defense can call their client.  Often, the hearing officers will ask at the beginning of the hearing if counsel will be calling their client as a witness.

If you call your client and you think that's relevant, you put the client's testimony in; then, of course, the DMV hearing officer is entitled to ask questions of your client, as well.  That's maybe one of the reasons attorneys don't always put their client's on because they don't want anybody asking questions of them that could incriminate them.

We could also call other witnesses.  If you have an eyewitness, you can call that person.  You can call an expert.  Maybe your client blew close to the .08; you want to call an expert to show that you didn't think they were a .08 or greater, so their license shouldn't be taken. Either side can call whatever witnesses they deem appropriate.  Each side gets an opportunity to ask questions of that witness.

Rendering a Decision by Mail

Once all the evidence is put on, now we turn to arguments and when arguments are done, typically what the hearing officer is going to say just about every time, okay, thank you very much, Mr. Hedding.  We will let you and your client know our decision via mail.

In my experience, you're usually going to get that decision in a few days.  The only time I see it going past a few days, in my opinion, is when it's a real close call and they decide to send it to their mandatory actions unit.

This is where the attorneys are because the hearing officers are not attorneys a lot of times, so they're going to send it to attorneys to decide whether or not the driver's license will be suspended. They're going to look at what was put into evidence and whether or not they can meet their burden to suspend the person's license.

How The Hedding Law Firm Can Help You at the DMV Hearing?

If you or a loved one has a DUI in Los Angeles and are worried about the DMV hearing and want to make sure that you get somebody who knows what they're doing, you've come to the right place.

DUI Attorney in Los Angeles

Pick up the phone.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  We'll talk about everything related to your DUI.  We'll talk about the court and then figure out what type of strategy we will employ to get you the best result about the facts and circumstances of your case.

I've worked for the district attorney's office.  I've worked for a superior court judge, and since the early 1990s, I've worked for people just like you, helping them achieve the best results.

The Hedding Law Firm is located in LA County, and we offer a free case review by phone or by filling out our contact form.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.