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California Lawyers for DMV Hearings

Attending hearings with the Department of Motor Vehicles (or DMV) can be quite a daunting task. To avoid getting your license suspended, you must have knowledge and background when it comes to certain things which includes:

  • the complex set of DMV laws
  • familiarity when it comes to protocols within the DMV
  • long-standing relationships with key DMV staff that have the authority to get things done (This includes the people who preside over DMV hearings: DMV driver safety hearing officers)

Usually, the purpose of a DMV hearing is to determine whether or not a person’s driver’s license should be suspended after being arrested for certain crimes like DUI. In 2019, California Senate Bill No. 1046 (2018) was introduced. Under this law, DUI arrestees were allowed to continue driving if they have an ignition interlock device (or IID) installed in their vehicle. However, this does not mean that DMV cannot suspend your driver’s license for other reasons.

There are various reasons why you could be attending a DMV hearing. In the following article, our West Covina attorneys will discuss some types of hearings that are held and conducted in the DMV.

DUI Arrest

The DMV will pursue getting your license suspended if you get arrested for DUI, DUI of drugs, or even vehicular manslaughter. A hearing due to a DUI arrest is otherwise known as “admin per se” hearing. Out of state drivers with California licenses stand to lose their license to drive in their home state if their license gets suspended by the California DMV. If the offense involves underage DUI or refusing to take the chemical test after being arrested, a person's driver's license may be suspended for at least one year.

Everyone who has been arrested after a DUI arrest is entitled to a DMV hearing. This is to oppose possible license suspension that the DMV may impose after a DUI arrest. The arrested driver must contact the DMV and schedule a hearing within 10 days after the date of arrest. During this hearing, a lawyer may represent you or you can attend the hearing on your own. However, it is highly advisable that get an experienced DUI defense attorney to represent you here. This is to have better odds in preventing a license suspension as DUI matters are complex, especially for someone who is not an experienced DUI defense attorney.

Due to the passing of California Senate Bill No. 1046 (2018), the DMV will allow most drivers to continue their driving privileges provided that an IID is installed in their vehicle after arrest. For first time DUI offenders, the driver needs to have an IID installed for at least 4 months. A subsequent DUI offense will extend the period to one year.

Negligent Operator Suspension

When a driver receives too many points on their driving record, they may be deemed by the DMV as a "negligent operator." The DMV has the authority to suspend and place a person on DMV probation if they deem such a person a negligent operator. The DMV assigns "points" for each type of California Vehicle Code violation which includes:

  • accidents
  • traffic tickets (moving violation)
  • DUI
  • Other criminal driving offenses

For road accidents involving serious injury or death, the DMV will hold what is called a “DMV fatality hearing.”

If you receive a letter informing you of a negligent operator suspension, it is best to contact an experienced defense lawyer to represent you during this hearing.

Suspension Due to Physical or Mental Condition

The DMV has the authority to suspend the license of a person that has a physical or mental condition that affects their driving skills. This may include medical conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, diabetes, or any condition that causes the loss of consciousness, impair alertness, reflexes, and motor skills.

The DMV may revoke your license for this reason to ensure your safety and the safety of others. However, there are still a lot of people, despite their condition, who are fully capable of still driving and should not have their license suspended.

The DMV will conduct a hearing called a “reexamination hearing” or “lack of skill” inquiry to determine whether a person is capable of continuing to drive and, therefore, not have their license revoked.

Elderly Persons

There is no such thing as a maximum driving age. However, the DMV still exercises the discretion to suspend/revoke the license of an elderly person if it determines that the driver has lost the physical and mental faculties necessary to drive safely. Particularly, persons over the age of 70 are required to renew their license in person. The DMV may also require for an elderly person to submit a supplemental driving performance evaluation.

Likewise, an elderly person is also entitled to a hearing before their license can be suspended for what the DMV terms as “lack of skill.” In a hearing like this, your lawyer can present evidence to demonstrate the elderly person’s ability to drive a car safely.

California Driver’s License Fraud

Driver’s license fraud is committed when a person uses false identification or another person's identity to be able to obtain a California driver's license. Apart from the possible criminal charges[1] this may entail, a person who commits driver’s license fraud can face permanent loss of their driving privileges. (A person who enters a DMV office with intent to commit driver’s license fraud may also be charged with burglary.[2])

Before the DMV decides whether a person should permanently lose their driving privileges, the DMV affords that person the right to a hearing where that person or their lawyer may seek to get their right to a driver’s license restored.

Considering that this type of situation will have a criminal aspect (court case and hearings) and an administrative aspect (DMV hearings), it is highly advisable to get an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you.

Failure to Appear in Court

The DMV will suspend the driver’s license of a person who has been directed to appear in court or promised to appear in court on their own and fails to do so. Also, the court may issue a bench warrant to have this person arrested. And for those under probation, failure to appear will constitute a probation violation.

If you have missed your court date or missed paying your fines, all hope is not lost. You will still have an opportunity to remedy this situation. It is best to contact an experienced attorney who deals with DMV hearings so that they can help in clearing any outstanding warrants issued in your name, or remove any holds on your license, and restore your driving privileges.

No Car Insurance

If you are involved in a traffic accident and you do not have car insurance, the DMV will most likely suspend your license for up to 4 years. If you have a DUI conviction, the DMV will require you to submit a proof of insurance called an “SR22” for a period of 3 years. If you lose your insurance coverage, your insurance provider is required to inform the DMV of the loss of coverage. This will then trigger a revocation of your license. A lot of experienced defense attorneys who deal with Vehicle Code violations can probably help you find a “DUI friendly” insurance provider that is affordable so that you do not have to fear losing your license and still maintain insurance coverage on your vehicle.

Road Rage

Under California law,[3] the DMV can suspend your license for road rage behaviors. For first time offenders of this offense, it can carry up to 6 months license suspension. For repeat offenders, up to 1-year suspension. Like most proceeding in the DMV, you will have an opportunity to challenge the suspension via a DMV hearing. It is best to seek the services of an experienced defense attorney in a situation such as this because a good defense attorney can convince the hearing officer that the accusations are unfair and that the suspension should not be imposed.

Mistakes Happen. A Suspension of Your Driving Privilege Doesn't Have To.

Although DMV hearings are not as formal and as stringent as court hearings, that does not mean to say that they are any less important or any less complex. Do not miss out on any possible DMV hearing dates and opportunities as this can be your only opportunity to avoid the hassles of losing your driver’s license. You will want to consult and secure the services of an experienced defense attorney to assist you in navigating the complexities of a DMV hearing. You will want to avoid revocation or suspension of your license at all costs because the ability to drive is an important aspect of daily life. Although we are fielding inquiries from a lot of people in similar situations, we will do our best to put you in contact with an experienced lawyer from our firm.

If you need assistance with a DMV hearing, do not hesitate to contact us at (626) 827-7222 to schedule your consultation with one of our experienced attorneys at no cost.


[1] California Penal Code §470 – Forgery

[2] California Penal Code §459 - Burglary

[3] California Vehicle Code §13210 – Road Rage Laws

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