When someone gets arrested or cited for a DUI, the arresting officer will most likely take away the hard copy of the person’s license and give them a pink piece of paper that serves as a temporary license for the next 30 days. That pink piece of paper states that the person has 10 days to contact the DMV and request a hearing. If they do not contact the DMV and request that hearing within 10 days from the date of arrest, their license will automatically be suspended when their 30-day temporary license is up.
An attorney can call the DMV within the 10 days and schedule a hearing. I always schedule an in-person hearing at the local DMV office so I can sit face-to-face with the hearing officer.
Requesting that hearing typically extends the temporary license, and because hearings are not done within the 30 days, the request alone usually gets the license back in the person’s hands for longer than 30 days. That gives them more time to make arrangements if and when a suspension happens.
What is Admin Per Se
A lot of people do not realize this hearing can save their license so they do not request the hearing within 10 days. Then their license is automatically suspended when those 30 days are up. The hearing is a very informal administrative hearing with no judge and no prosecutor. There will be a DMV hearing officer present who hears evidence – typically the police reports.
At the hearing they look for three things:
1) whether the person’s blood alcohol level was a 0.08 or above
2) whether the person was driving the vehicle; and
3) whether the arrest was lawful.
If those three criteria are met, the administrative suspension goes into effect and the person is notified and a date when the suspension will start is set.
If we are able to convince the hearing officer that one of those three elements was not met, then the hearing officer will set-aside the suspension. That means the DMV will not suspend the person’s license at that time. The person will be able to keep their license and continue driving as long as the court does not later suspend it for a reason related to the conviction.
How Long Will I lose my License
People usually understand that their license can be suspended. What they don’t realize is that if they lose the DMV hearing, they will have to wait at least 30 days (on a first offense) before they can get any type of restricted license. People mistakenly think if their license is suspended their attorney can get them a work license or special privileges, but that is not the case. If the DMV takes the person’s license at the admin per se hearing, then there is nothing the person can do for 30 days.
After 30 days, they can apply for a restricted license that allows them to drive to and from work and to and from DUI school. Those restrictions remain with the license until the end of the suspension.
Getting Around Sonoma County
The public transportation system in Sonoma County is not very extensive, so losing your license can have a big impact on your life. This is the most difficult area to tackle with the DMV because they can be very inflexible. If they decide to uphold the suspension, there is nothing a person can do to shorten the suspension, and there is nothing they can do to get a restricted license beyond the limits set by the DMV. Those limits are driving to and from work, and to DUI school. The DMV will not extend the license to allow for picking up your kids from school or taking care of sick or elderly parents. It is a very rigid suspension, and for a lot of people it is the hardest part of getting a DUI.