Did you know that, in California, a driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) arrest will lead to not one, but two, charges being filed against you? Indeed, under state law, your case will be reviewed by a criminal judge as well as the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)—which means you could receive separate punishments from each court. Here’s what you need to know about the administrative penalties you face during a California DMV DUI hearing.
Although the phrase “driving under the influence” may seem self-explanatory, its definition can vary greatly from one person to another—and what you think constitutes DUI may not necessarily coincide with the term’s legal meaning. In the eyes of the law, any person operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is considered impaired and can be charged with drunk driving. Unfortunately, this means that, even if you show no signs of intoxication, you could still be arrested for DUI.
If you are under 21 (the legal drinking age in the United States) or drive a commercial vehicle, you could even be arrested with a BAC below the 0.08% limit. Underage motorists, for example, are deemed impaired if they have any trace of alcohol in their bloodstream (in other words, a BAC above 0.00%), while commercial vehicle operators can be arrested with a BAC of 0.04% or more.
Regardless of which of the above BAC guidelines applies to you, all California motorists are expected to comply with the state’s Implied Consent Law—a legal provision that allows law enforcement officers to administer chemical tests to determine your BAC. Therefore, if you are suspected of driving under the influence, you may be asked to submit a breath, blood, or urine sample for the purpose of chemical testing. If you refuse to perform this test, you can expect to be arrested for DUI.
Immediately after failing a refusing a chemical test, the DMV will be notified and your driver’s license will be suspended as a result. To contest this suspension, you must request an administrative hearing within ten days—otherwise, your driving privileges will be revoked thirty days after your arrest.
Assuming you submit your request within the appropriate period of time, a hearing will be scheduled to determine whether your license suspension should remain in effect. During this proceeding, a DMV employee will review the evidence in your case to ensure your arrest was warranted. If you are unable to present a convincing argument that supports your defense, your suspension will be enforced—and, depending on the outcome of your criminal case, your driving privileges may be revoked for four months or longer.
During your administrative hearing, it is important to remember that the person deciding your fate is an employee of the DMV—not a legal professional. To protect your rights, it is imperative to have an experienced legal representative by your side at this proceeding.
To determine the best defense strategy for your situation, submit your information online today and receive a free, no-obligation consultation with a skilled DUI defense attorney in your area.