WHAT TO DO IF YOU RECEIVE A NOTICE OF
SUSPENSION FROM THE DMV:
1). If you are served with a notice from the DMV that your license is going to be
suspended it will state on the notice how many days you have to request a hearing.
In APS actions, where you were arrested for a DUI the standard notice allows for 10
days to make a request. In Negligent Operator suspensions the DMV will typically
allow for 14 days from the date the letter was mailed. It is important to understand
the deadline to respond to the notice because if you fail to take action and demand
a hearing you may lose the ability to challenge the suspension completelty.
2). Understand that in most cases the DMV has the initial burden of proof, meaning
that they must have some evidence to establish the critical elements that form the
basis of the suspension. For example, in the case of an APS action resulting from a
DWI arrest where your blood alcohol was above a .08, the Department must be able
to show that 1. You were lawfully arrested, 2. The officer had reasonable cause to
believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation of VC 23152 or VC23153, and
3. At the time you were driving your blood alcohol was at or above a .08 percent of
alcohol. Knowing the necessary elements and that the DMV must put forth a prima
facie before the driver has any requirement at all is crucial to prevailing at any
3). You have the RIGHT to have an attorney at any formal DMV hearing. The
hearing officer acts as both a prosecutor and a Judge and therefore will not help
you to spot deficiencies in the state's case or point out weaknesses in the
evidence against you. Only with the help of an experienced lawyer can you make
appropriate legal objections and advance persuasive arguments that the DMV will
recognize and accept in order to set aside any suspension. DMV hearings are
held under specific rules and regulations which dictate the outcome of the case,
knowing these rules is what gives a person an advantage in the proceedings.
4). Talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you have the advice of an
attorney the better. Often an attorney can be of great help in presenting evidence
that you would not think of or even know to request. Otherwise, the Hearing
Officer will likely hear only one side of the case when deciding what actions to take
against your driving privilege. .
5). You must give the DMV a list of witnesses you intend to preset at the hearing, if
you do not comply with the notice requirement you may be prevented from calling
these witnesses at the hearing.
6). You have the right to subpoena witnesses and compel governmental agencies
to produce documents and records at the hearing as long as you follow the
appropriate rules and procedures. Sometimes it is important to present evidence
that the DMV does not have. For example, in breath test cases it may be necessary
to produce records pertaining to the accuracy of the device that was used to test
your blood alcohol level.
7). In many DUI cases, particularly those involving the CHP, there may be a
videotape of the entire stop, arrest and investigation. You have the right to view
this videotape as long as you take immediate action to obtain it, the DMV will not do
it for you.
8). You have the RIGHT to have your blood test re-tested by a private laboratory to
ensure that the blood alcohol level is accurate. In many cases where the test
shows a .08, a re-test may be helpful because there are margins of error and if the
re-test shows a .07 you may win the hearing.
9). You have the RIGHT to call an expert as a witness who could testify that your
blood alcohol was below a .08 at the time of driving. These experts are called
"toxicologists" and most attorneys know who to use and in what cases the expert
may be beneficial.
10). Do not try to represent yourself at a DMV hearing, the statewide statistics for
those who act as their own lawyer reveal a very low success rate. Speak to a
lawyer and consider having one defend you at the hearing.