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What Happens to My License After My DUI Arrest in California?

When you are arrested and charged with DUI in California, the police officer will take your license and give you a Form DS-367 (also referred to a ‘pink slip’). This paper serves several purposes: it is a notice of an immediate driver’s license suspension, it also functions as a 30-day temporary license for you as well as an explanation of the law and the DMV procedures that you must follow. From the day of your DUI arrest, you or your DUI attorney have 10 days to contest the suspension of your license with the Driver Safety Office at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You are not required to have a California DMV hearing, but if you do not request one, you will probably have your license automatically suspended for 4 months, 30 days from the day of your arrest. However, if you refused a chemical test, the suspension will be 1 year. Most (if not all) DUI attorneys will recommend that you request a DMV suspension hearing. You could win and have the suspension thrown out, or if you lose, your hearing you could have same suspension but you bought yourself another 30 days of driving. Due to the work overload at the DMV, they may not be able to grant you a hearing within the 30 day window. If that happens, you or your DUI attorney should ask for (and will receive) an extension of your temporary license. You will be able to keep the temporary license until you have your hearing and the decision is handed down.

What to expect at the California Administrative License Suspension Hearing

Your DMV hearing, also called an ALS, or Administrative License Suspension hearing, will take place in front of a DMV officer who acts as the judge and Prosecutor. This officer is an employee of the DMV and will conduct the hearing like a mini-trial with no jury and different rules of evidence. Because the hearing is not a criminal proceeding, you cannot request a public defender. You can, however, hire a DUI attorney to represent you. This hearing looks into the intricate procedures involved in your DUI case, so it is very important to have an experienced DUI attorney by your side to look for any procedural errors made by police. Many times a bureaucratic error could allow you win your case. Both sides can present testimony, but usually the DMV officer only reads from police reports, lab results and/or the officer’s sworn statement.

What will the DMV officer want to know?

The hearing officer will want the following questions answered: * Did you take the chemical test, or refuse? * Did the police officer have probable cause to arrest you? * Was the arrest lawful? * What was your BAC? * How did the officer handle the chemical test? * Did the officer tell you that if you failed or refused the chemical test, your license would be suspended? There is no Fifth Amendment protection, so your attorney may ask you not to be there to avoid you having to be called as a witness. The biggest advantage you gain is to hear the strength of the evidence that the Prosecution has and will use against you in the criminal DUI case. This is reason enough to request the DMV hearing. You can expect the ruling within two weeks. If the DMV officer rules against you, you can appeal his decision to the DMV in Sacramento.